in case you missed it – the still unbeaten edition
In case you missed it – Sporting Gijón vs. Real Madrid [2010-11-14].
Well, I’m glad that one’s over, since I was getting quite bored with the war of words (and gestures, if you believe what happened in the parking lot after the game).*
One. Game notes: Madrid used the same starting 11 for the fifth game in a row. And Karim Benzema has basically been reborn, no? He was once again decisive in the game, as soon as he came in for Di María in the 63rd minute. Sporting’s resistance faltered against his interventions and the just reward came with Pipita’s goal. This means that Sergio Canales should blow up soon.
Two. It appears that Baywatch didn’t give Sami and Sergio a callback, because they’re still auditioning very hard. But this time, they have serious competition in the form of one Xabi Alonso.
Three. This was Aitor Karanka’s first game as “head coach” and he followed the game very closely. Of course, he was helped by Mou, who was in constant contact with Rui Faria via walkie-talkies and mobile phone from his dark VIP box (making him look like an evil presence, the one pulling the strings from behind the scenes). He gave his first order in the 20th minute, and from thereon Rui would ferry the instructions to Aitor, and Aitor to the players. Mou was involved in everything, including the decisions about the substitutions, and I suppose he also talked to the players at halftime as well.
Both Mou and Aitor started out sitting, but then stood up as the game got more tense.
Speaking of Mou, he was accompanied in the box by Madrid’s head of security Julio Cendal, six national police officers and a few of Sporting’s private security guards. He puts the “v” in VIP. With this win, he became the debuting coach with the best winning percentage, edging out Pep Guardiola. And speaking of Aitor, he’ll be in charge for one more game, which is curiously enough against his former team (twice) Athletic. Watch a video of Mou watching the game here.
Meanwhile, the players also had Mou very present on their minds. Cris said after the game, “this win is for Mourinho. He wasn’t on the bench, but we knew his orders.” Meanwhile, Iker said, while evading a pronouncement on the verbal spat between Mou and Sporting coach Manuel Preciado, “I’ll limit myself to defending my coach, who is the best. I respect the opinions of others, but I don’t share them.”
Apparently, Cristiano, Marcelo and Pepe had also prepared a special celebration dedicated to Mou if one of them had scored, to show their support.
Four. I love this bit of provocation from Cristiano, especially his facial expressions. Notice the finger wagging too, and the shorts riding up.
There was another bit in the final seconds of the game, with the crowd shouting insults at Cristiano (ese portugués, hijo de puta es) and so he motioned with his hands as if conducting them.
They’re just jealous they don’t have a Cristiano.
Five. Iker once again showed his reflexes, saving a shot from David Barral in the 83rd minute (Barral’s reaction after the game was: “it’s incredible, I still ask myself how he got a hand on it”), as well as some other things. Nice catch, no? And I like how he had second thoughts about throwing the wad of newspaper back. Iker ended up bringing it back to the goal with him, unfurling it, and then tossing it to the side.
Six. Front and back.™
You can seriously rest things on these next two booties.
A special back honorable mention goes to Sergio Ramos.
Seven. Fun moments: Pipita’s boot flying off, Sergio still fond of using hand gestures to get his point across (and Iker being all captainy by pushing him aside before he gets carded).
Marcelo losing the ball and taking forever to realize it, and Iker looking confused.
Sergio being selfish (and five years old) with the ball, and Pipita begging someone, anyone to have mercy on him.
Eight. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Very boss here, and here. Even when he’s celebrating the goal, he’s still barking out instructions and orders.
And quite the boss here as well.
Nine. Speaking of boss, here are more people being boss.
Ten. Ok, what goes on in the locker room at the half? How did Sergio Ramos end up in Pepe’s shorts??? I want to know!!!
At the beginning of the second half, Sergio came out on the field with number four on his shirt and number three on his shorts (click to see more clearly).
The referee noticed that his shorts had the number “3″ on them, while of course his number is “4″ and notified him. Sergio glanced down at his shorts, and looked confused.
In the end, he was sent back to the locker room to change his shorts. He was back on the field in about a minute. That is information I’ll file away for later – that Sergio gets out of his clothes quickly.
And when he came back out, he was checked to make sure that he was indeed wearing his own shorts. Yet another job I would like. The cameraman did his part, by panning the camera over Sergio’s lower half. That wouldn’t be a bad job either.
(Click to enlarge the pictures; you won’t be disappointed.)
Bonus: since our minds are already there…
Eleven. Did anyone noticed that Mesut’s right hand was bandaged at some point during the game? He apparently caught the ball wrong after it was thrown back quite strongly from someone in the crowd. Bad Gijón fan.
Twelve. It came late in the game, and so it will come late in this post as well. Pipita’s goal. Iker managed to maintain his composure quite well, no?
And more head patting/rubbing/tapping, including Özil doing it to Sergio, and then Sergio returning the favor.
Did you like how Sergio celebrated the goal? Meanwhile, Pepe made a big show of clutching his shirt and pointing at the escudo in response to the boos from Gijón’s fans, while Mesut showed off how much Spanish he’s learning by shouting a certain swear word at the same fans.
Thirteen. Benzema, after the game.
Fourteen. Looking ahead.
Ricardo Carvalho ended the game with a deep bruise to his left ankle, though he managed to finish the game, though, showing what a trooper he is. He was checked out by Portugal’s doctors today and given the all-clear to participate in Wednesday’s friendly.
The players have two days off, but of course the majority of them have national team commitments and so they won’t have any days off. The big game for Madrid fans is the Portugal-Spain friendly on Wednesday, where we could see up to eight of our players.
*Bonus Fifteen. I originally didn’t write anything about this, because it’s stupid (I can’t believe these are grown men) and pointless since no one knows the truth, but since some of you have asked… There are conflicting reports as to what exactly happened in the parking lot after the game, and of course, it’s a “he said, he said” type of situation.
According to Manuel Preciado, as he was getting in his car, a very short person came down off of Madrid’s bus and told him that the Gijón would get relegated. He answered him and that person got back on the bus. Preciado said that Miguel Pardeza was also present.
It’s been reported that the person was Rui Faria but the height doesn’t seem to match. Preciado also said that as he and his son passed through the mixed zone after the game, Mourinho held up two fingers, either for victory or to symbolize the relegation to the second division.
According to Madrid, Preciado started everything by throwing a plastic bottle at the team bus, insulting some members of the expedition and grabbing his crotch after people tried to calm him down. They also said that someone accompanying Preciado told them, ‘Barça’s going to score five goals against you.”