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all set for the Levant!*

September 18, 2011

Madrid takes on Levante tonight (20h) in jornada 4 of the Liga.  Upon arrival in Valencia yesterday, Sergio and the posing Xabi looked quite happy, in contrast to the cara de pocos amigos that Álvaro sported, as he must have been missing his twin,  Meanwhile, Iker and his inseparable mobile phone translated some more things from Spanish to English.  A party will not be easy, kids and cronies!

Earlier this week on Friday, Hamit Altintop joined the team for the first time ever (it’s been 81 days since his operation) for that day’s training session, which hopefully means that at last we’ll get to see him play soon.  On the other hand, Cris (right ankle bruise), Raúl Albiol (tonsillitis) and Nuri Sahin (no explanation needed) were absent from the session.  While those players who started the game against Dinamo Zagreb did recovery work with Rui Faria and José Morais, the other players held a more normal session under the supervision of Aitor Karanka.  They were joined by 11 canteranos: Lucas, Merchán, Martínez, Mandi, Raúl Ruíz, Jesé, Denis, Iván and Pablo from Castilla, and García Noblejas and Derik from RMC.  Mou spent the session walking back and forth between the two fields.  On Saturday afternoon, they trained once more before heading to Valencia.

Before that session, Mou spoke to the press, and this is what he had to say:

on the goal for this season: this season, we will fight not to play in the Liga Adelante next season.  Let’s see if we accumulate 40 points, which will mean we stay in the first division next season.  That’s our goal until we achieve 40 points.  If we do it quickly, then later on we’ll have other objectives.  But for now, we have six points and that’s not very much so we have to continue accumulating points until we have enough to stay.

on Raúl Albiol: as the season goes on, all the players are going to be important.  If people want to make up stories because he hasn’t played one or two games, that’s your problem.  It doesn’t worry me.

on Lass’ possible departure in the winter: it’s a closed case, especially after he played in the Champions.  It’s not an open case.  He’s our player, I like him, I’ve always liked him.  I didn’t want him to leave and I’m counting on him.

on Cris saying that he’s kicked for being rich, etc.: I can’t work, so I can’t comment either.  I’m not talking about anything that has to do with UEFA while I’m sanctioned.

on people saying the defense played badly during the Dinamo game: I can’t talk about the Zagreb game because, as I said, I’m still under punishment by UEFA and I don’t want to speak.  But if you all want me to give you something, a short comment, I can give you one from someone who didn’t participate in the game like me, who was just one more spectator.  I can tell you that my feeling is that it wouldn’t have made much difference if Casillas were in the goal or if I were in the goal, because he made one save in 90 minutes.  And that’s why when they say we defended poorly, that we have problems in the back, I think it’s a bit absurd.  Iker started the game with his yellow shirt and he finished the game with his yellow shirt, without one stain from sweat or from the grass.  Maybe it happened when I wasn’t paying attention, because I didn’t see Iker make one save during the game.

Mou called up 20 players for tonight’s game, with Cristiano recovering in time (cue people saying that this miraculous recovery is due to him never being injured in the first place), and Kaká also back from injury.  Despite his reappearance, Altintop is still not ready to play any matches, so he wasn’t called up, nor was Sahin, who’s still injured.  Albiol is out due to the tonsillitis and Esteban Granero due to the coach’s decision.

Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.

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

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

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín.

After the training session, the team flew to Valencia, where 200 fans met them at Manises.  Then it was on to the Westin, their headquarters in Valencia for this trip.  How cute are Gonzalo and Fábio here?

Karim Benzema and Lass met with fans at the hotel, signing autographs and posing for pictures.  Both of them, but especially Lass, have been looking much more relaxed as of late, and that’s great news.  And is it just me, or does Karim’s finger look super long?

Looking ahead to the game, EFE produced an eye-opening and interesting article (reproduced here) comparing the two sides based on actual data (though they did try to say something about intangible factors such as who is more “guapo” but it was quite stupid).  So, here are 10 differences between the two sides:

ONE.  Cristiano Ronaldo earns between €12-13 million a year from his club, while Levante’s entire squad only makes about €8 million combined.

TWO.  Madrid’s annual budget of €500 million is 20 times that of Levante’s, which is €23 million this season.

THREE.  Madrid has 96,000 socios, with 70,000 of those holding season tickets, while Levante has 10,000 socios for the 2011-12 season.

FOUR.  Madrid has won 73 national and international titles, including nine Champions League trophies, while Levante has won one Copa del Rey, during the civil war.

FIVE.  The hot topic of TV rights has Real Madrid earning €140 million a year, compared to Levante’s €12 million.

SIX.  That amount of €12 million is equal to 60 percent of Levante’s annual revenue, while it’s only 30 percent for Real Madrid.

SEVEN.  Levante’s last player called up for his national team has been Valdo with Cape Verde, while in Madrid’s last game against Getafe, out of the 14 players that played, 13 play for their countries, with Esteban Granero being the sole exception.

EIGHT.  In spite of all this, Madrid was unable to score at the Ciutat de València last season, in their two games.  In the Liga, the game ended 0-0 and in the Copa del Rey, they lost 0-2 after winning the first leg 8-0 and getting very muddy in the process.

NINE.  In Madrid’s six Liga visits to Valencia, the away team has always won, except for last year’s 0-0 tie.  Madrid has scored 10 goals and only allowed one.  Levante’s only Liga victory against Real Madrid was at the Bernabéu in the 2006-07 season.

TEN.  There are also many differences in terms of participation in European tournaments, marketing revenue, number of peñas

And AS tells us that Levante’s five defenders are a combined 169 years old: Javi Venta (35), Ballesteros (35), Munúa (33), Nano (31) and Juanfran (35).  They make Ricardo Carvalho look young.

As for Castilla, they also scored four goals against Getafe (B) today, winning the game 4-0.  The goalscorers were Óscar Plano, Joselu, MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín and Nacho.

Both Castilla and RMC came out onto the field for their games wearing shirts of support for Capote, who is still recovering from the heart problems that caused him to lose consciousness during a training session with Lucena last week.  MFC, in a gesture that ensured he will remain MFC for a long time (well, hopefully not too long because I’d like to see him play with the first team), also revealed the shirt during the celebration for his goal.  ¡Somos una familia!

In player news, Marca has an interesting article on what various players are studying and doing with their spare time.  Xabi Alonso and Álvaro Arbeloa have studied economics and business at the university level, while Esteban Granero is almost finished with his psychology degree.  He also attends creative writing workshops given by the Hotel Kafka project, as he would like to write a book.  Sergio Ramos is studying music, because his dream is to learn how to play the guitar.  He also attends English classes (ahhh, so some help is going on!), and would like to start studying INEF (physical education) as well.  Other players also want to learn English, or in the case of the foreign players, Spanish.  Mesut and Karim Benzema have shown a lot of improvement in this area.  Other hobbies include reading, music and charity work.  Meanwhile, in the cantera, the club tries to make sure that all the players combine their training sessions and games with their studies (you can see that many of our canteranos on twitter often tweet about going to classes or taking exams).  The majority of the canteranos who aren’t from Madrid board at a school, so that they can take classes as well.

Cris uploaded an ad he did with Banco Espirito Santo, which is worth watching just to see the few seconds where Cris attempts to moonwalk.  Watch it here.

On Friday, Xabi went to Leganés, to the Adidas store in the Parque Sur shopping center.  Xabi wore the new red Champions League shirt, and signed autographs and posed for photos with fans.  He didn’t say anything too interesting or new when speaking with Adidas, so I’ll just fill the space with photos instead.

That woman looks quite happy to be in Xabi’s presence, no?

Congratulations are in order for Nuri Sahin, who became a father for the first time earlier this week!  He and wife Tugba are now the proud parents of Ömer, and he called it “the best feeling in the world” on his twitter account.  I guess this picture makes more sense now.

And it’s been reported that José Mourinho donated the UEFA coach of the year (2010) award he received last year to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  Robson was of course his mentor and boss at Sporting, Porto and Barcelona.  The trophy will be auctioned off via an online auction from Oct. 8-23, with proceeds designated going to the foundation, which funds cancer research.

P.S. Good luck to Spain today in basketball and tennis!  We’re two sets from reaching the final of the Davis Cup as of right now (¡vamos Rafa!).  And some of the guys are absolutely crushed that they’re playing at the same time as the EuroBasket championship game…

* as Google translate tells Iker.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    September 18, 2011 13:17

    Mourinho giving his trophy to charity deserve a big “awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww” moment!.

    Now about the game, I cant believe people think that he was not injured or as some people say oh that was ketchup in his sock!! WTH! It is absurd, why go into this trouble, and I dont get are people not used to Cris quick recovery by now!!.
    I cracked up over Mourinho relegation comment, that was hilarious, BUT WHY IS GRANERO NOT CALLED! What did Pirata do to deserve to be a) left in the stands by Mou in UCL b) left out of two games in two away games in La liga, no long ago Mourinho was praising Pirata, something happened? any idea Una! I am actually upset over it.

    I have a question it is out of subject, but I am trying to remember why did we sell Miguel Torres back in 2009?..

  2. yvette permalink
    September 19, 2011 04:19

    Ohhh!!!! I was at that Parque Sur shopping center in Leganés back in May during a trip to Spain! To think that I was in the same place Xabi would be in.. =) ¡Me muero! lol…

  3. September 19, 2011 13:00

    New screensaver! What a beautiful sight, Sergio and Xabi’s beaming bright smiles as they de-plane…ahhh!!!

  4. Sunny permalink
    September 19, 2011 20:54

    I love the bits about what each player is studying. I hope Sergio’s English classes are going well.

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