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the Champions League distraction post

February 22, 2011

To get you up to date, and distract you a bit and keep you from over thinking about tonight’s big game…  José Mourinho said yesterday:

Real Madrid is the champion of the champions in the history of European football, and we have to play with that pressure and with that conviction.

That sums things up pretty nicely, no?  The only option we have tonight is winning.  More on what else Mou said later, but first:

Arrival in Lyon

Pepe looked like he was having fun as the team boarded the team bus, and I’m sure Lass was happy to be back in a country where he understands everyone and everyone understands him.

Karim Benzema was greeted with cheers and chants of his name in Lyon, as was Zinedine Zidane, who received more applause than most of the players.  Who can blame them?  Look at him!  He looks fantastic!  Zizou needs to join forces with Aitor Karanka to teach a master class on how to dress and choose the right accessories.

The press conference

Mou and Ricardo Carvalho were joined at their press conference in the Gerland by surprise – and very welcome – guest Zidane.

Mou refused to reveal his starting line-up (“you all can try and get it out of me with more questions, but this time I’m the only one who knows it, not even the players know”) because he didn’t want to make things easier for Lyon.  He also stated, “I didn’t do anything special or different for this game.  We started talking about the game and the rival on Monday.  We know what we want and have to do to win this round.”  Mou was in a good mood, answering the question of what the keys to defeat Lyon will be: “scoring more goals than them.  No, en serio, they’re a tough and intelligent rival that know how to play these types of games.”

Meanwhile, Ricardo Carvalho showed why he’s the teacher’s pet (after all, he and Mou have been together in three teams!) when he said, “the most important thing is to respect the tactics of the coach, to do what he asks of us on the field.”  He also talked about his own performance as of late, saying, “I feel very good.  I’m playing at a good level and I’m in the midst of a great professional moment.”

Mou interrupted Ricky to say, “Ricardo is like wine from Oporto (port).  The older he is, the better.”

Mou told explained special assistant to the president Zidane was present: “Zinedine obviously knows Lyon better than we do, because he follows French football, and he also knows Real Madrid better than anyone else, and so he gave us a report, which he spent two months preparing.  He’ll always be with us during the Champions League.”

Zizou himself said – in Spanish – that “I elaborated this report more with the mentality of a player than of a coach.  I’ve watched Lyon a lot this year and I thought it would be good to write a report.  There are professionals in Real Madrid that do this, but I wanted to help… My work is not important.  I’m one more on the team.  I’m here to learn, and bit by bit I’ll contribute more things.”  Starting with the fashion class, please!

Gorgeous, gorgeous man.

Game trivia (to impress your friends with)

Looking ahead to the game, Cristiano needs to be careful, because if he receives a yellow card tonight, he’ll miss the second leg game in the Bernabéu on March 16.  Raúl Albiol is also one card away from serving a one-game suspension.

Mou and Carvalho had previously eliminated Lyon from the Champions League back when they were at Porto in 2003-04, and Cris had done the same when he was with Manchester in 2007-08 and Kaká with Milan in 2005-06.  Mou/Carvalho and Cris ended up winning the CL with their teams in those seasons.

Ricardo Carvalho spoke yesterday with TVE about that experience, including the goal he scored in the first leg.  The best thing is seeing how much hair he used to have, and how he wore all that hair!  It looks like a lampshade!

And to be a bit pessimistic: no current Real Madrid player has ever won in the Gerland.  Iker and Sergio have visited three times with Madrid, and lost three times.  Pipita, Marcelo and Gago have lost twice with Madrid.  Albiol, Arbeloa, Benzema, Lass, Garay, Granero, Pepe and Dudek have lost once with Madrid.  Adebayor has lost twice with Monaco, Xabi once with Real Sociedad and once with Madrid, Carvalho and Mourinho tied while with Oporto, Cristiano tied twice while with Manchester and lost once with Madrid, as did Kaká with Milan.  Khedira lost while with Stuttgart.

Mid-post diversion: a guessing game

Who are these players?  Answers at the end of the post!

FP at “El Larguero”

Meanwhile, SER’s “El Larguero” also traveled to Lyon, where they spoke with Florentino Pérez (part one here, part two here, part three here).  I love the little anecdote involving Karim Benzema and Ronaldo!  And I really, really hope that I can trust FP with what he said about Mourinho’s staying power, a tribute for VDB (because it’s so obvious to everyone but FP how much VDB loves Real Madrid) and who Madrid is going to “repescar” this summer.

on Benzema: years ago, when Ronaldo was playing in Madrid, Jean-Michel Aulas (Lyon’s president) asked me for a signed shirt.  He told me it was for a 16-year-old boy who played with them.  It turned out that kid was Karim Benzema.  He had it in his house when I went to see him, and he told me this history and showed it to me.

on Ronaldo: I sent him a message and he replied via message, thanking me.  He was one of the best players in Real Madrid’s history.  He was a player that didn’t like to train; that was the problem with him.  He only liked to play.  He told me that he trained while playing on Wednesday and Sunday.

on himself: I was more egotistical the first time around than now.  You learn from everything.

on Mourinho: he’s the best coach in the world and that’s why we signed him.  We strive for excellence and that’s why we should have the best in all positions…. Mourinho does almost everything well and he identifies with the values of Madrid: sacrifice, ambition and effort.  He has a four-year contract.  I’m convinced that he will fulfill that contract and be here for many more years after that.

on Mourinho vs. Valdano: the whole thing was blown out of proportion.  It’s true that Mourinho wanted more autonomy, and Valdano and I thought it was a good thing.  They traveled together today because Mourinho never asked for him not to travel with the team.  Each one respects the other’s work, and both are necessary and compatible.

on Iker vs. Cristiano: I helped them to solve the misunderstanding they had.  Cristiano misinterpreted what Sara Carbonero said, but this misinterpretation lasted only ten seconds after he saw the video and understood.  It was resolved before the game against Espanyol.  Now they have a perfectly normal relationship, and they wanted to go together to the hospital to hand out presents so that everyone could see that everything was normal between them.

on Zidane vs. Figo: it’s true that one day Zidane complained, since he’s a player with personality, and the problem came to me and I spoke with Figo.  This was also resolved and I know that they are great friends.

on Raúl: I speak quite a lot with him and I watch all his games because I’ve become a fan of Schalke.  He did what was right for him.  He’s a very special player, much like Di Stéfano.  Real Madrid is his home.  He will return when he wants, and he’ll be an important part of the club in the future.

on Vicente del Bosque: we have a great affection for Del Bosque for what he did for Real Madrid.  He has our affection and he’s in the hearts of the madridistas for what he did as a player and as a coach… we’re working to give him the recognition he deserves… I don’t regret not having renewed Del Bosque, because we made a decision and we believed it was a correct one at that moment.

on possible signings: two possibilities that we are considering for June are the return of Dani Parejo and José Callejón.

José Mercé was also a special guest on the program, and he sang a few lines of his interpretation of the Real Madrid himno, which you can listen to here.  Alternatively, you can listen to him kiss up to FP here, or listen to the classic song “Al Alba” here.

Adebayor at AS

And Manolín Adebayor spoke to AS.  This loan has been great for all of us, not only on the field, but also because Manu is revealing so many things to us.  First, he tells us about Sergio and Iker speaking English, and now he talks about dancing!  Unfortunately, he doesn’t name names, but I think we can guess who he’s referring to, for the most part, though it would be great if there was a surprise or two in there, no?

You just got to Madrid, but it seems like everyone loves you already.  How are you feeling?

I’m a happy man because I integrated very rapidly.  I have to thank the players who made it easier for me.  I speak with Benzema, Lass, Cristiano, Özil, among others.  The welcome was fantastic.

What was the key to the quick integration?

The locker room is a happy place where the players like to laugh.  And many of them like to dance! A perfect atmosphere.  My teammates have taught me several words of Spanish already [tacos no doubt] and they’ve treated me like a friend.  Everything’s going well and I want to fight for this team, because it deserves to win many titles, starting with the Champions League.

But first you have beat Lyon.  What a game it will be!

The Champions League is very important for me.  I’m happy to return to France, a country I know well.  I’m happy to return to the Gerland because Lyon is a club that I have a lot of affection and respect for.

It appears that you will start.  Has Mourinho said anything to you?

I don’t know anything.  I know that there are games in which I will play, that there will be others in which Benzema will play and others where both of us will play.  I was very happy last Saturday when Karim scored the goal and I hope he does the same in Lyon.  I would like for him to be the one to help Madrid qualify.

What is working with Mourinho like?

He’s a very special person.  When Mourinho speaks, everyone listens.  He has a very strong character.  We have a huge amount of confidence in him.  Mourinho prevents us from making mistakes.

Xabi at Real Madrid

In this video posted on Madrid’s youtube page, Xabi doesn’t really say anything new or original, but it’s worth watching just to feast your eyes on Xabi and hear his distinctive voice.

Diversion answers

Left to right:  Raúl Albiol, Lass, Kaká, Benzema, Adebayor, Granero, Adán, Canales, Arbeloa.  How’d you do?

18 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 09:24

    OMG, what an AWESOME post, it must be one of the coolest pre-games posts EVER!

    I am currently reading it, Una, and I had to stop to comment and also – to stare at Ricardo Carvalho’s old hair. The old picture with him and Zidane is PRECIOUS!!!!! I also love his partnership with Mou, so much!

    Geez, they all look fine, adult mature man of Real Madrid, in this press conference. And with the recent picture of Aitor Karanka looking hot as hell in his classy outfit, I am starting to develop a serious thing for the RM Fathers. 😉

  2. amouria permalink
    February 22, 2011 09:44

    Lovely coverage dear Una. Thanks a lot. Although i am so happy to read all the interviews with almost all our players, I doubt the wisdom of RM regarding this issue. The players should be given the space to think and focus instead of having such a strong exposure before an important game. I hope we have not made the same mistake that we committed before our match with barca…
    Looking forward to tonight’s game. I am already preparing for all sorts of things to be done before and during the match (yoga, prayers, sending positive energy, etc).

  3. sweetubi permalink
    February 22, 2011 10:06

    You are an angel.
    I ditch Google and go to you instead.. I may not posted much here, but this site is like my home page. Thanks a million.

  4. Ally permalink
    February 22, 2011 10:29

    I got Lass, Kaká, Adebayor, Adán and Arbeloa right 🙂 It wasn’t easy!
    Thank you for this distraction post, it was very amusing, but it doesn’t set my mind off tonight’s game 😉 I’m quite nervous…

  5. superfan permalink
    February 22, 2011 12:24

    Thank you so much for this news round-up(?)! 🙂

    “He has a four-year contract. I’m convinced that he will fulfill that contract and be here for many more years after that.” – God I hope this is really true. I really want Mou to stay on with us for more than a year.

    “we’re working to give him the recognition he deserves… “- finally. Only took them long enough.

    “I don’t regret not having renewed Del Bosque, because we made a decision and we believed it was a correct one at that moment.” – okay. I cannot with this comment. There were probably hundreds of unknown reasons why they did it but still, it was such a sad/painful moment. 😦

    And as for the match, here’s hoping and praying that we can finally beat Lyon! I have faith in our boys! Oh, and I love love love what Mou said about the club. 😀

  6. February 22, 2011 13:58

    If you can imagine an overexcited, nervous, hyper, hopeful 2yr old running around in circles – well that’s me right now. I’m so worked up that I already ready to puke.

    I don’t care what the pundits say, or what the records say, or even the odds – my team is the best and we will win.

  7. blitzen permalink
    February 22, 2011 14:10

    Just popping into wish your team luck in tonight’s game!

    And Oh. My. God. That picture of Zidane! Gorgeous.

  8. February 22, 2011 14:36

    Zizou lookin’ spiffy! ;^*

    In the diversion photo, it may be an illusion of depth, but it looks like Granero is arm in arm w/Adan, like they are strolling through a park. 🙂

  9. IsaBella permalink
    February 22, 2011 17:23

    ‘Carvalho is like wine from Oporto’ – I loved that! 🙂
    and Xabi’s video mmmm…. simply delicious to watch.

  10. Annee permalink
    February 22, 2011 18:13

    Zinedine looks so incredible with a v-neck over his team shirt and tie. The man is class. Him and Xabi should seriously think about tutoring some of the other boys.

  11. gabriela permalink
    February 22, 2011 19:37

    I love Manolito and I cannot lie! He just seems to be a really funny guy to be around. I hope he’ll do great things while he’s with us, so he can get signed for good by the end of his loan contract 🙂

  12. johanna permalink
    February 22, 2011 20:29

    great post as always!
    I’m really looking forward to the game tonight! 😀

    I got Albiol, Lass, Kaká, Adebayor and Adán right, not too bad!

  13. Michelle permalink
    February 22, 2011 21:41


    (I know, I know, he has been hot for a long time! but not much in the public eye! But if you’re going to emerge to make a big appearance, you should only look as good as THIS.)

  14. gaelle permalink
    February 23, 2011 00:19

    una hun, why the heck did madrid go for a walk. are they tourists now?

  15. February 23, 2011 06:19

    i awwed so hard when i saw wt he said abt benzema, but “I don’t regret not having renewed Del Bosque, because we made a decision and we believed it was a correct one at that moment.”

    i will forever hate you for sacking him and Hierro, and i can’t believe you still wouldn’t admit you were wrong, after all these years, FP.

    thanks Una, i love ur blog ❤

  16. Kat permalink
    February 23, 2011 12:54

    Oh, FP. I know the issue is (almost) dead and buried, but couldn’t he have answered the Iker-Cristiano question in a different way? “I helped them to solve the misunderstanding they had.” And “they wanted to go together to the hospital to hand out presents so that everyone could see that everything was normal between them.”

    Really, HE helped them? And the comment about the hospital only convinces more that their pairing was deliberate. Uggggh.

    Although I really do hope that he’s learned from the past, as he says. For the sake of the team, the fans and more trophies, I really, really hope so.

  17. Oui permalink
    February 23, 2011 15:36

    hey, okay, so I’ve never left any comment here and I felt that was actually time to say, how much I adore your blog!! All the information you give, all the special things about each player – everything made me love this team even more – if that is possible. So I just wanted to say ‘gracias’ for having such an awesome blog and I hope you will be updating for years to come!
    Haha, this was weird ;):)

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