in case you missed it – the whispering edition
In case you missed it – Ajax vs. Real Madrid [2010-11-23].
Almost forgotten in all the debate and uproar about whether Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos deliberately sought out yellow cards in order to have a clean slate for the next round is the fact that Madrid won this game 4-0, and behind some sublime goals. Speaking of goals, they also achieved their two-fold goal, which was to advance to the round of 16 and win their group.
One. Fun pregame moments: Sergio emulating Rafa Nadal, our players looking good while warming up, Sergio’s smile at the kid who accompanied him out on the field and that other big kid, Marcelo, with his Vicks and his smirk.
Two. The goals were great, the celebrations even better. Here are the first two goals: Benzema’s goal, off a great flick by Özil, and Arbeloa’s long-distance missile of a goal.
As said above, the celebrations were epic! Álvaro celebrated his goal with the bench – look at how happy everyone is, jumping up and down and rubbing heads. Then for Cristiano’s first goal, he celebrated by dancing his way over to a waiting Pepe and collapsing into a three-person hug with him and Marcelo. I wonder if Kaká will have trouble integrating himself back into that group once he returns?
Sergio did say that he wouldn’t have minded taking the penalty, but since Cris is in the fight to become the top goalscorer, he took it. Sergio added that Cris was absolutely not upset the other day when he asked to be allowed to take the kick.
Three. The referee was a bit card-happy, resulting in these looks of exasperation and disbelief from Cristiano and Xabi.
Four. Iker wore long sleeves for the first time in a very long time. He’s back to being very green as well, as you can see from the gloves and the boots. And perhaps his face was green at some point too, because he had stomach problems the previous night, and even vomited, but recovered by game time. Iker played all 90 minutes of the encounter without any problems and was happy with the result.
He really has the most perfect profile.
Five. Quote of the day – Sergio spoke with El Larguero after the game, and provided the quote of the day when asked if he dreams at night about Messi. Sergio’s answer?
No way, I always dream of nice things, such as winning at home.
Six. There was a lot of speculation on whether Xabi and Sergio had forced their second yellow cards. The supposed sequence of events resulting in the second yellow cards went down like this. They had both received one yellow card each earlier in the match.
In the 67th minute, Xabi receives his first yellow card. Right after that, in the 68th minute, with Madrid up 2-0, and Madrid’s chances of advancing to the next round and heading their group quite secure, Mou starts talking to team delegate Chendo. In the 72nd, he’s spotted whispering with Dudek on the bench (all of this is accomplished with hands over mouths, so that no one (i.e. Cuatro) will be able to employ their lip readers to figure out what is being said). In the meantime, Madrid has scored another goal, putting them up 3-0.
Taking advantage of the play being at the other end of the field, Dudek goes over to Iker in the 74th minute. He brings him some water, and the two of them talk. In the 78th minute, Iker runs over to Sergio and starts whispering in his ear. Sergio listens intently (I assume, judging by that look of utter concentration on his face). I love how the two of them just so naturally put both their hands/gloves around each other.
Xabi Alonso (87th minute) and Sergio Ramos (91st minute) are both subsequently carded for delaying the game, and since those were the second yellow card for both, they were expelled. This means they won’t be able to play in the last game of the group round, but clears them, card wise, for the next round of the Champions League, the round of 16.
Here we see the delaying tactics employed by Xabi (looking like he’s having a seizure while running up to kick the ball) and Sergio (adjusting his socks), and their walks of shame.
Iker told RTVE after the game that this was basically the strategy: “these are things that happen on the field. Dudek passed on to me instructions for a player on the field.” However, this was denied by the others. Mou said it wasn’t the case, expressed his anger that his players were carded, and said he didn’t like being carded for wasting time: “the expulsions were a result of an easy game where the referee carded people for strange reasons. I don’t like these types of cards.” And so by the time Iker reached the mixed zone, his version had become, “Dudek asked me about my stomach problems and then later I told my teammates to be careful. What I told Ramos was to keep an eye on a forward who was advancing a lot on his wing.”
Sergio confirmed this version, saying, “Casillas and I talked about his stomach problems… we weren’t looking to receive cards. We cover our mouths when we speak because the cameras can capture all the conversations and there are private things that only the players should know.” And later on El Larguero, he stressed that no one had talked to him about provoking cards.
Raúl Albiol added, “I wasn’t aware of anything. I didn’t see any orders. We did notice a delay in the free kick of Xabi and the same with Ramos, but nothing more than that.”
Seven. When Cristiano felt that he had been harshly fouled and expressed his discontent to the Ajax player who had tackled him, the rest of the team came running up to get involved. It’s Xabi and Lass, then Sergio and Marcelo, here comes Arbeloa and then Pedro León and Özil arrive to join the party. Cris wants to show where he had been tackled, so he rips down his sock to show off his leg. I love the part where he turns around and sticks his leg out and points at it! (I can totally see Crackòvia Cristiano doing that.) It’s certainly an attention-getter.
Eight. Cris shows off another skill in his repertoire, a rabona, and does us all a favor by pulling up his shorts while protesting. Do your shirt next, please.
And when he wasn’t getting knocked down and kicked in the legs, his eyes and his back were hurting. Pobrecito.
Nine. Sergio: Oh Cristiano, this smoke is giving me giggle fits!
Cristiano: Like the actress who played Ally McBeal, Calista Flockhart… You have no idea what I just said to you, do you.
Ten. He got to start the game, and he made the most of it, including making his case to be on Baywatch. I also love this moment where Álvaro was writhing on the ground in obvious pain, but the medical staff on his team and his coach just kind of stroll over slowly and casually to take a peek at him, as if they know he’s not seriously injured.
Eleven. David Mateos made his Real Madrid debut in the 81st minute, when he went in for Lass. After the game, he said, “I’m never going to forget this opportunity that the míster gave me. He has a lot of faith in me and I thank him for that. I’m going to get all my teammates to sign my shirt, and then I’m going to frame it… I thought about my entire family, my girlfriend and everyone who’s supported me throughout the years… this was something that we’ve fought for since I was a kid.” Congratulations David!
Álvaro Morata wasn’t so lucky in this, his first call-up with the first team. He was crossed off from the final game list, along with Antonio Adán.
Twelve. Our cold looking bench.
Thirteen. Zidane was at the game! First he’s not there, then he’s there. Then he’s cold, and then he’s not.
He arrived later than the others in the palco as he had been down on the field chatting with the players and the technical team.
Fourteen. Here are two players who don’t get too much playing time, so I have to give them their moments when I find them. Raúl Albiol and Pedro León.
Fifteen. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
He’s taught Sergio well.
Sixteen. Mou was quite composed (for him) during the game, perhaps because he knew he had father Xabi on the field. Well, when father Xabi wasn’t busy getting annoyed.
By the way, when Xabi went down at one point during the game, the entire bench rose up to see if he was ok, since they know that no one can replace Xabi Alonso.
After the game, Mou had good things to say about his substitute players, some of whom started today: “the response of players such as Arbeloa, Benzema, Albiol and Lass, who don’t normally play and responded wonderfully, made me happy. I know that I can use every single person on this team… all the players are fundamental for me. Each one is going to have his opportunity.”
Seventeen. Looking ahead: the team has the day off today (that means that Iker can stay at home and enjoy Sara’s new boobs, while Cris can spend the day calming down his girlfriend – link is a bit NSFW), with training resuming Thursday for Monday’s game against Barcelona. Let’s go Madrid!!