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ICYMI – the not an easy party edition

September 23, 2011

In case you missed it – Racing vs. Real Madrid [2011-09-21, Liga jornada 5, 0-0].

As Iker said, a party will not be easy.  Who knew that it would also be this ugly and this frustrating.  Many people are saying that parts of this game were some of the worst football Real Madrid has played in a long time.  Tiene razón.  And I’m tired of always hearing excuses for the bad play, always hearing that it’s the referees’ fault.  Enough with that complaining, can’t we just focus on football, and preserve our dignity at the same time?

With that said, there were some good moments (admittedly, most of them did not take place during the actual game…), so don’t be put off by how this post started, because it does get better.  Too bad I can’t say the same about the game…

ONE.  Let’s get all the horrible things over with first.  With the entire team there in Santander, the palco where the injured and those players who didn’t make the game day cut sat was full: Pepe, Coentrão, Sahin, Khedira, Altintop, Mejías.  The rest were on the bench, and both groups lived the game intensely, though ultimately they ended frustrated.

TWO.  This start, with only seven points earned out of a possible 12 (in four games), is the worst since the 2005-06 season, when Vanderlei Luxemburgo and his unforgettable “cuadrado mágico” were on the bench.  In that season, at this point, Madrid had only accumulated six points.  Madrid scored 10 goals in the first two games and none in the last two.

THREE.  Cris’ pout, and Iker’s frustrated face.

FOUR.  The Racing defense that so frustrated (notice a theme?) Madrid was made up of the following four players: Cristian Sánchez, with all of 57 games played in the first division; Álvaro, who was just promoted from Racing B this season; Bernardo, who has one game of experience in the first division under his belt; and Francis, the most veteran one, though the majority of his career was spent in the second division with Xerez.

FIVE.  The most memorable contribution from Benzema in the game: running into and bouncing off an opponent.  As he landed on his back and he kicked his legs in the air, he reminded me of a cockroach – not in the gross insect sense, but that Ronaldo/Roberto Carlos/Robinho goal celebration.  And the resulting camera angle was pretty nice.

SIX.  Probably more of Mou than you’ve ever wanted to see before.

SEVEN.  More frustrated faces, this time on the bench.  Esteban needs a haircut.

EIGHT.  Now, onto the better stuff.  Xabi dancing.  Is there anything he can’t do?  I also quite like the black tops and white shorts combination.

NINE.  One of the few bright notes of the game was Rafa Varane, who played some steady football back there.  He further endeared himself to me by removing his shirt after the game.  Good habits start young.

TEN.  Inside the palco, Fábio wore The UCLA Hat, while Sami Khedira was unable to keep his eyes of his mobile.  And Fábio, Hamit and Nuri also shared some food!

ELEVEN.  Remember how I said that the good moments didn’t happen during the actual game?  That’s because the best moments came prior to the game.  The winner of the Vuelta a España race, Juanjo Cobo, who is from Cantabria, did the ceremonial kick-off before the game (he kicked the ball to Iker).  Prior to that, both teams had given him an honor guard as he walked onto the field.  Cris went from asking Xabi who this guy was (and of course, Xabi is the right person to ask, and I like how he gestured to explain) to telling Marcelo that he was going to say hi (Marcelo’s all like, yeah, you go on ahead, Crís) to going up to Juanjo and shaking his hand.  This is the real Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sergio Ramos and Raúl Albiol also stood up to clap, while Iker also shook El Bisonte de La Pesa’s hand.

TWELVE.  Continuing on with pre-game scenes, we had Esteban Granero going over to hug our former canterano (and Míchel’s son), the gorgeous Adrián (I was looking forward to seeing him, and happy he got into the game), while Cristiano Ronaldo practiced some espaldinhas.

THIRTEEN.  And these following moments are without a doubt the highlights of the day in Santander.  While waiting around for the game to start, many of the players read the game program provided by Racing (or actually, looked at the pictures, since Lass, Sami, Hamit and Nuri all have limited Spanish knowledge, though I expect Sami to make real advances this year).  Nuri saw something he thought was funny – that Pepe’s real name is “Képler.”  He pointed that out to Altintop, then proceeded to show Pepe, who smiled, confirmed it and explained, “my father is the one who gave me that name…”

Sami Khedira proceeded to tease Pepe, so Pepe teased him right back.  Meanwhile, Fábio chimed in with “Pepitoooooooo…”

Later on, Pepe decided to nuzzle Altintop – adorable!!  (Hopefully he didn’t get any beard burn…)  On the other side of the bench, it took just one look at El Chori to make Sergio crack up.  I love these boys!  And don’t these types of moments make you feel just a bit better?

FOURTEEN.  The Xabi Alonso pose section.™

I’m suddenly desiring a Xabi sandwich.

FIFTEEN.  Post-game declarations.

After the game, Iker told Canal+, “when you lose two consecutive away games against rivals that, with all due respect, aren’t competing for the same objectives as us… there’s nothing else to do but accept it, lift up your head and think about the next game.  The image we gave is not correct, it’s not worthy of Real Madrid.  We can’t allow ourselves the luxury of losing points.”  Iker was also asked about Mou blaming Khedira for the previous loss.  His response: “you have to understand, the míster has his temperament.  People speculate and talk about it, but those of us who are on the inside know what the míster is like and he didn’t single out any players.”  In the mixed zone, he said, “it’s unexplainable how a team like us with the players that we have are not able to take advantage of the opportunities we have, and we didn’t even have any in this game.”

Álvaro Arbeloa also affirmed that there are no problems with Mou and that they are all “more united than ever.”  He explained, “many times we don’t understand the things that are said.  There are sectors of the press that want to destabilize us.  We are more united than ever with the coach.  That’s why I want to deny all this information.”  Xabi echoed this, saying, “we’re a united group, and we have to fight together because we can’t be divided.”  He also said, “we can’t deny the evidence, the dynamics are not good and we have to change that as soon as possible.”

SIXTEEN.  The Mou corner.  His expressions and gestures during the game say it all, no?  It’s also the same as my reactions when I heard his post-game press conference, and realized he was once again blaming things on the refereeing.

Mou said after the game that this loss was different than the one to Levante, because “we were the only team that tried to win,” so he wasn’t as worried.  However, he was preoccupied with how Madrid has dropped five points in these two away games, and blamed the lack of rhythm in this game on both the lack of necessary dynamics, which has become “habitual,” and also “the injuries, that stretcher coming out for the injured, the simulations, with everything they were allowed to do… we were incapable of changing this and so we are also responsible.”

SEVENTEEN.  Other notes.

– Ricardo Carvalho suffered head trauma during the game, after his head collided with one of Racing’s players near the end of the game.  Once the team returned to Madrid, he was taken to the Sanitas-La Moraleja hospital, where he underwent some tests.  They showed that there was nothing serious, so he was released, though he will be under observation.

– Madrid returned to training on Thursday morning to start preparing for Saturday’s game against Rayo.  Ricardo Carvalho was absent, due to his head trauma, as were Pepe, Coentrão and Sahin, due to their respective injuries (they did their own recovery work).  The rest of the first team players were joined by canteranos MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín, Nacho and Tomás Mejías.  Yay, Cris is back to the old Hollywood hairstyle!

The Xabi Alonso pose section™, training special.

– speaking of Rayo, they just played Levante on Wednesday, and after the game, their coach José Ramón Sandoval spoke about the expulsion of one of his players, which he believed was unjust: “four days ago, there was a Real Madrid-Levante game and we all saw the theater put on by some players.  We also saw the provocations in that game, it’s a mistake to come to Vallecas and repeat the same type of refereeing.”  As I said, I’m tired about hearing about the refereeing, but it’s good to see that we’re not just being paranoid, as some would like others to believe.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    September 23, 2011 11:40

    I actually think referees level in Liga in general is honestly not that good, too many mistakes in alot of games,no?…

    Anyway, I demand the club to pay us fans some money for the torture they subjected us to, I can’t remember one decent football played in the game, BUT iker save! That’s it..Again, it surely cant get any worse than this one..it surely can’t..can we stop with the referee thing, can we? CAN WE!

    I hope people appreicate this Cris, the guy who actually went to shake a hand with a fellow sportman who doesnt even know to show him appreication. How cute he is asking Marcelo for a presmission
    I think players on the bench thought ” Oh well, we surely picked the best game to be benched in”…since they are having so much fun, I am happy to see Nuri, Altintop is being close to players already..Pepe is so adorable..

    • Jenny permalink
      September 24, 2011 00:00

      Spanish refereeing is famously bad actually. Too much start-stop-start-stop and too much flopping and time-wasting is tolerated. As someone who has played in more rational leagues (when it comes to refereeing) like Italy and Spain, it is no wonder Mourinho finds it so bewildering. Especially when the time-wasting is so painfully obvious.

      The players should take the women who play in the German league (the one I follow) as their example. Practically no diving at all! Women are tougher of course, but I’m sure the guys can make more of an effort to measure up.

      The whistle would be blown half as much in an English game even for men 😉

  2. @ulonghaz permalink
    September 23, 2011 12:36

    And don’t these types of moments make you feel just a bit better?

    my answer : YES, Una. your post make me feel a lot (LOTS) better

  3. manie permalink
    September 23, 2011 13:29

    Your post made me feel better about the loss. I mean, it’s still lost points, but after hearing all these ridiculous stories about how the team is fighting/divided/etc, this was really nice to see. Hopefully, Rayo doesn’t hate us any more than they already do after the match this weekend. I’m expecting a top performance. Hala Madrid!!

  4. Vitaliy permalink
    September 23, 2011 13:44

    Talking about being paranoid.
    It is widely known that the president of the Spanish football federation, senor Villar, is a patron of one Catalonian football club and that indeed there exists a group of referees who, let’s say, follow the guidelines of the ruling party. In Spain it’s called “villarato”. An article written by the main editor of “As” – http://blogs.as.com/me-gusta-el-futbol/2011/05/teor%C3%ADa-general-del-villarato.html
    What’s more interesting (and less known) is that the named Villar also occupies quite a few of key positions in UEFA: Tercer vicepresidente del Comité Ejecutivo; Presidente del Comité de Árbitros; Presidente Adjunto del Comité Jurídico y de Disciplina; Representante del Comité Ejecutivo del Consejo de Estrategia del Fútbol Profesiona.
    And as it wasn’t enough, in UEFA there employed two of the past presidents of one Catalonian football club, senors Laporta and Gaspart.
    http://blogs.as.com/tomas_roncero/2011/05/la-uefa-lo-tiene-muy-bien-montado.html

    So, well, perhaps Mou indeed ‘overrecats’ at times, but, let’s say, he has some good reasons for that.

  5. Gabriela permalink
    September 23, 2011 14:35

    Mourinho is acting like a whiny kid lately, it makes me embarassed.

  6. mar permalink
    September 23, 2011 14:43

    that was an ugly game…but thnx for the pregame moments , were adorrable!

  7. kiki permalink
    September 23, 2011 15:11

    Oh Una…..thank you for all the cuteness & extra Xabi you’ve posted, it does help, because I feel ill from this. What happened to my Real Madrid? Especially after our beginning form against Barca, which was looking ace.

    I think we are all sick of the comments, but I think we also see the ineptitude of officials in all competitions. There is a refusal to modernize the game. If they modernized the game that would certainly make it harder for the betting cabals to make their profits! It is good to see Sandoval’s comments, however. As much as we don’t like to hear excuses we do see the evidence.

    We did start with a free-er flowing game this season (as needed & requested by fans) & thus may be more vulnerable to these tactics(hopefully temporarily).. We are currently straining in the true midfield area due to injuries. There has been no chance to form partnerships. We have seen nothing from new signings. Mou did what he had to with Coentrao, who is talented enough to make impact out of position, but it is not ideal. The Ideal Man, Xabi, is carrying a very heavy load but partnerships have not been settled there to this date. Poor man has to dance with a different partner every dance and is somehow expected to get 1st place in the midfield dance-off competition! Consentrao is a monster of a player and his efforts are appreciated, but it is not his natural position. (oops he’s injured too..thus more midfield juggling). This area is the engine, we can’t run properly without it.

    It is worrisome seeing Ricki C.’s face as he lay there, seeming unconscious. 😦
    I just hope we can stop this slipping right now…I just…I can’t…….

    Thank you as always. I don’t always comment, but I’m always watching and you do a magnificent job bringing us so much wonderful info, humor and adorable pics. MUAH!

  8. September 23, 2011 16:02

    That game was painful to watch. 😦 The passing, which is usually so spot on has been off the past couple games it seems. The guys seemed to be just as frustrated as we were. Let’s hope that was the last of that kind of game.

    I’m glad Carvalho is alright. He didn’t look so good after that collision. Felt bad for Benz too. One of his teammates should have warned him. 😦

    Thank you for cheering me up with the other pictures, Una. I especially love seeing the guys on the bench react. How can you not love this team?!

    In the picture on the right of Iker in the goal, he reminds me of the guy at the airport who directs the planes into the gates. lol

    I’m with you on the excuses, Una. It’s starting to get old. Levante didn’t do anything different than what any other team would have done in that situation. The good teams find a way to win in spite of the refs, “the simulations, with everything they were allowed to do”, etc.

    Now to get back on our winning ways!

  9. Jenny permalink
    September 23, 2011 16:13

    Altintop, Pepe and Sahin = love.

    Altintop is a lovable personality, I am sure the Madridismo will adore him once they get to know him.

  10. yas permalink
    September 23, 2011 16:27

    first off I love, love, love your blog, you do a truly fantastic job!
    I agree that they really have to stop looking for something/someone to blame and just really concentrate on playing to their best abilities. We, the fans, know they are more then capable of being number one, of winning, and of playing exceptional football, as was witnessed in the pre-season and the supercopa (minus any fighting that took place).
    On a lighter note I LOVE the pre-game notes you always post, it really does make everything seem a little better, because beyond the fact that they lose, at the end of the day the players and how they get along is one of the reason’s you love the team.

    Oh, and I couldn’t be happier that ronaldo is back with the old hollywood hair-do, it suits him so much better then the fohawk (which makes him look like a rooster…)

  11. emily permalink
    September 23, 2011 16:58

    Thanks for the thoughtful post, Una. This has been a terrible week for the guys, and it started in Zagreb, really. Now, where it ends and to what result, we really don’t know, do we?
    Incidently, on this side of the pond, we don’t have all of the access to real info and rumor about the team that you do over there. We only have commentators to give us their impressions of the situation. One of those commentators, Ray Hudson, was interviewed on the radio this morning and he has high hopes, still, for Madrid, but he spoke about being very worried about divisions within the team and the finger pointing (at Khedira, mainly) from Mou. I like to take an approach more on the side of ‘let’s just see how things go, and this is just one guy’s opinion’
    What do you make of all this and how can we move past it?
    Also, completely off topic: I watched a press conference from Rugby World Cup that included a player from the English side being hounded by a member of the British press about feeling contrition for having been photographed out drinking the night before the team lost badly during the competition. The reporter kept asking the player why he wouldn’t admit fault and asking the player “why can’t we move on from this?” the player just skipped over the obvious baiting by the pressman. All I could imagine the guy was feeling was “Hey press man, Why don’t YOU just move on???!!!” And this is how I feel about all of the scandal being levied at RM and the Spanish NT. MOVE ON!!!!!!!!!!!! GET OVER IT!!!!!!! STOP WITH THE POLEMICA!!! TOMA!!! TOMA!!!! HALA MADRID HALA MADRID HALA MADRID HALA MADRID HALA MADRID!!!! GUTIIIIIIIIIIIII!!!!!!!

  12. emily permalink
    September 23, 2011 17:21

    For the fans making commentary about the poor passing – part of the problem is this… The opposing teams are sending all their men into the defensive end, this closes up the passing lanes. That’s why our players aren’t able to thread together passes well. The hope from the other team is to bust out and score on counter attack, with the long hopeful ball, rather than sustained forward movement, which opens up the field. When you couple a defensive style with hard, thin-line-between-free kick-and-red-card tackling, add in a total disregard for safety and the (apparent) intent to disable, then you have a definite disruption in the forward ranks of RM. Madrid like to play open, passing, forward, scoring football, Not counterattack. Now, Mou should be enough of a tactician to formulate a way to move past the crap and score, but it’s certainly difficult to work around when your guys are tripping over 21 men in the box.

  13. September 23, 2011 17:32

    Nuri’s smile cracks me up he is like a little kid saying ” dude your name is Kepler ? hahaha ” i love them

  14. Alyssa permalink
    September 23, 2011 18:24

    About the football, I have little more to say than, well, we suck. And I’m scared of how long this sucking is going to continue. I do think though that we played the last 15 minutes of this game incredibly well. The pace picked up and the players were connecting better but sadly, 15 minutes of playing well isn’t enough to win a match. I also think that it had a lot to do with Kaká. Aside from his pretty bad miss, he played incredibly well! And that’s the ONE thing about this match that makes me happy.

    “This is the real Cristiano Ronaldo.” I know that and you know that and I’m guessing most of the people who read this blog know that but WHY are the media and the general public totally blind to it??? It’s infuriating how everyone thinks he’s a terrible human being even though they don’t even have legitimate reasons for it. I will defend Cris til the end, I just wish I didn’t have to as much.

    Hahaha Sahin is too cute. I found it funny when I first learned that Pepe’s real name is Kepler too. In fact, I find it funny every time it’s brought up haha. All I can think of are Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion (yes, I’m a dork haha).

  15. pammie permalink
    September 23, 2011 22:17

    It’s amazing how Pepe’s taking care of the new guys despite the language differences. Thanks for finding some good things in this mess of a game.
    I’m also tired of the ref blaming, even if Mou does have a point at times, it’s getting old and a too generic excuse.

  16. Jimena permalink
    September 24, 2011 05:11

    I don’t think complaining about the refereeing means losing dignity, when the complaints are justified. We’ve been suffering from bad refereeing for some years now; and it’s not the typical “sometimes they give, sometimes they take” issue; this is not just a coincidence. Every match there’s different rules for our players. Besides, it’s not like that’s the only thing Mou talks about. If you guys are going to read what Marca and As (not to even mention Sport and Mundo Deportivo) publish you’re going to be manipulated constantly. We’ve been playing terribly: true. The refereeing has been terrible: true too. It’s only fair to defend what we think is right. I sugest a website called soymadridista.com (it’s all in spanish, sorry). You’ll get information about how corrupt La Liga is, but mostly you’ll better information than As or Marca could give. This said, I think this is a great blog and I thank you for your hard work day after day.

  17. Meera permalink
    September 24, 2011 10:26

    Villarato! Refereerato! Dopingato! UEFArato! UNICEFATO!..

    Mourinho’s Madrid is more like Whinging MoaningHo’s Madrid. What a fall from “senorio” to “whingism”.

    Is it any wonder that Real Madrid is seen as the Evil Empire today?

    • emily permalink
      September 25, 2011 17:27

      whinging? what’s whinging? Perhaps you intend to say whining…? Like the sound a two year old makes when it doesn’t get it’s way.
      I don’t see rM as an Evil empire.

  18. September 25, 2011 18:59

    I couldn’t bring myself to even read anything about this match till now. I was just so sad after it was over.

    I also HATED what Mou did. Blaming a player and throwing him under the wheels is just unjust. And that’s what came out of the whole press conference, no matter what Mou claims to have said.

    I support Mou. He’s our coach. I trust him. It’s just that I also feel like clobbering him right now. This is not Real Madrid. He’s not taking us the right way. And I say this after yesterday’s win against Rayo. I want things to improve, and go back to when it was just about football and nothing else. Mou’s stupid blame game needs to stop now.

  19. Barbara permalink
    September 26, 2011 19:43

    Has anyone noticed that Sami is wearing a ring on left hand?

  20. September 26, 2011 23:40

    How come Sergio Ramos didn’t play?

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