all set for Espanyol!
The team has held its last training session, Mou has spoken to the press, the players are already in Barcelona and Joselu and Fernando are excited! Everything is set for tonight’s game against our friendly rival Espanyol (22h) at the Cornellà-El Prat.
On Saturday afternoon, the players trained for the last time before flying to Barcelona. José Mourinho had at his orders 18 players from the first team, plus Joselu from Castilla and Fernando Pacheco from RMC, who would both make the call-up later. Ángel di María, who is out for this game after receiving a red card in the last Liga game against Rayo, was absent, as he had permission from the club to travel to Argentina, as he has to join his national team there in a few days anyway. The four injured players – Benzema, Sahin, Pepe and Coentrão – were also absent. And of course, Sergio was showing off that body, there was joking around, and Marcelo was spreading sunshine.
As for the convocatoria, only one player from the training session did not make it – Ricardo Carvalho, who has back problems. Marcelo, meanwhile, has returned after missing out on the last game against Ajax due to suspension. I feel bad for
Pacheco whoever is left off the list come game day, as he will not have any company in the stands.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Pacheco.
Defenders: Ramos, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Varane, Albiol.
Midfielders: Özil, Xabi Alonso, Callejón, Khedira, Lass, Kaká, Granero, Altintop.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Joselu.
In his press conference prior to the training session, Mou said the following:
on Kaká: one month ago, Kaká was a disaster and now this week he’s once again the best player in the world; I don’t like either thing. He’s a fantastic player, but a lot has happened, there was a difficult moment in which he practically didn’t start any games, and from there he went on to play two or three in a row. We have to treat this situation with tranquility because we want him at his best, we don’t want him to suffer any setbacks and it’s important that he’s playing well, that he’s out there healthy, strong and happy.
on social networks: there are things that you can’t change. Times change and social networks are part of the life of many people, not me, but of many people and also the players. It’s not bad that Sergio or Iker, I don’t know who it was, posted something where they were joking about the training session, it’s not bad at all. In our world, there is space to joke around. At least Sergio didn’t say how much money Iker lost to Arbeloa. What Granero did [with his Alice in Wonderland quotes] is simply the reflections of a studious and intelligent boy, and people should know that there are players like him who read, who study, who think. It’s good.
[I love that description of Granero!]
on the barbecue: the idea wasn’t mine. We were to train in the morning and afternoon and I thought they had done very well in the morning session. Someone who works close to me commented to me that instead of eating as we always do, why don’t we do something different and eat on the terrace. I thought it was a good idea.
Mou also said “Real Madrid could have a better coach than Mourinho [yes, in the third person], better players than it has now, even though the ones now are very good, but it can’t have a better president than Florentino.” FP must be crying after hearing that.
The team flew to Barcelona late in the afternoon. Iker posted this photo of his teammates on the bus, and the world is really their runway, isn’t it?
While Marcelo and Mesut signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans at the team’s normal meet and greet session…
… Cristiano Ronaldo received an award from the association of peñas of Cataluña as the best Madrid player from last season (he was chosen via a vote). Cris said, “I’m proud to receive this award, it’s an honor.” He also signed autographs and posed for pictures. In the presence of one very young fan, his paternal instincts came through.
According to AS, Cris is the player who has received the most fouls in the Liga up to this jornada. He’s received 15 fouls in the five games he’s played so far, the same number as Iker Muniain and Javi Martínez (!!!) (yes, I confess, I included this bit of news just so I could mention Javi (!!!)). However, Cris receives a foul every 28 minutes, while Iker’s average is 29 and Javi’s (!!!) 31. Di María is also in the top 20, with 11 fouls suffered. By the way, Leo Messi is in 56th place, as he’s only received seven fouls. Overall, Madrid is ranked fourth in terms of fouls suffered (84); our rival tonight Espanyol is in first place (the second and third places are held by Athletic and Málaga, respectively).
I hope Javitxu (!!!) is ok!!!
Looking ahead to the game, Kiko Casilla, a former canterano, will be on the opposite bench (with the success of our cantera and the direct doors to the first team open only to a select one, Iker, we face former canteranos all the time). Kiko joined Madrid at the age of 14, and spent seven years in the cantera. He left because there was too much competition in the goalkeeping position and he wanted to continue his development. Defensa Central interviewed him and this is what he had to say about his past. He also said he’s excited about this game because it’s the first time that he’s facing Madrid since he left, and he’s also looking forward to “seeing old friends.”
on his time with Madrid: I arrived when I was 14, and I left when I was 21. I spent many years there, it’s where I grew up first as a person and later on as a footballer. I have many memories and I’m very grateful to the club because without them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve always said that Iker is for me, including before I came to Real Madrid, my reference.
on leaving Madrid: I had two years left on my contract, but I was not playing with Castilla, so when I received an offer, I decided to leave after thinking it over.
on the club: it’s true that no other club can compare with Real Madrid, especially for what it signifies, for its history and for everything. I haven’t seen any other club like this one.
Speaking of Castilla, they are also playing tonight at 17h against La Roda in La Roda (Albacete). Alberto Toril will be without Joselu, as he’s on duty with the first team, but he’s got Tomás Mejías back. Meanwhile, Jesús has recovered completely from the neck injury he suffered against Montañeros, and so he was called up as well. Merchán received his first call-up, while Isaac, Raúl Ruiz, Mandi, Martínez and Iván González were left off the list due to the coach’s decision. And I’m so sad this moment wasn’t captured. Álex tweeted, “we finished the training session and I’m the locker room with Denis and he’s dancing!”
And around the Liga, it was a good day for former madridistas. Sergio Canales scored the only goal (a golazo) in the game to give Valencia a 1-0 win over Granada (Roberto Soldado also played the entire game for the home team, and Fran Rico for the visitors). The last time Sergio scored (April 2010) was when he still played for Racing, as he didn’t score any goals with Madrid. Meanwhile, Adrián scored one goal to give his team one point as Racing tied Rayo 1-1. And in Málaga’s 3-2 win over Getafe, Peter Lion kicked things off with a golazo, Ruud van Nistelrooy chipped in a goal and Julio Baptista scored the game winning goal (again, a golazo and a chilena; poor Jordi Codina) in injury time for Manuel Pellegrini’s team. Peter Lion’s last Liga goal was also against Málaga, on May 8, 2010 when he still played for Getafe (the first time around). I’m so happy for all of them! Watching Ruud’s celebration made me nostalgic because he used to celebrate in that way with us. And I love Getafe’s pink shirts!
I also love how the friendships between our former players are still going strong. David Mateos tweeted, “Golazoooooo de canaless,” while Sergio himself congratulated Peter Lion for his goal, saying “you deserve it” (I imagine they have had many conversations together in the stands while playing for Real Madrid).