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all set for Barcelona – last time until December!

August 17, 2011

We’ll have a four-month break from clásicos after tonight’s Supercopa vuelta game at the Camp Nou at 23h.  The next time these two clubs meet won’t be until Jornada 16 of the Liga, which is scheduled for the weekend of Dec. 10-11 (it’s a home game).  But first, we have the chance to win our first title of this new season.

With that in mind, Madrid trained at Valdebebas yesterday afternoon.  During 80 minutes, 23 players, including four canteranos (the Fernández brothers, Mejías and MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín) worked out under the orders of José Mourinho.  Absent were Esteban Granero, Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop (the last part of this sentence is also something that I’m starting to type automatically).

The good news was that Esteban Granero was included on the call-up list, but it appears he hasn’t completely healed from the bruise to his left quads, as he still garnered a mention in the club’s medical report last night.  Meanwhile, Jesús Fernández was swapped with Tomás Mejías, though Tomás will most likely be a game-day cut, along with three other players.  And it appears that MFC will be Madrid’s third pure forward!

Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.

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

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

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín, Morata.

During his press conference, Aitor Karanka refused to divulge the starting XI, but confirmed that there will be changes, though not anything “drastic” (most bets are on Fábio Coentrão starting in place of Ángel di María).  Karanka also said the coaching staff was very happy with how the team played on Sunday: “the result obliges us to win and that’s what we’re going for.  We have a lot of desire, especially after the first game… all madridistas left the game happy with the play of their team.”  He also explained that MFC ABMM was scheduled to be called up once he returned from the U-19 European championship, and defended Pepe from criticism: “if anyone knows Pepe, it’s us, and we know what kind of guy he is.  He lives the games intensely and for us, it’s important to have players with this type of character.”

Once everything was completed at Valdebebas, the team – including Zidane! – took a bus to Barajas to head to Barcelona.  They arrived at El Prat a couple of minutes after 23h, where they were greeted by a hundred or so fans who chanted Pepe’s name in a show of support and gave José Mourinho (flanked by his own security detail) an ovation.  More fans were waiting at the team’s hotel, the Juan Carlos I, where they once again cheered the team.  And Iker travels light – while others had backpacks/messenger bags or wheelie suitcases or both (I’m looking at you, Fábio), our captain carried just a toilet bag (it’s not a clutch, no matter how much it looks like one).  Plus, didn’t XIT and Álvaro look fantastic?

In a message posted on his Facebook, Iker told us, “we just arrived in Barcelona!  Tomorrow, we have the second-leg game of the Supercopa de España.  We came with a lot of desire to play well, like in the first-leg game.  P.S.: what a starting time for the game!  We’ll start on Aug. 17 and end on Aug. 18.  I understand that the broadcasters have authority, but this is incomprehensible.  I’m of the opinion that the final of the Supercopa should be one game on a neutral field, this way it will be more exciting (as it is in Italy, Germany, England…)  Hugs people!”  I agree with Iker – one game is enough, and no game should be played starting at 23h and ending at 01h the next day.  It’s not so bad now because it’s the summer and it stays light outside much longer, but it’s still ridiculous, and probably only happens in Spain.

Should Madrid win the Supercopa, they won’t be able to celebrate at their usual site of Cibeles, due to the staging of World Youth Day (or week, rather) in Madrid this year.  This has caused the city government to close off to traffic three of the four big avenues around the plaza: the Paseo de Recoletos, the Paseo del Prado and the Calle de Alcalá (on the Gran Vía side).  The city government is thus speaking with Madrid about finding an alternative celebration site, with the Bernabéu as the most likely candidate.  In any case, a celebration looks unlikely during the early hours of Thursday morning, as the team won’t arrive back in Madrid until four in the morning at the earliest, and there is the (scheduled) game against Athletic on Sunday to start preparing for.

With regards to that game, the AFE and the LFP still have not met, five days after the AFE announced a strike for the first two jornadas.  They have been unable to agree on even where or when to meet, so reaching an agreement on more serious issues, such as a salary fund, seems unlikely at the moment.  The AFE had announced that they had set up a meeting yesterday in Valencia for negotiations, which the LFP denied, saying there is a meeting scheduled for this morning at 10h in Madrid.  The AFE in turn refused to confirm if they would attend or not.  There are only three days left before Saturday, when four games are scheduled: Espanyol-Granada, Levante-Zaragoza, Villarreal-Sporting, Osasuna-Valencia.

So, it looks like the Liga BBVA will not start as scheduled.  But at least we still have the Iker promo for the Liga, including some new “making of” footage.

And if Madrid needs any motivation to beat Barcelona tonight, here it is.  In an interview with El Mundo, Xavi was asked, “if Guardiola is Ferran Adrià, then Mourinho is…”  Xavi’s answer: “Guardiola will make history, Mourinho will win titles.”  There is also this quote: “in Can Barça, we don’t know what it means to play dirty.”

16 Comments leave one →
  1. mickymacky permalink
    August 17, 2011 10:19

    i’m starting to believe altintop is a figment of everyone’s imagination… haven’t seen his unibrow since… ever… 😐

  2. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    August 17, 2011 13:10

    Yes! I am kind sick of classicos a bit, can we push the next classico to next year!
    I was this close to remain netural with xavi, but he can’t help it, can’t he!, so winning titles is not history Xavi? this statement doesnt make sense. If we win the title will players get their family and celebrate in Bernabeu lol! That would be fun to watch, no?!

    Anyway HALA MADRID! Whatever happen, I want us to play an amazing game, you think that Morata is the third striker! It seems like it, isn’t it? I SURELY HOPE TOO! YAAAAY! I want see him play today.

    I 100% agree with iker, please SFF, listen to your wise captain, everywhere they play one game! playing 2 in less than 3 days difference and finish in the next day, it is ridiclious!

    • Kari permalink
      August 19, 2011 23:37

      Ikr! Xavi’s statement makes zero sense. In order to make history you have to win titles or else its like choosing someone that hasnt scored a goal as the best soccer player in the world.

  3. manie permalink
    August 17, 2011 13:24

    And if Madrid needs any motivation to beat Barcelona tonight, here it is. In an interview with El Mundo, Xavi was asked, “if Guardiola is Ferran Adrià, then Mourinho is…” Xavi’s answer: “Guardiola will make history, Mourinho will win titles.” There is also this quote: “in Can Barça, we don’t know what it means to play dirty.”

    I want us to beat Xavi the troll SO BADLY. Hala Madrid!!!! Thanks for an excellent recap, Una.

  4. kai permalink
    August 17, 2011 13:49

    hi una! y what happened with pepe? i kindda don’t get it..

  5. Lorelei permalink
    August 17, 2011 15:27

    I really hope we win tonight/tomorrow morning!

    As for Xavi, I expected nothing less. He’s a great player, and a phenomenal jerk. Mou has already made history and he will continue to make history as well as win titles. And “in Can Barça, we don’t know what it means to play dirty”? Is that why they do it so often?

  6. Gabriela permalink
    August 17, 2011 15:30

    LOL Xavi. He thinks Pep would be making any history without winning titles? He lives in eternal denial, it seems.

  7. August 17, 2011 16:08

    Ah, and just when I thought Xavi might surprise us all and not resort to that talk again. I won’t hold my breath.

    So excited about tonight. Thanks for the updates, Una! Hala Madrid!

  8. superfan permalink
    August 17, 2011 16:23

    I guess Xavi isn’t aware of Mou’s accomplishments because I’m pretty sure Mou has made history. But then again, it’s Xavi so…

    Anyway, thanks for this update, Una! 🙂 And I (and ever Madridista out there) super duper hope and wish and pray that Madrid wins!!!! Aaaacccckkkk.

  9. black widow permalink
    August 17, 2011 17:52

    “in Can Barça, we don’t know what it means to play dirty.”

    HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAAH! *wipes tears from my eyes* no, really. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! ahhh, thanks, xavi, i needed a laugh today!

  10. black widow permalink
    August 17, 2011 17:54

    oh. and, um, that gif of iker … i think i’ve watched it possibly 200 times by now. mesmerizing! he’s so beautiful. 🙂

  11. brownkat05 permalink
    August 17, 2011 20:20

    I used to really like xavi but he keeps saying things like that and I just kinda like him a little less each time…

  12. Maryland Madridista permalink
    August 18, 2011 03:55

    I am so sick of Barcelona’s “holier than thou” attitude. Sick of it! The game tonight was a disgrace once again with all the play acting and bad tackles… I would like to not play Barca again for another year like someone else mentioned. It’s impossible to play against a team that breaks like glass every time you get near them. BLAH!

  13. August 18, 2011 09:13

    Altintop who? *sigh* is he going to be the broken glass man instead of Kaka’ this season? I’m still wishing we never bought him … =(

  14. Sadia permalink
    August 19, 2011 01:55

    I can’t believe the game is starting at 11pm! That is indeed crazy, would never happen in England. I mean I know in Spain people have dinner and go out much later but still!

    Anyway thanks a lot for this 🙂

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