first day of work for el club de mis amores
Madrid held two training sessions on Tuesday, the first day of work for the 25 players who are in Los Angeles preparing for the pre-season. The four healthy new signings – Nuri Sahin, José Callejón, Raphaël Varane and Fábio Coentrão – exercised for the first time with their new teammates. The session started with Mou saying a few words, and then came stretching, strength exercises and exercises with the ball. As for the afternoon session (where the players broke in the sleeveless training shirts), Xabi Alonso more or less sat that one out, as he had a problem with a toenail. The rest of the players practiced tactics in defense and in the attack. Zinedine Zidane and Miguel Pardeza watched both sessions.
Yes, the first day and Xabi is already posing! He hasn’t lost a step!
The goalkeepers are… bright. And it’s been confirmed, Iker’s boots and his jersey don’t match. Another season of mismatching for our capi. Plus, the other three make Iker look tiny (I remember reading somewhere that Tomy Mejías is the tallest player in the cantera).
In the morning session, Cristiano showed off the two stripes he has shaved into his head (one more and Adidas will be clamoring to sign him from Nike), which curiously enough, Karim Benzema seems to be allowing to grow out. By the way, Ginés Carvajal, Jesé’s agent, revealed that he advised his player not to style his hair like Cristiano, because he wants him to be seen as an individual. In the afternoon session, Cris showed off those legs. I bet MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín is sad he’s missing out on this!
They will have another double session today, at the same times as on Tuesday.
In between the training sessions, José Mourinho, Cristiano Ronaldo and Iker Casillas spoke to the press, alongside their LA Galaxy counterparts Bruce Arena, Landon Donovan and David Beckham. This was Mou’s first time speaking to the press in almost three months. And he made good use of the occasion, telling everyone that there’s no need to pressure the new players: “I read that poor Sahin is going to be the new Zidane and poor Varane will be the new Hierro, at the age of 18. They don’t need this type of comparison. I ask for calm and for them to be allowed to work.” As for the first day of work, his players “are very tired after their vacations and the first session. This afternoon they’ll be even more tired and tomorrow, still more. And after that I’ll have to give them a bit of oxygen… There are new, young players who need time to adapt. They need tranquility and these games are good for them to integrate themselves onto the team.”
Mou also warned people to keep their hands off of Iker. In response to a question about whether Iker would want to play in the U.S., Mou shot back, “he still has 10 years left in Madrid” (Iker responded by saying that football is developing in the U.S., but there’s nowhere else like Spain). Mou also talked about the resignings of Pepe and Sergio: “I’ve known that for a long time. Real Madrid seems to be changing, because now the press knows when they have to know, not like before, when they knew before the players. Now, they only know when we want them to.” I love it! But Madrid’s site says that Pepe and Sergio received the congratulations of their teammates for their contract renovations, but since it’s not a new thing, that seems kind of strange, no?
And he expressed his happiness that the team is very young, with an average age of 25, “though Iker is a very old guy in Madrid, how old are you? Thirty? (Iker nods.) He’s the second oldest player on the team. Our philosophy is to sign players with bright futures. We have a team with a lot of potential, one for many years.”
Meanwhile, Iker, who was bored and fidgeted when the press conference was in English, said in Spanish (too bad, because “ees true” would have been perfect after that statement of Mou, especially because he talked about the same thing), “we have a very young team that is still forming. But they’ll bring a lot of happiness to the club. With that said, here there’s no patience, results are always demanded immediately, but you have to keep in mind that our team has many new players.” He also said, “I’m happy because there are four goalkeepers from the cantera and I’ve always said that the best goalkeepers come out of here. They have promising futures and I’m happy that there’s so much confidence in the young people.”
When it was Cristiano’s turn to speak (he spent some of the time when it wasn’t his turn studying his nails), he talked about Fábio Coentrão, saying that he was “happy and excited. It’s an opportunity for him to mature and he’s going to give it his all. He’ll show what a great player he is.”
Mou also had the nice gesture of congratulating Becks for the birth his “new baby girl” at the start of the press conference, doing it on behalf of the “entire Real Madrid family,” and adding that Becks is very beloved and respected in that family. (Landon then got the first question, and he said, looking around, I’m very surprised that I got the first question and everyone laughed.) Later on, Becks said, “I spent four magnificent years in Real Madrid and… I’ve got many friends still there, friends as players, the fans, throughout the club as well, so to be facing Real Madrid for the first time since I left – it’s emotional, because you get attached to a club, you get attached to the people of a club.” Given Madrid’s super-high rate of turnover, the only players left from when Becks was there are Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Higuaín and Gago, and the latter three only spent half a season with David (and two of them aren’t even in Los Angeles). So, I think we can conclude that when David was referring to the player-friends on Madrid, he was talking about Iker.
Here they are, expressing everything with just one glance.
Who can blame Becks, look at this profile!!
Back in Madrid, the four players left out of this pre-season tour were scheduled to arrive for training at 10h. Sergio Canales was the only one to arrive on time, about five minutes before 10. Peter Lion and Drenthe were about 10-15 minutes late, and Lass didn’t show up until around 11:15h.
And over in Argentina, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ángel de María and Fernando Gago all played in Argentina’s 3-0 victory over Costa Rica, with Ángel scoring the third goal. They’re now in the quarterfinals, and all of them played well in this game.
Meanwhile, Juan Carlos and David Mateos were presented as Zaragoza’s newest players, along with Edu Oriol and Abraham Minero. Pablo Sarabia got an official announcement stating that he was moving to Getafe, why wasn’t this same courtesy extended to these two players? It won’t be long before we see these two again, because we’re playing Zaragoza in La Romareda in jornada 2. And in jornada 3, we host Pablo Sarabia’s Getafe.
David’s jeans hurt my eyes. And poor David and Juan Carlos, they might have thought that by leaving Madrid, they would no longer be forced to pose with their thumbs up. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
And Álvaro Arbeloa has informed us that Raúl Albiol is setting up an twitter account soon! (It will probably be Álvaro doing the setting up, since Raúl seems to be a bit spacey and forgetful…) That means that our wish from the last pre-season in Los Angeles, that all four of The Four Musketeers would get on twitter, is coming true! However, Raúl won’t be able to register the user name “albiol18,” because that’s his brother Miguel’s account.
Meanwhile, the Honorary Musketeer still isn’t on twitter, but he and his iPhone are quite consistent with their Facebook updates. Iker posted two photos yesterday. For the first one, he wrote, “what do you all think about this photo? My coach and my sporting director of the first team! We’re looking ahead to this new season that is just beginning with the desire to exceed what we did last season! It won’t be easy but we have to try! Hala Madrid! It’s been 13 seasons with the club that I love, how long ago San Mamés seems!” I love his description of Madrid as “el club de mis amores” because that’s exactly the way I feel. As for the picture with Kaká, Iker wrote, “a lot of people have asked me for a picture with the great Kaká, so here is the phenomenon…” Their pose is adorable! If Iker hadn’t already been reunited with his love earlier, then I would say that Kaká has a shot at being another one of them…