all set for Sevilla & other news
There wasn’t much going on yesterday or this morning, but here’s a look at what’s relevant for me.
ONE. The team held a training session this morning in Valdebebas, as they continued preparing for tomorrow’s Copa del Rey semifinal. The good news was that all of the players except for Gonzalo Higuaín participated in the session, meaning that Pepe and Jerzy Dudek have left the sick bay and were back training with their teammates (Pepe was injured on Jan. 5 in a Copa del Rey round of 16 game). Tomás Mejías from Castilla also joined the session.
TWO. Out of the 24 players at the session, 19 were called up for the game. Marcelo made his return after missing the last game with the flu, while Pepe, Higuaín and Dudek were left off the list as they are still recovering, while Mourinho decided that Pedro León, Sergio C. and Gago would miss the game by not calling them up.
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Adán, Mejías.
Defenders: Carvalho, Ramos, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol, Garay.
Midfielders: Lass, Khedira, Granero, Xabi Alonso, Di María, Kaká, Özil.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Adebayor, Benzema.
There’s Kaká! I really want to pull the cord on Cris’ hat. Ozi looks like a ninja, and how in the world can Benz see with his hat pulled down so low? You can really tell that Marcelo is from a warm climate. And Pepe’s really brave.
THREE. At the press conference, José Mourinho addressed the fatigue that most of our players seem to be suffering from. He said, “Real Madrid was eliminated from the Copa and the Champions early on in the last few years and so the players aren’t used to playing so many games. Playing nine games in a month is not a problem for some, but others aren’t accustomed to it, but I’m convinced (respectfully) that we’ll win against Lyon and continue on in the Champions, so these players will have to get used to playing more… And next year, they’ll be used to playing more.”
Mou also said the team plays better with Pepe, so it’s a good thing that he’s (almost) back, no? He also said that Cristiano and Xabi are two of the players that the “team depends on.”
He finished by sending out a message to the crowd that will fill the Bernabéu tomorrow: “I expect to see a Bernabéu that wants to get to the final and that will help its team towards that goal. The team needs the support of its fans. And I hope that no one hides balls or throws them onto the field.”
You can always, always count on Mou for statements like that! I love it! And I hope we all heed his words!
FOUR. Before the winter transfer market deadline, Madrid reached an agreement with Greek side AEK to loan out David Mateos until the end of the season. Good luck in Greece, David, and get lots of playing time! Hope to see you back in Madrid in August!
In other transfer news, Castillas’ Javi. H., Raúl Ruiz and José Zamora have been loaned out for the rest of the season to Swedish club Halmstad. Stay warm, chicos! A few days ago, Cristian went to Valencia Mestalla, while Castilla was strengthened with the arrival of central defender Iván González from Málaga.
FIVE. Some news on who sat with who on the plane ride back from Pamplona. The presence of Emmanuel Adebayor split up the duo of Cristiano and Kaká, because Manu sat with Cristiano, and so Richi sat with Garay. The other pairings were expected: Xabi & Arbeloa, Iker & Sergio…
SIX. Reader LaBlanca has translated for you all parts of this Mesut Özil interview from several weeks ago. In it, Ozi says that being in Madrid is like a dream, because so many great players have played for this club, because it’s the most successful club in the world, and because “we are like a proper little family.” He also talks about how the fans singing for five minutes for Alfredo di Stéfano (Gracias Viejo) before each game gives one goosebumps, and that he’s met his “idol Zinedine Zidane” several times, and “his presence is inspiring, even if he only said a few words to me such as ‘play your game’ or ‘I know you are in good form, you will do well.'” And of course, the obligatory question about what Cristiano Ronaldo is “really” like prompts this response: “Cristiano is a really great guy, we really get along well… He is completely down to earth. I don’t understand why people talk about an arrogant Ronaldo. He tells really good jokes.”
SEVEN. And LaBlanca also points us towards this gallery from the World Cup where Mesut and Sami Khedira are made up to look like animals – the results are colorful and kind of scary.
EIGHT. Sevilla president José María del Nido said he expects “only” a fine of €600 as a result of the bottles being thrown at Iker Casillas’ head during last week’s game. He expects that amount because that was what Athletic was fined after a coin was thrown at Barcelona’s Éric Abidal during a Copa del Rey game on Jan. 5, and that incident could be considered “more serious” than what occurred with Iker because it happened “during the game.” Excuse me? Regardless of when it happens, it shouldn’t happen! Del Nido probably knows who threw the bottles, and is going to give them bonuses as well.
UPDATE: Sevilla was fined €3,000 by the Competition Committee, and warned that if another incident like the one happens again this season, the Sánchez Pizjuán could be closed for one or two games. In addition, the fine would have been higher if Iker had been injured. Osasuna, meanwhile, was fined €602 for the ball throwing incident during Sunday’s game against Madrid.
NINE. For those of you who understand Spanish and would like a laugh, check this out. I love it! To make it relevant to this blog, this tweet: Cristiano Ronaldo es de Madeira, como Pinocho #turismobisbal (Cristiano Ronaldo is from Madeira/made from wood, like Pinocchio – Madeira is Portuguese for wood (the Spanish equivalent is madera)).