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all set for Barcelona (yes, again)!

August 14, 2011

It seems like it was just yesterday when we were living through the three weeks of clásicos, and now it’s back!  Madrid plays Barcelona – again – tonight at 22h in the first leg of the Supercopa de España.  You could already tell that this is going to be an unusual and entertaining game starting on Saturday, as Madrid opened its training session to the public AND Mou spoke to the press.  I foresee good things this season, in part because Mou said no one will be able to shut him up!

The training session/party started a bit after 19h, with José Mourinho walking onto the field at the Bernabéu, and receiving the rock star treatment (his coaching staff accompanied him, but the cheers weren’t for them).  Mou responded by applauding each corner of the stadium.  Iker also received a warm welcome, with the habitual “Iiiii-kerrr, Iiiii-kerrr, Iiiii-kerrr” chant as he jogged onto the field with Marcelo and Pepe, and the rest of the players waved as they came on.  There was a party atmosphere in the Bernabéu, despite the heat, with some 57,000 people (more than many first division games) turning out to watch Madrid, including many persons from other parts of Spain and tourists, as most madrileños have fled the city during its hottest month.  If it was like that during the training session, I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like tonight!!!

People had started to line up outside the stadium hours before, with lines snaking around the Bernabéu.  The streets around the stadium were cut off, as the police weren’t prepared for so many people.  When the players showed up half an hour before the session, many of them had problems entering the parking lot under the stadium, due to the sheer number of people waiting in the surrounding area, and because the people swarmed around the cars once they spotted them.  [Side note: it looks like Esteban Granero has finally gotten his Porsche washed, as it was caked in layers of dust and dirt for a long time.]  After the session, a multitude of them once again hung outside “el parking,” hoping to catch a glimpse of the players and Mou.

And though it wasn’t a game day, the stands selling snacks, flag, scarves, jerseys, postcards, etc. were present around the stadium, making the atmosphere much like that of a game day.  Inside, there were the usual posters, signs begging for shirts, flags (though there was an absence of bufandas, as it was much too hot).

The session lasted less than an hour, and Zidane and Nuri Sahin watched it unfold from the bench/tunnel.  The other injured and/or unwanted players were absent: Drenthe, Lass, Peter Lion, Altintop, Gago.  Sergio Ramos trained without problems, while girls screamed, “¡Ramos, guapo!”  In total, 20 players (19 from the first team, plus Jesús from Castilla) trained on Saturday afternoon, plus Esteban Granero, who ran around by himself to the shouts of “¡vamos Pirata!” and “!ánimo, genio!”  The team started out by warming up, then did some strength exercises, before playing a mini-game in which they could use any part of their body except their feet to move the ball.

The team then did some passing exercises and ended with another mini-game, which included an “espaldinha” from Cristiano Ronaldo.  The players said goodbye by launching balls into the stands for the fans, who in turn gave their team an ovation.

The twenty players out on the pitch were called up for the game.

Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.

Defenders: Carvalho, Pepe, Marcelo, Coentrão, Varane, Arbeloa, Albiol, Sergio Ramos.

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

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín.

Is he trying to tell us something?

José Mourinho spoke to the press after the session from the stadium’s press room.  He confirmed that Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos (he’s “perfect”) will start the game, and his only doubt is whether to put in Ángel de María or Fábio Coentrão.  However, he refused to reveal the rest of the starting XI.  This is what else he had to say.

on what he learned from last year’s clásicos: I learned that I can’t speak the truth [I love this answer!!].

on speaking up:  no one can shut me up and I’ll continue talking because that’s the way I am.

on UEFA and the CL: I won’t speak about the Champions while I’m sanctioned.  I won’t speak.  I’ve had some important wins in my career as a coach, but the fact that an organization like UEFA, which is not a juridical, normal or democratic organization, reduced my sanction has a tremendous significance.  A tremendous significance, but not a bad one.  They didn’t reduce it even more because then it would be a strange situation, but for me, it was a great victory.  But I am sanctioned for two more games, and while I’m sanctioned, I won’t speak about the Champions.

on the squad: the squad is short because that’s how I want it…  The squad is short but we also have in Castilla some boys who – I can’t say more quality – are more mature than before.  These kids have already worked with us, they have played many games with us, in addition to playing the Euro for young ones which they won [the U-19 Euro – Álex, MFC and Dani Carvajal were on the squad].  They can help us out and we can do the same for them.   I hope we have a bit of luck and won’t have any serious injuries and we can go until the end with this group of 20 players, plus the goalkeepers and the boys (from Castilla), whom we have confidence in and who are working hard and well…  The market is open until Aug. 31, but my intention is for no one else to come or leave.  We have a balanced team, with 20 players, two for each position and some can play multiple positions, so I’m happy with what I have.  I have confidence in them and they in me.  I can say that I don’t want any other players.

on the Supercopa: the Supercopa is an isolated tournament and in my opinion it doesn’t have much to do with what will happen in the future.  In Inter, we lost the Supercopa and then we won the triplete, and in the year before, we won it and then later on only won the “Scudetto.”  They don’t have much to do with each other.  Normally, I say that it’s the most important tournament of the summer and the least important one of the season.  That’s how I see it.  It’s more important than any other trophy that you play for in the summer, but less important than the Liga, Copa and Champions… but we want to win it.

on not requiring the concentración for this game: it’s been a lot of time outside [of Madrid] in the U.S. and China, with their national teams.  A lot of time.  We’ve only been in Madrid for two days between tours and the people miss their families who are here.  And the competition is beginning, with the trips and the three games a week.  It’s a good opportunity to let the players be tranquil at home.

on Barcelona: how is Barça doing?  It’s not my problem.  I don’t want to evaluate them.  I only have to talk about my team, not Barcelona.

on the preparations: we had 26 training sessions and played seven friendlies.  Twenty-six sessions of one and a half hours and seven games of one and a half hours as well.  We did the work as we had planned, in the best possible way despite the trips, the change in time zones… Today’s training session was an exception.  We’ve planned the season as best we could.  I told the players that we weren’t just preparing for the Supercopa, but for the season.

on Sahin and Varane: [Sahin] is improving, in contrast to what some with bad intentions have said about him.  He’s recovered well and he’ll be training with the team after the hypothetical game against Athletic if the calendar goes as planned.  [Varane] is a boy with huge potential, but he’s young and has to work hard.  He’s very intelligent and he knows that he has a lot to improve.  We have a lot of confidence in him and he’s won us over with his humility and hard work.  It’s very easy for people to fall in love with him.  He’s a great player.

Looking ahead to the game, AS takes a look at the parallel lives of Iker and Xavi, whose paths only diverged in the summer of 2000, when Iker went to play in the Eurocopa and Xavi the Olympics.  They debuted in a clásico on the same day, Feb. 26, 2000, when Madrid won 3-0 behind goals from Roberto Carlos, Anelka and El Moro.  Tonight, Iker and Xavi will face each other for the 25th time (21 Liga, two Champions and one Copa del Rey).  Xavi has actually played two more clásicos, as Iker missed out in the two Champions League games in 2002 when César started.  Of the 24 clásicos played, Iker has won eight, tied six and lost 10.  The two of them met when they were 17, in the U-17 World Cup in Egypt.  Since then, they have faced each other on the field many times, as stated above, and also shared a ton of success together with the national team.  They even starred in a commercial together back in 2002, in the “Operación Danet” ad for natillas, alongside Àngel Llàcer.

Iker says of Xavi, “he’s a phenomenal guy, he makes you love him and he has some wonderful traits.  He’s very great for someone who’s so small.  I have a soft spot for him.”  And Xavi says of Iker, “from the time I met him, he’s transmitted an amazing tranquility.  It doesn’t matter whether someone is shooting at him point blank or from the penalty spot.  You always think, “Iker will stop it.”  And he does stop it.  It’s a shame that he’s in Madrid, he’s a very close friend, but he’s very annoying, he drives me up the wall because he saves so many things.”

The players started their concentración this morning at 10:30h, meeting at the Bernabéu before heading to the Mirasierra Suites Hotel.  The next training session will take place on Monday at 17h in Valdebebas behind closed doors.

The way Karim, Mesut and Sami are positioned makes this look like a poster showing the evolution of man, no?

Muy jefe.  And I see that despite the sunny weather in Madrid, the sun has not managed to penetrate Iker’s skin.

Meanwhile, Castilla ended their pre-season with a 1-3 loss to Gimnástica de Torrelavega.  Jesé scored the only goal for Castilla.  Álex was expelled during the game.  My poor FC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín appeared to be quite dejected with this result, as he tweeted after the game, “I played a bad game, I messed up on a penalty and when I had chances.  And the team lost.”  Castilla’s record this pre-season thus stands at 2-2-2.  They’ll make their season debut on Aug. 21 against Sporting B at the Di Stéfano.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    August 14, 2011 16:45

    This super copa is not as important as any cup, it is actually very symbolic to kick off the season, BUT lifting a trophy in Camp Nou infront of Barcelona will mean alot, winning over them will show them how unfairly we been treated, it is a reply back to all doubters of our club and coach. I hope we win, it also set the mood for next season.

    Do it for the fans Madrid, HALA MADRID, VAMOS VAMOS! and finally< I have a feeling this classico will be very calm one and victorius if god will! Hope I am right!

  2. August 14, 2011 16:55

    I don’t want Mou to shut up, I just hope he picks his words properly in order not to be sanctioned and create unwanted problems especially with UEFA.
    57,000 in a training session! Madridistas are so great, I wish I could be with them.
    The Iker and Xavi story is very nice, but today its back to being enemies on the field.

    ¡Hala Madrid!

  3. Theresa permalink
    August 14, 2011 17:09

    HAHA yes about the pic of Benzema, Ozil and Sami. Going from luggage bag to man purse is evolution in modern football.

  4. August 14, 2011 17:29

    HALA MADRID!!! There are 7:30PM where I am, and the match starts at midnight my time. Despite that, I’m practically at the jumping up and down stage!!!

  5. @ulonghaz permalink
    August 15, 2011 07:39

    Hi Una,
    I’m just wondering if you have seen this pictures

    http://www.revistacuore.com/fo​tos/madridistas-al-desnudo

    Check for yourself 😀

  6. August 15, 2011 08:31

    “The way Karim, Mesut and Sami are positioned makes this look like a poster showing the evolution of man, no?”

    Hilarious/brilliant/true! This is why I read una madridista 😀

  7. August 15, 2011 17:16

    I love that in the last photo, Karanka seems to be looking at Iker while thinking “man, you’re so white!” Haha.

  8. K BADER permalink
    August 16, 2011 02:03

    Iker says of Xavi, “he’s a phenomenal guy, he makes you love him and he has some wonderful traits. He’s very great for someone who’s so small. I have a soft spot for him.” And Xavi says of Iker, “from the time I met him, he’s transmitted an amazing tranquility. It doesn’t matter whether someone is shooting at him point blank or from the penalty spot. You always think, “Iker will stop it.” And he does stop it. It’s a shame that he’s in Madrid, he’s a very close friend, but he’s very annoying, he drives me up the wall because he saves so many things.”

    Why the statement, “It’s a shame he’s in Madrid”. Compare that with the unqualified affection from Casillas. This short man has serious issues.

    • Pam permalink
      August 16, 2011 17:52

      Or perhaps he meant that he’s far away being in Madrid. He said in the next sentence that he is a close friend. I know I’d want to see my close friends on a daily basis or more often than someone who lives in a city that is quite some distance from mine.

      Xavi and Iker do have close relationship so avoid twisting everything they say in a negative fashion! This applies to both Madridista and Cules.

  9. Jessie permalink
    August 16, 2011 15:25

    cristiano was supposed to get me pregnant, not the other way around,lol

  10. Con La Leyenda Blanca permalink
    August 16, 2011 15:48

    Excellent post Una! I love what the club did by opening the Training Session.

    The support at the game seemed excellent. The squad put on a great show! Too bad we only came out of it with a draw. Those cules must be counting their lucky stars.

    Just letting you know you have a follower all the way in the small twin island state of Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean. Followed you all last season and intend to do so as long as you keep on posting. Excellent stuff.

    Ijaz.

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