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all set for Racing!

September 21, 2011

Madrid takes on Racing at 20h today in a rare mid-week Liga game.  It’s also been a rather rare week for us, starting with the events during the Levante game and culminating in Santander yesterday, where we caught a glimpse of the rarely seen Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop.  Why were they along for the trip?  All that and more in the post…

Ah, so this is what it’s like to be part of the team.

On Monday, Madrid trained at Valdebebas in their first preparatory session for this week’s midweek game against Racing.  Twenty first team players took part in the session, along with two canteranos: Tomás Mejías and Iván González.  Pepe and Coentrão did not make an appearance, as both finished the game against Levante with injuries.  Pepe has a “fibrilar tear on the semimembranosus muscle of the left leg,” while Fábio has a “fibrilar tear on the soleus muscle of the left leg.”  They join Nuri Sahin in the sick bay, along with occasional patients Hamit Altintop and Cristiano Ronaldo, who still has pain in his right ankle.  That means that Pepe and Coentrão won’t be playing against Racing, and neither will Sami Khedira, as he received a red card against Levante.  Anyway, as Sergio tweeted, “there’s no time for regrets, all we can do is continue working.”  On Tuesday, there was another closed door training session in the afternoon.

For the first time since he arrived, José Mourinho called up every single one of the players on the first team, and even threw in a canterano, Tomás Mejías, for good measure.  Despite being suspended (Khedira) or injured (Pepe, Coentrã0, Sahin, Altintop) or apparently no longer part of Mou’s plans (Granero, Albiol, Callejón), every single player made the trip to Santander.  Apparently, this trip is seen as being an opportunity for team building, and to show to the outside that this team is a piña.

Goalkeepers:  Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.

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

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

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín.

During his press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Mou had this to say.

on whether he’d feel responsible if the team ends up in a brawl again: I don’t feel responsible.  I don’t know if what Khedira can be defined as a brawl.  To me, that’s not a brawl.  A brawl was what happened, for example, in the Spain-Chile game.  You all said that was spectacular, incredible, that it showed the spirit of the team, the tremendous character of the players, that they were like brothers.  If Real Madrid does it, then we’re a group of bandits, no?  Khedira is very calm, he doesn’t use his strength or his body to fight.  He was one of the last people I expected to do this, but he did it and he was sent off, the team lost and on Wednesday he can’t play in Santander.  I’m not worried because he won’t do it again, he’s not that type of person.  After he finishes his sanction, he’ll be like any other player to me.

on the lack of Spaniards in his line-ups: it’s because I don’t have very many, I only have a few.  And because I can’t play Casillas and Adán at the same time, or Sergio Ramos and Arbeloa.  It’s also difficult to play with Xabi and Granero at the same time.  And we don’t have any more.  [Do José Callejón and Raúl Albiol have “x’s” by their names and do not exist to Mou?  ¡Joder!]

A hint to the journalists?  And/or a preview of Cristiano’s later gesture?

on Cris’ supposed lack of protection from the referees: I don’t have much to say about that, since I already talked about it months ago.  I don’t think it’s positive for me to always be talking about the same thing.  The referees are there to see and decide.  You have to understand why Dinamo ended with 11 and Madrid with 10.  Khedira, for a childish action, was sent off.  But it’s more important that a Dinamo player left Cristiano practically out of the next game.  They’re different competitions and games, but I can’t understand.

on calming down Pepe: I don’t think I can do anything.  The referees should be the ones to control the traps and the provocations, to study each player, each team, each stadium.  The rest depends on the personality of each player and the control he has over himself.

[I do think that Mou can speak with Pepe about trying to exercise more self-control, no?  From what we’ve seen of Pepe off the field, he appears to be a great guy, but on the field, there have been quite a few actions that have made me cringe and bemoan that it was coming from a Real Madrid player.  The same goes for Di María and his bad acting – as many of you have pointed out, Mou should have a talk with him too.]

on Sport saying, “don’t ever leave, Mou, since you came to Madrid, they’ve lost titles, their image and their señorío“: thank goodness I wasn’t the coach during the Copa del Rey final, thank goodness.

Madrid flew to Santander yesterday afternoon, where they were greeted by about 100 fans.  As they emerged from the terminal, Sergio stopped to sign autographs, and Pipita had his arm around Marcelo, while Iker had his arm around José Callejón.  On the tarmac, Iker snapped a photo.  I like how he got the backs of Xabi and Alvarito’s head.  It must have been right after this moment above.  I’m surprised Sergio’s tresses didn’t fly in for the shot – they must know how photogenic they are.

As the team was getting onto their bus, Cristiano Ronaldo was filmed flipping someone off.  At the time that it occurred, some people wearing Barcelona scarves were shouting insults at Pepe.  The team hastened to explain that the gesture was meant for Pepe, and not those fans.  Punto Pelota contracted the service of a lip reader to read what Cristiano was saying at that precise moment.  According to the show, Cristiano told Pepe, who was on the receiving end of those insults, “don’t listen to them, screw them,” (in Portuguese) and then he made that gesture.

Later on, at the hotel, Cris did this.  For once, that thumbs-up is acceptable, as it’s much better than that previous gesture.  However, that winking?  It reminds me of that super awkward picture of Manolito Adebayor…

As for the fan session, Pepe and Khedira (I guess they’re allowing the players who will play tomorrow to get some extra rest) signed autographs and posed with pictures with the fans.

I’m looking forward to seeing Adrián!!

Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk going on about what Sami Khedira supposedly felt after the game, a “rebel group” within the team, reactions to Mou’s words from the press conference after the Levante game… do you all want me to address these things?  I’ve seen in the past that things always get sticky when you start talking about rumors, but I also think it’s good to be informed of everything that’s being said about the team, so that you can defend it when the occasion comes up.  I look back with nostalgia on those days when there wasn’t any drama, just football…

And if you haven’t already seen it, head here to see a behind the scenes video of the photo shoot Iker did recently with Reebok and Steven Klein (they got quite a prestigious photographer, no?).  While I love the fact that Iker was the star and mostly everything he wore was skintight, I can’t get over the hair.  Plus, the end results aren’t very Iker-like, so that’s why I’m not dedicating too much space or even a post to it.

24 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    September 21, 2011 12:00

    We are having one of these days, that you just want see games and hear nothing about your team news, this cris gesture,pfffffft! Whatever..
    I agree Mou should talk with Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo, but I cant help wondering if Mou himself is encouraging this behaviour.
    Pepe actions has been like this since he joined us, I dont remember pepe not being reckless on the pitch and I hate it, since he is such nice person even on the pitch when it comes to his buddies even something rivarly.

    I am tired of all of this, aren’t all we tired of this drama, I am sick of Mourinho’s conference even, when is he getting his ban so Karanka will take over?…
    I dont hate Mou, but I seriously need a break from all of this..

    Yes, to comment on Callejon, Granero and Albiol issue, Why did we buy Callejon if he is not part of Mou’ plans!!, Granero no long ago was praised and Albiol oh well! I think he doesnt have a place anymore…..

  2. manie permalink
    September 21, 2011 13:24

    Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk going on about what Sami Khedira supposedly felt after the game, a “rebel group” within the team, reactions to Mou’s words from the press conference after the Levante game… do you all want me to address these things?

    Yes, definitely. I also think it’s good for us to be informed of the major things being said. Thanks!

  3. cisarovna permalink
    September 21, 2011 13:32

    I am glad the whole team is together, we need some unity no?

    I am also happy that Mou seems to have taken a little time to say something constructive about Sami (I guess that is what you would call his comment). It seemed to at least indicate he was not an automatic Peter Lion.

    I can make some guesses about what is being said about Sami and Mou (Sami felt bad and Mou was compensating for his own inadequacy), but rebels? I appreciate you like to avoid the rumors, and for good reason, but you have got me curious with that one.

    • Mandy permalink
      September 22, 2011 12:37

      I agree with you. I think Mou may talk to Sami and Sami expressed his feeling about this issue. Mou said something positive about Sami was trying to comfort Sami and the team. I guess he wants to show that he has no intention to hurt Sami.

  4. O'Rly permalink
    September 21, 2011 13:47

    “do you all want me to address these things?”

    yes please/ the more the merrier.

    plus, could you also explain this:

    I didn’t fully understand what happened. I understand that only 3 players were supposed to warm up, and nobody wanted to. but how come the players decide who warms up?

    thanks 😀

  5. Sam permalink
    September 21, 2011 13:59

    Una, I’d definitely want to read your presentation of the “rumours” and talk. Thanks! Love that the whole team traveled, definitely hated moments of the last game, and hoping tonight’s game is a great one and we can put the Levante debacle to rest.

  6. Victoria permalink
    September 21, 2011 14:58


    I really appreciate your blog, good job, keep it up !

    I watch Punto Pelota every night and with all the rumors, I’m getting a bit nervous.
    Do these journalists are reliable and how do they know all these stuff ?
    What do you thing about the “rebel group” and why it’s only the Spanish players ?
    All these rumors came from after a defeat, so I really don’t know what to think…

  7. mumblo permalink
    September 21, 2011 15:24

    I’m interested in hearing about Sami’s supposed feelings, which I haven’t read anything about and the alleged “rebel group,” about whom I’ve only seen re-tweets, no primary sources.

  8. mickymacky permalink
    September 21, 2011 15:35

    i’m so out of the loop 😦 i had no idea callejón is now also considered superfluous to mou’s plans (i did wonder why he was no longer played in matches)… eugggh and i also feel bad for esteban 😦

  9. Barbara permalink
    September 21, 2011 15:39

    I would like to know what Sami felt after the game–I think he was treated badly by the press & other players have gotten red cards & not been called out by the coach. He shouldn’t have pushed the other player, but maybe he couldnt how hard(!) DeMaria had been hit & thought he might have really been hurt. I watched him when he played for Stuttgart & he has always seemed to be a vey calm player. I disagree with Jose about controlling his players ( Pepe) on the field–as a last resort if the player can’t control his reactions/emotions then let him sit on the bench for a game. I don’t think dropping to 10 men lost the match — RM have won before with 10 men.And if Jose was warning his players that someone could get sent off, it Jose’s job to have a plan on what to do when that happens. Its a team sport & I dont think 1 person on the team is responsible when the team loses.I think Sami is underappreciated by the press/fans & coaching staff & if he transfers to
    Bayern Munich in the winter it may be better for him & his career.

    • Jenny permalink
      September 21, 2011 17:02

      I agree with you. Singling out Khedira after months of no criticism for Marcelo, Pepe, Carvalho (all of whom are regularly sent off) or di Maria (whose behaviour is sometimes a disgrace) was faintly obscene. Why this player, now? – and after a year of impeccable behaviour? I leave aside the fact that his sending off was absurdly harsh to begin with and that his first “foul” involved no contact and a very clever dive.

      Anyone who knew Khedira before he came to Madrid (and anyone who has seen him at Madrid) will know he is a very level-headed and extremely considerate player. And yes – if Khedira’s not happy with the crappy way he is treated by (for example) the Spanish sporting press (which is nothing more than a glorified gutter-press), then I can think of several top-class teams he could transfer to – and then we can all enjoy the perils and insecurities of a midfield without him while some other team gets the benefit.

      I disagree with you on one thing however – I think his sending off was determinative because he is that bloody good and is quite irreplaceable. Sending Khedira off is like losing two players. When Mourinho is in his right mind he has been known to say that having Khedira on the pitch is like playing with 12 men.

      At any rate, I hope he isn’t unhappy and wants to stay because I think he’s brilliant.

  10. RaulMadrid permalink
    September 21, 2011 16:46

    Hi Una,
    Great Post as always!! Just a quick question, did Mou actually say that Granero (fan favourite) and Callejon were not “in his plans” or are we just assuming that due to the recent team selections/substitutions? I hope Callejon is still in the plans, i think he is a the only winger we have on the bench that could influence a tight game that needs width.

    And Everyone is dying for more on the Spanish Rebel Group (sounds like something from Star Wars) please spill the beans Una!

    • unamadridista permalink*
      September 23, 2011 16:51

      No, he hasn’t said anything about players not being in his plans.

  11. September 21, 2011 17:18

    Nuuuuriiiii Sahiiiiin!

    I cannot wait to see him play. You know how you when you buy a cute new outfit and you have to try it on as soon as you get home? Same feeling. 😛

  12. tiare23 permalink
    September 21, 2011 17:50

    I would love hear your take on the rumors, Sami, and the ‘rebel group’. I’ve felt badly for Sami; being called out so publicly by his manager on more than one occasion has got to sting.

  13. Kristen permalink
    September 21, 2011 18:29

    Great post as usual, Una. Thanks for all that you do to keep us Madridistas all over the world informed.

    I have so many thoughts, but the first is that I am really sick and tired of the red cards and play acting. There are certain players like Sergio and Pepe who have always been a bit wreckless on the field, albeit great people and great defenders. What I don’t like seeing is our team getting into fights every other game. This is something that I think Mou instills in them and I am so sick and tired of it, it is not admirable behaviour. I really ache for the days back a few years ago when we FOUGHT for every win, but we fought with our hearts and brains. We would be down a goal and score in the 90th minute to win it (and now poor Higuain, who was responsible for so many of those last ditch efforts and literally winning us the league in the past, has been relegated the bench role while Mou while Benzema blows shot after shot. I dont say this to upset Benz fans but really, Higuain deserves way more respect than what he has been shown by Mou). We have lost that fight and drive and forget what crest we wear on our chests… and now we have a new sense of fighting… fighting players from other teams. It is so NOT Madridismo and is an embarassment. My husband is a cule and I have to defend my team to him every week and I’m sick of it. I want to win titles, but I don’t like what Mou is doing to our reputation. I will be a Madridista till the day that I die and I will defend Real forever, but I feel like Mou might be doing more harm than good.

    Again, I dont want to upset Mou supporters, these are just my feelings that I have been holding in for quite some time. HALA MADRID!

  14. September 21, 2011 18:41

    “Meanwhile, there is a lot of talk going on about what Sami Khedira supposedly felt after the game, a “rebel group” within the team, reactions to Mou’s words from the press conference after the Levante game… do you all want me to address these things”

    I’d love to hear them, even if it’s just stupid rumours. If you don’t want to go through the trouble of translating or have the time just pointing me in the direction of the spanish articles is fine 🙂

    Great round-up post as usual, of course. It’s a shame those three Spaniards don’t seem to be in Mou’s plans, I was hoping that with “Concentrao” and Pepe out that we might see a bit more of Albiol…

    And I’m so tired of di Maria and his play acting!!

  15. noim303 permalink
    September 21, 2011 19:34

    I haven’t read all the comments but I see some of you are concerned about this issue with Sami…
    Since I see all this stuff on twitter and in newspapers I just wanted to explain that as far as I know the journalist who started all this crap and its main defender (although not the only one) is the one and only Diego Torres, the biggest liar and anti-madridista that exists.
    I’m not inventing this, if you read any of his articles you’ll see that what he writes is totally made up. There’s a hilarious one about Mou crying in the final de la Copa del Rey because he didn’t feel supported by his players, who later happened to win and throw him in the air (sorry, don’t know the expression in English, in Spanish is ‘mantear’).
    Even our presi Florentino mentioned his bad articles some days ago in the Asamblea General (I think).
    So, the thing is that the majority of the madridistas here in Spain (at least on twitter and on several blogs) don’t believe anything of this sort anymore, especially if it comes from that guy. And with respect to this issue with Sami, more of the same, nobody here believes it and there is no proof a part from what the press says (and I’m inclined to think that Sami likes Madrid as much as before).
    Hope this cleared a bit this issue, but let’s wait to see what Una thinks of this because this was just my opinion! I hope it doesn’t bother you that I explained this a bit, Una! If it does, sorry!

  16. Pammie permalink
    September 21, 2011 23:05

    I wanna know more about the rebel group thing, since I only saw this
    Which papers/ TV programs are discussing it apart from cuatro? Where did the rumour start?
    Are there rumours about the “rebel group” boycotting Mou by putting on bad games like the last two on purpose?

    I hope Mou only left out Chori and Callejon because he didn’t want to list all Spanish players and not because he’s not really considering them anymore. Callejon starting today seems to point at the first explanation.

    I think the players need to stay calm even when being provoked to prevent situations like the Levante game, but on the other hand Sami tried to help di Maria, while the guy he pushed all too willing fell. So it’ll always be hard.
    Fouling other players out of frustration certainly is not the way to go and anger management courses come to mind 😛 When they lose their head like this, it also shows that they might not be playing with the best concentration, so staying focused should be worked on.

  17. black widow permalink
    September 22, 2011 05:00

    yes, please, una, i’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

    i think tactically, mou is brilliant. he’s got the stats and records and trophies to back that up. but jesus … some of the things he says and does leave me biting my tongue in frustration. he’s done a lot of good since he took over, but there’s no denying there’s been more drama, more aggression, more red cards and sanctions and negative press, which all flies in the face of the madridismo this club takes such pride in.

    i don’t like that granero is shaping up to be this year’s peter lion. 😦 and i don’t like that albiol is benched so much, either. doesn’t mou get that if he benches albiol (or, god forbid, trades him), arbeloa’s performance will automatically suffer?! (i’m only partly kidding.)

    and finally … iker’s latest photoshoot (oh, come on, i couldn’t do a post without mentioning my boy in some way, shape or form, could i?) leaves me all conflicted. on the one hand, it’s iker. ’nuff said. on the other hand … the overt makeup (he looks like he’s wearing frosted fuchsia lipstick in some of the shots, for crying out loud!), the HAIR (oh my god, the hair … i just … i can’t … i actually prefer him balding), the posing and (some of) the clothes … i want to love it because it’s him, but other than the one shot where he’s sitting on the floor with his knees up and his hands fisted with the white tank top on, let’s just say they’re not the best shots i’ve seen of him. (but i still would, that goes without saying.)

    and finally … *deep breath* … if it were up to me, we’d trade di maria as soon as we possibly could, and possibly put pepe on notice. there, i said it.

  18. September 22, 2011 07:44

    I love the photo Iker took! Even from the back Xabi looks perfect. 😀

    And that’s all I’m going to focus on. I really hope all this doesn’t distract them from the Racing match. HALA MADRID!

  19. Thea Warren permalink
    September 22, 2011 13:49

    Breakthrough Breast Cancer are delighted to present Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction, in partnership with the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. Sir Alex Ferguson, Fabio Capello and Andre Villas-Boas are just some of the football stars who have already shown their support by donating prizes for our fabulous auction, to be held online from the 8th – 23rd October.

    We thought you might be interested to know that Jose Mourihno has also donated his FIFA Ballon D’Or, the prize which he won in 2010 in recognition of his coaching achievements. Mourinho was given his first coaching job by Sir Bobby and is eager to support the charities’ efforts.

    Please take a look at for a full list of prizes, and do get in touch with me if you’d like more information.

    All the best
    Thea at Breakthrough Breast Cancer

  20. Diana permalink
    September 22, 2011 17:09

    Wow, with school now, I am so out of the loop lately. I knew Albiol was out of favor, but I honestly had no idea about Granero and Callejon. I just remembered Esteban being injured and from there I don’t remember ever hearing anything about him. Hmmm, I wonder what happened…

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