in case you missed it – the save the best for last edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Sevilla [2011-02-02, Copa del Rey semifinals vuelta].
They made us suffer until the very last 10 minutes, but we are through to the Copa del Rey final on April 2o! And against Barcelona, no less!
One of the game summaries stated that “Benzema is like the type of student that produces under pressure, the type that leaves all the studying to the night before the exam, because he’s convinced he’ll remember more that way.” It’s a funny but correct assessment, because with the “test” of Manolo (that’s the new nickname the team has given him) Adebayor’s presence, Karim gave us a great game, despite not scoring a goal. He came away with an ovation from the Bernabéu, which is the highest praise a Real Madrid footballer can earn.
ONE. In a departure from convention, let’s start with what happened after the game first. You can see why I would choose to do this, no? It’s shirtless Sergio!!!
TWO. And then jumping back in time about 115 minutes to the moments right before the game, we have Cristiano running into the team photo, and the moment of silence held in honor of former madridista José Llopis Corona, who passed away recently at the age of 92. He was the last surviving member of the Real Madrid team that inaugurated the Santiago Bernabéu stadium back in 1947 in a game against Os Belenenses.
Look at how Álvaro just reaches out to grip the thighs of Ángel and Mesut!
THREE. Moments, part I.
While Benzema worries about forming the wall, getting in the right position and making sure that Sevilla won’t score a goal, Sergio is only concerned that every single hair on his head is in the right place. And if you were watching the game on TV, were you hoping that Álvaro Arbeloa really would come crashing into your living room?
FOUR. The boys of the banquillo are so cute. When the halftime arrived, they were hanging out by the entrance to the tunnels, probably ready to defuse any scuffles just like last time Sevilla visited the Bernabéu.
FIVE. The goals. Both were extremely welcome, beautiful and came off of great passes by Mesut and Manolo’s partners in crime, Sami and Lass, respectively.
The two goals.
The individual celebrations. Had I been sitting in the Fondo Sur, I would have jumped up to try and catch one of Ozi’s kisses. I love his kisses celebration (and he totally endeared himself to the madridismo even more by kissing the escudo), as well as Manolo’s tumbling celebration.
And the team celebrations. As you can see, hugging and head rubbing are still their favorite ways to celebrate.
The final whistle blew right after Adebayor’s goal, which sent Mou directly to the locker room. Meanwhile, the players continued celebrating out on the pitch.
SIX. Fun expressions from Cristiano Ronaldo. The thing he did with his lips remind me of Iker during the game against Portugal in the World Cup. Maybe that’s where Cris saw it? Of course, Iker did a much more advanced version of it, while Cris is still stuck on the basic level.
SEVEN. Moments, part II.
Álvaro can’t believe the call – and his response is a wink. Meanwhile, Antonio Adán yells at the fourth official to tell the head official to blow the whistle for the half already!!.
EIGHT. The Bernabéu responded to Mourinho’s call, and came out supporting their team during the entire game. At one point, the Fondo Sur was awash with bufandas, and before the game, the Ultra Sur displayed this sign: Lucha, Casta y Honor (fight, class and honor).
Other signs displayed in the stadium: “Tu escudo nuestra religión, los títulos en el corazón” (your escudo is our religion, we hold your titles in our heart) and “El madridismo no se rinde nunca” (El madridismo never gives up).
NINE. Moments, part III.
Cristiano yells out a certain word, and Esteban Granero takes a few pointers from Xabi and starts directing things, even though he wasn’t even in the game yet (he was waiting to be subbed in).
TEN. Up close and personal with Sami Khedira, as you have never seen him before.
In the first picture, he resembles Karim a bit, no?
ELEVEN. After the game, Iker said the team was happy to get to the final, and he personally was happy as well, because he hoped to win his first Copa del Rey in what will be his third try (third time’s the charm, no? I really hope so because losing those two finals hurt. I was so upset…) because that’s an espina clavada for him. Iker also revealed that Manolo is integrating quickly into the team. For his part, Adebayor said that he was also very happy, because he scored in his debut, and that he was also happy for Benzema’s great night.
TWELVE. I thought this moment was so cute. Sami went down after colliding with Sergio, and Cris stood over him, talking with him to make sure he was ok (maybe it was because Cristiano was the only person out of all those around him that Sami could actually speak a common language with). And then Cris helped Sami up once he was ready to get up. Is it any wonder that Sami and Ozi have repeatedly praised Cristiano Ronaldo as a teammate and as a person?
THIRTEEN. Moments, part IV.
Mesut Özil makes his best effort to stop an entanglement from happening, but no one pays any attention to his soft words and actions, and the confrontation develops around him. Pobrecito! And then he acted out for Fernando Navarro the reasons why Madrid was upset, remaining very cute while doing so.
FOURTEEN. I can’t help but post these, since Jesús Navas’ eyes are so gorgeous. With that said, Álvaro Arbeloa did an excellent job defending the flank and he totally shut down Navas.
FIFTEEN. Front and back.™
The Cristiano special. After seeing these, no other pictures of the others could compare. This is from the same play, by the way.
SIXTEEN. Moments, part V.
Sergio totally ignores Mourinho and his instructions as he jogs down the wing. Earlier, he had expressed his disappointment with Fernando Navarro with a subtle shake of the head. And he also licked his lips. Mmmm.
SEVENTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
It’s a good thing that he’s so good at posing, because he was just regular in this game.
EIGHTEEN. Iker got feisty after Raúl Albiol made a dangerous play. Later, on, he wasn’t too happy with his wall (he kept yelling “allá” at them). Loving the angry and emphatic gestures!
NINETEEN. The Mou corner.
He gave us pure theater at one point. Three separate gestures of disgust rolled into one moment.
After the game, Mou expressed contentment for the way the team responded and for the effort they put in. In typical Mou fashion, he also took a dig at the journalists, saying that “it’s easier to be a journalist than a coach. The coach is asked to make rotations, but if things go wrong, it’s his fault. And if he doesn’t rotate, then the team gets tired and it’s still his fault. It’s easier to comment on it than to make actual decisions. I can’t wait for young players or those coming back from injury when the core group is playing well. In addition, there are players I can’t leave out for their importance on the team.”
Receiving praise were his three forwards: Adebayor (it was complicated to score on his first touch of the ball and while playing at home), Benzema (he had a fantastic game), Cristiano (he worked very hard for the team. He has my confidence and the affection of his teammates). Mou also revealed that MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín (those weren’t his words though) will be with the first team next season because “he’s doing really well and scoring goals.”
TWENTY. Moments, part VI.
This one just made me laugh. Álvaro thinks the ref is going to help him up, but his outstretched hand is just completely and utterly ignored. (Meanwhile, Xabi continues posing madly in the background.) And Cristiano and Sergio Sánchez share a moment, complete with head and cheek caressing.
TWENTY ONE. Other game notes:
– a chat of “Del Nido, die!” was heard after Madrid’s first goal. Not classy Bernabéu, not classy. Don’t turn into Sevilla, please.
– Mou didn’t really relax until Ozi scored, and that was in the 81st minute. He saved his three substitutions until the final part of the game, in order to waste time.
– Gonzalo Higuaín was seen watching the games in the stands, and José Mercé in the palco de honor.
TWENTY TWO. Looking ahead, sponsored by feisty Xabi.
– Sami Khedira didn’t finish the game as he had a deep bruise in his knee that became inflamed. According to the team’s doctors, it’s not serious and he could be available for the next game against Real Sociedad this weekend.
– The team has today off and will begin preparing for that game on Friday.
– And a look at this history of the Real Madrid-Barcelona Copa del Rey final pairing: this will be the sixth time that these two teams meet up in the final of this competition, in more than 100 years of history. Out of the previous five match-ups, Barcelona came out on top on three occasions (1968, 1983, 1990) and Madrid twice (1936, 1974).
– Apparently, Fernando Gago and Pedro León will be fined by the club for their little scuffle earlier this week, with the sporting side of the sanction to be decided by Mou, who already left them off the convocatoria for this game.
Now we can forget about the Copa del Rey for two months and concentrate on the other two championships!