back to work!
I can’t believe it’s been two months since the season ended! The summer went by really fast, well at least it did for me since I had the Eurocopa to keep me distracted. And now it’s time for the pre-season to begin, and with it, the quest to win all of the trophies this year, including the very desired La Décima.
The first day.
The 2012-13 pre-season kicked off bright and early (like the coaches’ shirts) on Monday morning. Nine first team players and 11 canteranos were due at Valdebebas at 08:15h, and over the course of the day, they would have physicals and participate in a double training session. The coaching staff all appeared before 08h, while the míster arrived with Rui Farai at 08h on the dot. The first player to show up was MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín, who arrived at 08:01h (he must have been eager to start, no? And he used to be such an adorable blond little kid!). José Callejón, Ángel di María and Rafa Varane all arrived around 08:15h, while Kaká, Esteban Granero, Antonio Adán, Gonzalo Higuaín, Lass and Nuri Sahin – the cool kids apparently – all arrived past the limit. Speaking of that, there was definitely a back to school vibe at Valdebebas, since there were new school uniforms, new hairstyles (such as Nuri Sahin) and a clear demarcation between the freshmen (the canteranos) and the seniors (the first team players).
The coaches now look like Iker did last season!
The nine first team players who started the pre-season on Monday are Esteban Granero, Antonio Adán, José Callejón, Rafa Varane, Gonzalo Higuaín, Ángel di María, Nuri Sahin, Kaká and Lass. The 11 players who participated in the Eurocopa are still on vacation, while Marcelo is currently on national team duty with Brazil, preparing for the Olympics. The canteranos joining the first team players in this part of the pre-season are Jesús, MFC ABMM, Iván, Álex, Nacho, Denis, Juanfran, Pedro Mosquera, Jorge Casado, Lucas, Fernando Pacheco, José Ríos and David Mateos (back from Zaragoza). Some of them are expected to get fichas on the first team.
I’m not a big fan of the turquoise and navy combination. I liked previous seasons’ training shirts much better.
The first two items on the agenda were the morning training session and medical tests. The team also trained again on Monday afternoon.
See, the freshmen were lined up looking anxious, until the big men on campus arrived. Then they looked more at ease, once the cool guys said hi to them.
Absent from the training sessions were Ricardo Caravlho and Fernando Gago, back from his loan spell with Roma. As neither of them fit into Mou’s plans, they were prevented from participating in the session, much like Lass or Peter Lion had been at the beginning of last season. Fernando Gago trained alone, while Ricardo Carvalho had permission from the club to miss both sessions.
It’s quite strange to be at this point of the pre-season, and not have any new signings! In previous years, we’ve always known who our new additions were to be at this point in time. So far, we only have one confirmed departure, that of Hamit Altintop, who was sold to Galatasaray.
And in great news, Eládio Paramés has shut down his twitter account. Unfortunately, his parting tweet read “new season, new strategy” so I’m sure we haven’t heard the last of him yet, booooo.
The latest pre-season schedule.
July 16 - those players who didn’t play in the Eurocopa are due at Valdebebas.
July 23 - Benzema is due back.
July 24 - friendly against Oviedo in Oviedo, after the original friendly against Maghreb Athletic Tetouan in Tangiers was suspended due to logistical problems.
July 27 - friendly against Benfica in Lisbon – Eusébio Cup.
July 28 - The rest of the players who played in the Eurocopa – Iker, Sergio, Xabi, Albiol, Arbeloa, Özil, Khedira, Cris, Pepe, Coentrão – due back. Team travels to United States.
Aug. 2 - game against LA Galaxy in Los Angeles – World Football Challenge.
Aug. 5 - game against Santos Laguna in Las Vegas – World Football Challenge (original opponent was Juventus).
Aug. 8 - game against AC Milan in New York (Yankee Stadium) – World Football Challenge.
Aug. 11 - game against Celtic in Philadelphia – World Football Challenge.
Aug. 12 - return to Madrid.
Aug. 13 - Marcelo back from Olympics.
Aug. 18-19 - jornada 1, vs. Valencia.
Aug. 23 - Supercopa first leg game in Barcelona.
Aug. 25-26 - jornada 2, at Getafe.
Aug. 29 - Supercopa second leg game in Madrid.
? - friendly against Millonarios – Trofeo Bernabéu.
The 2012-13 Liga schedule is out, which you can see here. Madrid will kick off its defense of the Liga against Valencia. By the way, whenever Madrid and Valencia have met in the first jornada, one of the two end up winning the title. This has happened seven times, with Madrid winning the Liga five times and Valencia twice. José Mourinho, Marcelo and Mesut Özil have also been pardoned by Ángel Villar, meaning that the sanctions imposed on them after last season’s Supercopa have been lifted, and so Mou will be able to coach the Supercopa games, while the players will be able to play in them.
A quick Eurocopa rundown: Real Madrid has five players on the championship team, and 10 of the 11 made it to the semifinals. Eight of the tournament’s best 23 players play for Madrid: Iker, Sergio, Xabi, Cris, Pepe, Coentrão, Khedira and Mesut. Our players won a total of eight man of the match awards (Cris and Mesut won two each, and Sergio, Xabi, Pepe and Sami each one). Iker ended up being the least scored upon goalkeeper – he only allowed one goal in the entire tournament (six games)!
And after the Spain-Portugal semifinal, Pepe asked permission to enter into Spain’s locker room, where he wished the players good luck in the final and said he hoped they would take home the trophy. What a lovely gesture!
Can you believe this news: just several days after Spain won the Eurocopa, Xavi’s father, Joaquim Hernández, made several of those grand statements that his son is known for. He told Com Ràdio’s “Mas Esports” program that with regards to the clásicos and the national team, “Iker had many problems regarding this issue with Mourinho, problems that came out publicly and that we all know about, because Xavi and Iker never wanted to break their friendship. If it hadn’t been for Iker, Xavi and Del Bosque, this national team would not have gone so far. There were complicated moments resulting from the clásicos. Players who were teammates and friends were on the verge of losing their friendships. They weren’t just rows. We already saw how Arbeloa, Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos behaved with their national team teammates. The behavior of some players was not appropriate. At least Iker and Xavi intervened.” I don’t remember seeing Xavi making any efforts to repair anything, I don’t recall Xabi being involved in anything, and I do remember several Barcelona players behaving badly.
Marcelo and Enzo.
On the subject of national teams, Mano Menezes has called up Marcelo to play for Brazil in the 2012 Olympics, as one of three overage players (the other two are Thiago Silva and Hulk). Brazil’s group stage games are against Egypt on July 26, Belarus on July 29 and New Zealand on Aug. 1.
Marcelo and Clarice, meanwhile, have been very generous with us in sharing pictures of Enzo, or “Mini 12″ as Marcelo calls him! That is adorable! And I love it when they wear matching outfits!
And Enzo was also on hand to “train” with the Brazilian Olympic team in Rio!
I didn’t think it was possible for this kid to get cuter, but…
Our boys traveled all around the world to spend their vacations, as they were spotted or tweeted that they were in places in Spain, Europe, the U.S., South America and Asia as well. They also found time to fulfill club commitments during this summer. Esteban Granero visited a campus organized by the Realmadrid Foundation. He told them, “you all are very lucky to be able to take part in this campus and wear a shirt with the escudo of Real Madrid, and so you should enjoy it and learn.” He also shared his summer reading list is; it looks like he and Xabi are both fans of Bukowski! How many of these books have you read? My count is only three…
Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso visited Indonesia as the guest of food company Dua Kelinci, which is an official sponsor of Real Madrid. Also heading to Indonesia, but not at the same time as Xabi, were Álvaro Arbeloa and Pepe, who played in an exhibition game: Pepe, Arbeloa & friends vs. Timnas Garuda. Álvaro and Pepe’s team lost 0-1. Pepe then went on to Singapore. A few countries over was a very tan Cristiano Ronaldo, who traveled from Phuket, where he was on vacation, to Bangkok to renew his endorsement contract with Toyota Hilux Vigo Champ.
And Sergio participated in his sister Miriam’s wedding at the Salvador church in Sevilla, after making his future brother-in-law Carlos dress up for the bachelor party (the green pants made a reappearance too).
After a few days in Navalacruz, Iker headed to Houston via Miami to take part in a football clinic and to present a charitable project involving the Realmadrid Foundation and BBVA Compass. His next stop on this tour was Caracas, where he also participated in a football clinic, did a live chat, spoke to the press, and got a special present from an autistic kid named Emmanuel.
Castilla and RMC.
Castilla’s schedule for the new season can be found here. The first “mini clásico” will take place quite early on, on Aug. 26. At the RFEF meeting ratifying the schedule, Alberto Toril also received the trophy presented to the winners of the Segunda División B, and also the trophy corresponding to their winning of Group I of the division.
According to various news reports, RMC players Fernando Pacheco, Derik Osede and Rubén Sobrino, along with Juvenil A’s José Rodríguez, Cristian Benavente and Raúl de Tomás, will be spending the pre-season with Castilla. Pacheco, Derik, Rubén and José are expected to play next season with Castilla, while where Cristian and Raúl end up will depend on how well they do. Meanwhile, Jorge Casado has extended his contract with Madrid for four more years, and Castilla has also signed up Iván González, who was on loan to them last season from Málaga, and Pedro Mosquera, on loan from Getafe. Quini joins the team from Lucena, and David Mateos has returned after his spell with Zaragoza.
As for departures, Jesús and MFC ABMM are rumored to have spaces on the first team. Dani Carvajal has signed a contract with Bayer Leverkusen to play the next five years there. Mandi will be playing in Sporting, Pablo Gil is going to Sparta Pargue, Víctor Merchán to Espanyol B and Isaac Becerra has moved on to Girona. Peter Mendes is not going to have his loan period extended. All in all, only five of Castilla’s habitual starting XI from last season remain: Nacho, Jorge Casado, Jesé, Mosquera and Iván González.
Dani spoke with Marca right after his signing was announced. Highlights from the interview.
on his feelings: it’s a very special day. Any child who wants to become a footballer would be happy on a day like this one. Signing a professional contract with a club like Bayer Leverkusen is the completion of a dream, it’s my first big contract, and it moves me closer to becoming a footballer. I end a great 10-year stretch in Madrid but now I am starting a new and exciting stage of my professional career.
on the decision: it was difficult to make, especially since I’m from here, I have my home and my family here. I’ve been here for 10 years, el madridismo runs in my blood and it wasn’t easy to leave this club, for everything it has given to me and because I owe everything to it. I’m leaving because I wasn’t given many opportunities. I believe I’m taking a step forward and I will grow a lot on the sporting level.
on what would have made him stay: opportunities. If the first team had me in mind for a future and upcoming project, I could have stayed here for one year playing in the second division. The door is closed at the moment and that’s why I had to open myself up to the international market, since that will help for the doors of the first team to be open to me in the future. It appears that the road from the cantera to the first team requires you to leave.
on not having debuted with the first team: yes, that’s a thorn in my side. I’ve spent 10 years here and I’ve seen my teammates debut and it was the best day of their lives… It could have been mine as well. Due to different circumstances, it wasn’t meant to be. In the future, I hope to wear the shirt of Real Madrid in an official game. I’m sad to leave without having debuted, after having been so close to achieving it.
on Castilla: I will miss my Castilla teammates. We’ve been a family. The promotion united us a lot and I leave behind many friends, but I hope we’ll meet up again in the future. I’m sure everything will go well for them.
Marca recently also ran a story saying that the new policy of the club was to ask its socios about their opinions on new signings and the like. Well, if FP had asked me, I would have told him that we need to promote some canteranos. As far as I know, the majority of the socios agree with me on this aspect, that we need to have more homegrown talent on the first team, such as the player who laid the cornerstone for Valdebebas… I feel so bad for Dani that he wasn’t able to debut, and as we can see from the fact that Bayer Leverkusen wanted him, he’s a fantastic player, and we’re not exactly stacked on the right fullback position at the moment.
And congratulations to Jesé for being the pichichi and MVP of the 2012 U-19 Euro!
RMC news: five teams in the Segunda B division (which RMC had attempted to qualify for in a playoff round) have economic problems and have been demoted, so the Federation got in contact with those teams which had been unsuccessful in the playoffs to see if anyone of them would be willing to pay money (€190,000) for a spot. Madrid of course has the funds, and so RMC will be playing in the Segunda B division, Group I next season, once all the paperwork is completed. By the way, Fran Sol has been loaned out to Lugo for one season.
Meanwhile, Fernando Morientes is reported to be making a return to Real Madrid!! Yay!!!!! He’s a long-time favorite of mine. It is said that he will be coaching Juvenil B (including Enzo Zidane) next season, after wrapping up his coaching internship with Huracán Valencia’s cadete team, bringing him one step closer to getting his coaching license. Rubén de la Red is expected to become head coach of one of the youth teams.