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all set for Barcelona / the preview post

April 16, 2011

Tonight, the first of the four clásicos (almost) in a row!

The training session: the sleeveless trainings shirts were back at Madrid’s afternoon session yesterday at Valdebebas’ Campo 3 (making them look like they were in the middle of a park) because it’s finally warm enough in Madrid to wear them!  Well except for Cris, who wore long sleeves, despite the fact that he’s usually first in line when it comes time to show off his body.  And I’m glad he decided to keep his old Hollywood hair (though it was no longer like that by last night).

Seriously, what is this obsession with hair?  They were doing the same thing to Carvalho the other day…

Who will win the battle?

Anyway, Madrid held their last training session before today’s Liga game (22h), with 23 players participating, 22 from the first team plus Nacho Fernández once again.  Lass and Fernando Gago were the only absences, as they’re still recovering from their respective injuries, though Gago did run outside by himself.  Peter Lion made his return, having recovered from his left knee injury.  The team started the session 20 minutes after schedule, meaning that Mou probably gave the players a technical chat.

The call-up: nineteen of the players were called up for this game.  Gago and Lass didn’t make the cut due to injury, Esteban Granero is suspended for this match, and Peter Lion and Sergio Canales were left out due to the coach’s decision.  Nacho didn’t make it either.  So, the convocatoria looks like this:

Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Dudek.

Defenders: Garay, Albiol, Ramos, Carvalho, Pepe, Marcelo, Arbeloa.

Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Özil, Di María, Khedira, Kaká.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Adebayor, Higuaín, Benzema.

Since it’s a big game tonight, I will refrain from saying anything about Iker’s shirt (and you know that I normally would have a lot to complain say about it, and his pose) because I think my energy is best saved for cheering on the team tonight.  On the other hand, Ricky looked quite good, and back to his normal, choir boy self.

The Press Conference: (yes, in capital letters) The most interesting part of the day came during the press conference.  Over 100 journalists had turned out to attend the first 15 minutes of the training session and subsequent press conference.  However, Madrid’s communications department then informed the Spanish journalists that it would be Aitor Karanka speaking to the press on Friday afternoon, rather than José Mourinho, the 11th time that he would not do so.  They complained to Óscar Ribot, saying they wanted to hear from Mou as well, but their complaints came to nothing and so they advised that they would walk out in protest.  Thus, the moment the press conference began and it was announced that only Aitor Karanka would be responding to questions, about 30 journalists stood up and walked out of the room.

Among the 30 were all the Spanish journalists, except those from AS, Punto Pelota and Catalunya Radio, and seven foreign correspondents (Italian, Swedish, Portuguese and French).  They did tell the club that it was nothing personal against Karanka, but rather the absence of José Mourinho before such an important game.  Mou had known ahead of time that part of the press would do this, so he decided to attend the press conference with Karanka, the first time he had ever done that, in a show of support.  The only time he opened his mouth was when he offered his assistance as a translator for the English journalists.

Press agency dpa revealed that Madrid’s communications department had found out that Mourinho didn’t want to speak to the press, to the surprise of everyone, because he didn’t want to be the center of attention or to have his words misinterpreted, as that could create conflicts.

Karanka’s words: Karanka echoed these sentiments during the press conference when he tried to explain the reason for this switch: “each time the míster speaks, his words are magnified and it’s said that he’s being provocative.  We’re not the ones who have raised our voices recently and we don’t want anything to be taken out of context or be used to heat things up before the game.  We’d rather be tranquil than misunderstood.”  He added that his presence is not a “lack of respect” towards anyone, and in reference to the walk out, that “each one is responsible for his or her own actions, and out of respect for those who are here, I’m happy to be with you and it’s better not to talk about those who aren’t here.  It’s not the first time that I’ve spoken.”

He also said that what the fans are concerned about is not who speaks before the game, but “the team winning, and having a coach that works every day since the day he was signed, one that is 100 percent there for the club.”

All this led to the question as to which coach would speak after the game.  Up to now, in the previous 10 occasions that Aitor Karanka had spoken to the press before a game, he had done so after as well.  According to AS, it will be Karanka if Madrid wins, and Mourinho if Madrid loses.

Reactions:  personally, I thought it was very rude of those journalists who got up and left, and that it was disrespectful towards Aitor, although not intended to be so.  And while I would have liked for Mou to speak to the press, Aitor was right in that Mou’s words would get twisted around – and that probably a few of those journalists who walked out that have been guilty of that very action.  That’s why they were disappointed that Mou would be silent, because it would deprive them of an opportunity to create morbo.  In addition, why shouldn’t Aitor talk?  He knows the team and reflects the current sentiments just as well as Mou, so if you were looking to report just the facts, there’s no difference whether you hear Aitor or José speak.

Álvaro Arbeloa felt the same as me, because he tweeted the following: “I’m happy to see that Real Madrid does not give in to blackmail or pressure, and to see the fans being supportive.  It makes me happy, because they are Real Madrid.  Let me clarify, since it seems I need to: whether Mourinho made a mistake in holding a press conference or not can of course be debated and criticized.  But standing up Karanka is for me a lack of respect.  And having warned about it in advance is pressuring or blackmailing.  That’s how I view it.”  Go Álvaro!

Tweets: Álvaro also tweeted this photo from the dinner last night (Sergio did the same but I’m using Álvaro’s snap because it’s much clearer) of the Four Musketeers plus two goalkeepers (or all the Spaniards there last night) and one “great friend” Bruno, a super fan.  Apparently, he had said goodbye to the basketball team at Atocha (they were on their way to Zaragoza via the AVE) earlier before going to do the same with the football team, as Carlos Suárez and Sergio Rodríguez told Álvaro, who nominated Bruno for the honor of “socio de honor.”

It looks like Sergio has reverted back to his favorite pose, and he’s also contaminated Iker (however, Iker’s thumb had wilted a bit by the time it was Sergio’s phone’s turn to take the picture).  I love how touchy-feely they all are, with their arms draped around each other and things like that.  I also wonder who the photographer was?

More tweets: Esteban Granero, who is suspended for this match, had this to say today: “At home climbing the walls.  I get more nervous when I don’t play.  I dont understand why they didn’t revoke the card I received in Bilbao,” and “three things comfort me: Poe, the pirate photos you all are uploading to my Facebook, and the fact that I believe we will win today.”  ¡Pobrecito!

The plan for today:  today’s schedule looks like this.  The team will leave the Mirasierra Suites at 13:30h to have a stretching session that will last about half an hour.  They will be back in their hotel around 14h for lunch, after which they have time for a siesta as they will have free time until 17h.  At that point, they will get together to have a snack and hear the technical chat.  Madrid will arrive at the stadium around 20:30h, after Barcelona makes their entrance, and the game will start at 22h!  The club has prepared several things to welcome the team, including this banner, which we last saw during the Tottenham game.  That phrase was chosen because that’s their battle cry – it’s the last thing the players say to each other before coming out of the tunnel onto the field.  Meanwhile, in the fondo sur, there will be fans holding up yellow, white and blue pieces to form a mosaic of the escudo of the club.  Other fans will hold up white pieces, as that’s the color the club is known for.  And as for the game, any player who gets a red card will miss next week’s Copa del Rey final, so keep your fingers crossed that won’t happen to anyone from Madrid!

Stats, curiosities and data from Mr. Chip:

Almost even: Madrid and Barcelona have faced each other 209 times in seven official competitions.  Madrid has won 85 of those games and Barcelona 82.

The real clásico: the match-up most played in the history of Spanish football is Athletic-Madrid, which has happened 215 times.  After these four clásicos and the two Supercopa matches, the Barcelona-Madrid series will also have reached 215 games played.

Hopefully it will be a fort: Barcelona could become the only team to win three years straight at the Bernabéu.  Four teams have done it during two consecutive seasons – Athletic, Betis, Mallorca and Celta.

No to a 12th: the last 11 goals of the clásico have all been scored by Barcelona.  This hasn’t happened since 68 years ago, when Madrid did it.  If Barcelona scores first tonight, it will be the first time that a team has scored 12 consecutive goals without receiving any in return.

Happy 50th: this will be Mourinho’s 50th official game in charge of Madrid, with a balance of 38-7-4, and 116 goals scored and 29 against.  Pep Guardiola’s first 50 games with Barcelona ended with a record of 37-8-5, with 133 goals scored and 42 against.  In his first 50 games with Oporto, Chelsea and Inter, Mou won 37, 38 and 29 games, respectively.

Score the first one in the first 15 minutes: Madrid is the only team that has won all their Liga games after scoring the first goal.  Barcelona is the only team that has not received any goals in the first 15 minutes of the game.  Curiously enough, that’s when Madrid does their most scoring, with 11 goals during that time (four of them from Cristiano).

He likes Saturdays: Pep Guardiola has never lost an away Liga game on Saturday (24 wins and nine ties).  Meanwhile, Barcelona can become the third team in history to finish a season without any losses on the road, after Athletic in 1929-30 and Madrid in 1930-31.

A couple of distractions as we gear up for the first of the clásicos over the next 18 days:

– a nice article on the importance of Xabi Alonso to this team.  Diego Torres tells us that the locker room is governed by three parties: Mou is the legislator, Iker the moral authority and Xabi the commander in chief.  His teammates say that he’s the shrewdest guy on the team, and they view him with reverence.  Iker is responsible for shouting encouragement and criticism, so when voices can be heard in the locker room, that means that Xabi is quiet.  He’s the last player that Mourinho talks to before going onto the field, and according to a source at Madrid, “the only one capable of questioning Mourinho because he does it with style… Xabi is always constructive and very polite.”  Xabi is also one of the few players that neither ignores Mou nor changes his style to conform to the coach’s desires – he plays according to his convictions without slighting what the coach wants.

– a look at all the different kits Barcelona and Madrid have worn over the years.  Some are quite ugly, and some bring back very nice memories.

– Cristiano will debut his new safari Mercurial Vapor SuperFly III boots during the clásico.  In these two videos released by Nike, he talks about his pregame ritual – what he eats, his few superstitions, and this gem: “Sergio Ramos puts a few songs, sometimes Spanish ones, it’s not bad but Marcelo is a better DJ so I prefer Marcelo’s music.”  In the second one, he introduces his boot and talks about how he likes to give “assistance” (assists).

– to end on a good note, here’s the picture of Juan Carlos (aka el galgo de boadilla) that MFC tweeted yesterday.  It looks like MSFC has been taking posing tips from Sergio (hopefully fashion tips will not be next).  And why is there a shopping cart in the locker room?

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37 Comments leave one →
  1. yudi permalink
    April 16, 2011 10:57

    Great post una. Mou always make the headline, even if he’s being silent.

  2. Iram permalink
    April 16, 2011 11:01

    Una, thanks for your post. I’m sure you’re busy today, but you always make time for YOUR fans to read your blog. Hopefully tomorrows post will be a happy and positive one. Have a good weekend.

    (And Ikers shirt is beyond hideous-I’m sorry but it is)

    • Deb S permalink
      April 16, 2011 21:08

      Well said! Thank you Una!

  3. IsaBella permalink
    April 16, 2011 12:16

    The training pics are gorgeous! 🙂
    I really feel sorry about Pedro Leon…. I’m afraid that if Mou continues at RM he will have to go…
    The polemica about the press conference is really not as important as tonight’s game so let’s just leave it behind.
    Another thumbs-up :/ just when I hoped the V would be the new pic pose…
    Xabi is the only player to be able to question Mourinho: I have absolutely no doubts about that 🙂

  4. Marta permalink
    April 16, 2011 12:56

    First of all, thank you for the amazing work and effort and love you put in this site. It’s fantastic! 🙂

    Secondly, in Italy young boys give little slaps to the neck or the head when some of their friends cut their own hair! Maybe it’s the same in Spain? I don’t know, but maybe it is! ;D

    x

  5. Cosi permalink
    April 16, 2011 13:30

    “a look at all the different kits Barcelona and Madrid have worn over the years. Some are quite ugly, and some bring back very nice memories.” 1994 = ugliest kit EVER

    Not surprised by the journalists who walked out, but definitely agree with Alvaro’s tweet. Complete disrespect for Aitor, and so low to blackmail in the first place!

    Love the stats. Thanks, Una! You’re awesome!

    • April 18, 2011 23:20

      Oh my god YES What is with the paw prints??? Although I think all the ones from the early nineties look terrible lol 89,91,92

      1998 and this years was the best!!

  6. superfan permalink
    April 16, 2011 13:44

    I honestly think that what the journalists did was disrespectful, especially to Karanka. They knew beforehand that it would not be Mou and for them to just walk out just because they want Mou to speak and not Karanka was simply rude. Props for Mou, Karanka for not giving in to the pressure from the media! And to Arbeloa too for expressing his opinion. I agree with him too. 🙂

    And the grocery cart was also the first thing that I noticed upon seeing that photo of Juan Carlos. Why is it there? Really. Haha.

    Absolutely brilliant post, Una!!! Thank you for this. 🙂

    Too nervous about the game later but Hala Madrid!!!

  7. April 16, 2011 13:44

    So, that first photo is excellent, so is the dinner twit pic from Alvaro. OMG they are all so good looking. o-O
    Who is that flicking Peter Lion? Alvaro?
    And seriously – why the shopping cart? Why is he posing with it? And why is it bandaged around the front there? Do they play some sort of team building bumper car game and we just don’t see the rest of the fleet? That would be fun to watch… Imagine your favorite first team players in this game… Who drives, who rides…?

  8. April 16, 2011 13:56

    ear flick!

  9. April 16, 2011 14:26

    If I’m not dead at the end of the four games it will be a miracle.

    HALA MADRID!

  10. April 16, 2011 14:37

    Hope the boys can win tonight!!!!! really do!!!

  11. gaelle permalink
    April 16, 2011 15:14

    lol una its not obsession with hair. it is the flick that the Portuguese national team usually do to the person who either losses the ball during ball works or say the wrong thing….. lol so u get the lick from every one else

  12. kiki permalink
    April 16, 2011 15:25

    Oh Una! How did I miss all this? I think it is the natural Clasico nerves!!!
    I find the Press rude and disrespectful. Mou cannot win for losing with them! But all said & done, they will always lose to Maestro Mourinho! Haha! They just want their money & more of his words to skew and manipulate. Whether they meant to disrespect Aitor or nor – they did. How dare they? They are lucky to breathe the same air as the wonderful Aitor Karanka! What a bunch of petulant brats! Stay pressed, Press!

    I love what Álvaro said, he is spot on! Sparta!!! & for whatever reason our boys like to touch each others hair, I don’t know why, I just hope they keep it up! 🙂

    Last but not least, thank you for the Xabi article. I am glad he gets the recognition he deserves. This may be the only thing that can slightly distract me before the match…
    “…Xabi the commander in chief. His teammates say that he’s the shrewdest guy on the team, and they view him with reverence. ” Oh, Una, I am swooning…swooning I tell you! UNF!!!!!
    Thank You & HALA MADRID!!!!

  13. Cindy permalink
    April 16, 2011 16:07

    GOOD LUCK TO OUR BOYS TONIGHT.

  14. Sisi permalink
    April 16, 2011 16:34

    Hi~~ Add oil tonight, begin our 1st victory in the 4 battles!!!!!!
    I agree that those journalists are too unrespecful, it doesn’t matter
    even Jose not saying a word, hope he won’t need to say after the match too~~

  15. ECT permalink
    April 16, 2011 16:46

    Great as always una! I kindof wonder if this ear-flicking thing has anything to do with this old video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bz3t2RR9rWc Another mou-technique?

    HALA MADRID and HALA UNAMADRIDISTA!

    • ECT permalink
      April 16, 2011 16:47

      (see 2:49 in the video to see what i mean)

  16. mema permalink
    April 16, 2011 16:53

    i wish the team the best. i wonder whats going on with mou and cris there. cris didn’t seem happy at all yesterday.

  17. Ange permalink
    April 16, 2011 17:44

    Thanx Una!!!

    as for the uniforms… lets just say … THANK GOD I LIVE & BECAME OF FAN THIS YEAR!!!! …. the fashion back in the day… what were they thinking….

    love the pics … but really the thumps up / peace signs … are getting on my last nerves…

    & the shopping cart…I know that in my school the trainers (i was student trainer in high school) we would use the carts to carrie uniforms, towels & other athletic equiments that was either to heavy or we had alot … I know I used when I was washing uniforms/towels… BUT IDK WHY HE WOULD USE IT IN THE PICTURE!!! … *lol*

    As for what happen yesterday…1st I was laughing…Cause I really couldn’t believe what just happen…but I agree 110% w/ Alvaro (I can’t believe that an “empano” can be soo smart *lol* j/k) …

    That & I feel it was VERY UNPROFFESSIONAL!!!!

    as for the game tonight i’m hoping for tie … I’m but I don’t think either team will take all 4 games … sooo who knows???

    Una I got 2 question for you…

    1. Who will advance if both teams tie in Champions???

    2. I’m new @ being a football fan…sooo…what happen with Raul… why is he not in Real Madrid anymore??? Cause watching GOL TV … They were talking about what an amazing player he was with Real Madrid & what an amazing player he is with el Shalke 04 (spell check)…

    • April 17, 2011 17:49

      1. If the aggregate score of the two games is tied, then the team who scored more away goals advances. If it’s still tied, then overtime (two 15-minute periods) and if it remains tied after that, penalties.

      2. The short version: his role with the team was diminishing, and he wanted to play more, so he went to another team.

  18. mar permalink
    April 16, 2011 19:02

    hala madrid!

  19. Lalitta permalink
    April 16, 2011 19:20

    Hala Madrid! I hope you win tonight ..
    I need to say this, i absolutely LOVE the first picture. All the guys look so HOT! Ican’t get my eyes of Ramos and lovely Benzema.
    Even Mesut looks good… speaking of Özil, am I the only one who have noticed a change in him? He is becoming more of a badboy theese days, is like his confidens had got a huge boost. He looks more and more like Cristiano with his hair gel. He is also getting more aggresive on the pitch. I love Mesut, but I kinda miss the old, humble, big eyed Ozi Ozi 😦

  20. cisarovna permalink
    April 16, 2011 21:12

    I think the whole press conference situation is a bit funny. I suspect Mou knew by not speaking much of the attention would be directed at him, instead of the players. The “journalists” played into his little trap. But perhaps calling them journalists is a bit generous, maybe they are a bit more like novelists?

    HALA MADRID!

  21. Deb S permalink
    April 16, 2011 21:17

    Thank you for explaining the press conference. I saw Arbeloa’s tweets but of course 1) google translate didn’t quite get the translation right & 2) I had not heard about the press conference drama so I really wasn’t sure what his tweets meant. Great analysis about the conference tho. I agree with Arebeloa on this one. How rude!

    Loved the part about Xabi. But, I guess I can say that I am not surprised, particularly the part about Mou. Xabi just seems to have the class to pull it all off without pissing anyone off.

    Poor Granero! It’s one thing to be hurt and not able to play but to have to sit out because of cards…. :'{ How sweet tho that he thanks his fans for sending the pics and says that this is part of what is helping him “cope”. And he likes Poe (as in Edgar Allan?)?! I really like this guy!

  22. April 16, 2011 23:27

    Honestly, I think Mourinho was rather disrespectful to the journalists as well who gather to hear him speak since he is the manager and the club. And as far as blowing statements out of proportion goes, Mourinho often does that on purpose to deflect attention from his team and on to himself. He uses the media as much as the media uses him.

    I do understand how it could have been hurtful for Karanka, but I still believe the journalists did the right thing by walking out.

  23. evita permalink
    April 17, 2011 00:18

    That was a nice game. Albiol, Albiol, Albiol…really? I can’t with the ridiculous mental errors!

  24. gaelle permalink
    April 17, 2011 00:45

    una hun got a tittle for next ICYMI a draw that feels like a win

  25. Hala_Madrid permalink
    April 17, 2011 08:32

    Una we should be proud of our boys. I know it was a tie but we played with 10 men for 40 min. I’m so pumped for Copa del Rey Hala Madrid!!!! I’m also supper happy for C.Ronaldo he’s the best!!! HALA MADRID!!

  26. Jenny permalink
    April 17, 2011 09:06

    They are not playing with hair – they are flicking ears!

    I’m betting the Germans brought this habit with them. It is common in Germany – as a playful way of teasing someone – and they do it on the national team to the captain of the “side” that loses their training matches.

  27. Surbhi permalink
    April 17, 2011 11:26

    Hi Una, just a quick note to say I can’t wait for your ICYMI report!!!

  28. Vic permalink
    April 17, 2011 13:44

    Hey Una! I wanted to ask you how you got your photos from the site? I wanted to get the one of the Bernabeu with the escudo but I can’t seem to save it from the site itself. I hope you could help me as you post pics from their site. Thanks!

  29. April 17, 2011 16:14

    thank you for your amazing photos..preview..and up to date news about madrid 😉

    siempre madridista,
    hala madrid ^^

  30. Pammie permalink
    April 17, 2011 23:52

    thanks for the summary of the article on Xabi! I guess Diego Torres got more respect for him than he got for Kaká or Cristiano (or Mourinho).

    I’ve only read it now, but it’s been a great preview! 😀

  31. Entchen permalink
    April 18, 2011 20:47

    ->Meanwhile, Barcelona can become the third team in history to finish a season without any losses on the road, after Athletic in 1929-30 and Madrid in 1930-31.

    didn’t Barca lose to Hercules Alicante right at the beginning of the season? or I’m misunderstanding what you mean. o_O

    • April 19, 2011 11:35

      Barcelona lost to Hércules at home. This piece of datum is for their ROAD (away) record.

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