Post slightly updated with more from Iker and Sergio…
On Wednesday, due to the national holiday (Spain’s national day, Armed Forces Day, Día de la Hispanidad, Día de Nuestra Señora del Pilar), Valdebebas opened its doors to all socios for Madrid’s afternoon training session.
The majority of the international players were back: Iker, Sergio, Arbeloaman, Xabi, the German duo, Altintop. Cristiano and Raúl Albiol were also back, but they returned injured, so they didn’t come out onto the field. Also not seen was Rafa Varane (who wasn’t at Valdebebas), and the injured Ricardo Carvalho. Meanwhile, Ángel, Gonzalo and Marcelo were on their way back to Spain after playing for their national teams. Also present at the session were canteranos Jesús, Nacho, Álex, Carvajal, Omar, Jesé, MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín and Jorge Casado.
The good news came in the form of Xabi Alonso, who seems to have recovered favorably from that brutal tackle suffered in the game against the Czech Republic, and in Nuri Sahin and Karim Benzema. The two of them were also out on the field running laps and doing exercises with Carlos Lalín (prompting some fans to say, is that the real Sahin?). They also continued training after the entire team had completed their session. Kaká, Granero, Callejón and Adán were also seen out on the fields after the session, but that’s because they were participating in a football clinic for children.
At the end of the session, the boys signed autographs for the fans, and some even stripped, though not all, unfortunately. Bonus points for Esteban and José.
And as always, it was the littlest fans/socios who had the most fun. It’s always good to instill el madridismo at an early age.
Twitter brought us these gems yesterday. First, Álvaro Arbeloa alerted us that Sergio was going to tweet something. Then Sergio came out with this photo of El Chori, writing, “it’s been confirmed that J. Frazier won’t be fighting M. Ali, in his place we have Hurricane Albiol, fighting for the title.” I love it! Álvaro needs to have a shirt of Raúl Albiol just like he has one of Muhammad Ali! I bet Álvaro and Sergio totally made El Chori pose like this, bringing him a towel to create more authenticity, while Xabi watched them and shook his head.
Then there was this exchange between Nuri Sahin and Arbeloa. First, Nuri tweeted, “What is the Problem with blackberry???” That got this response from Álvaro: “Ha ha ha!!!” Poor Nuri didn’t seem pleased, replying, “i am Not updated my friend” (why does he capitalize random words?). This prompted Alvarito to backtrack a little and tweet back, “Ha ha! It’s fine, I was just kidding.” Users in Spain have had trouble messaging, receiving email and accessing the Internet for the past several days, along with users all around the world now. It’s a good thing that Álvaro no longer has his Blackberry then! And how classy of Esteban to congratulate Chendo for his 50 years of madridismo (Oct. 12 was Chendo’s 50th birthday).
More examples of our players getting along. On Tuesday, Ricardo Carvalho, Pepe, Callejón and Antonio Adán had lunch together at Mesón Txistu, in one of those “hunting” lunches started by Raúl to share the spoils of his hunt. Pepe is also a big fan of this sport, and with the hunting season having ended last weekend, he brought rabbits and partridges to the restaurant to cook. Miguel Torres also joined them, as he has done regularly since his time as a Madrid player.
On Thursday, Iker attended the presentation of the fifth BBVA charity run, in his capacity as ambassador of BBVA and the United Nations. The funds raised from this event will go to displaced and refugees Somalians in the horn of Africa. Iker said at the event, “the previous editions allowed thousands of people in Kenya and Colombia to receive humanitarian aid. We, who are privileged, are the first ones that cannot forget others who don’t have our possibilities or conditions in life. Helping those who most need it, in this case the displaced people in the horn of Africa, is the obligation for everyone.” The race will take place in Madrid on Nov. 6, and 12,000 people will take part.
Sergio spoke to Liga BBVA during the concentración of La Roja. Highlights include our segundo capitán talking about how he gave his first salary as a Sevilla B player to his grandmother, though it wasn’t very much, and how it went towards a new bathroom and kitchen; that he considers himself a religious person and a believer (he shows his tattoo of the Virgin and Jesus Christ, saying it’s of the Virgen del Rocío and the Cristo de Cachorro, from Sevilla); and that the last tattoo he’s gotten is a phrase from Nelson Mandela (the English one on his ribs).
International results from Tuesday: Spain beat Scotland 3-1, with Sergio Ramos playing the entire game and Álvaro Arbeloa playing one half. Iker was on the bench, and Xabi watched the game from the stands. Sami and Mesut’s Germany beat Belgium 3-1, with Mesut scoring a golazo off a pass from Sami. Both Spain and Germany had already qualified for the Euro before these two games.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored a golazo as Portugal went down 2-1 to Denmark, meaning that if they want to play in next year’s Euro, they’ll have to win their playoff series on Nov. 11 and 15. The same fate befell Turkey, despite their 1-0 victory over Azerbaijan, with Hamit Altintop starting the win. Rafa Varane played the entire game as France’s U-21 team beat Romania 2-0 in Euro 2013 qualifying. Marcelo also scored as Brazil beat Mexico in a friendly 2-1, while Gonzalo, Ángel and Argentina fell to Venezuela 0-1 in 2014 World Cup qualifying. Plus, it looks like Mou has another solution if Iker gets sent off in a game.
Another example of how UEFA works: as we all know, Álex Fernández was one of the best players in this summer’s U-19 Euro in Romania, which Spain ended up winning. In fact, he was so good that he ended as the tournament’s “Golden Player,” although no one bothered to inform him of that fact. Two and a half months after the tournament ended, Álex found out that he had been named as the Euro’s best player via MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín. ABMM saw on UEFA’s web site that Álex had won the Golden Player award, and so he informed him of that fact. No one had known – not Álex himself, not the RFEF, not Real Madrid. UEFA had only announced who had won the Golden Boot, which had gone to ABMM, as well as the ideal starting XI (Álex and ABMM both made that). In addition, the Golden Player announcement was only on the English version of the web site. Previous winners include our former canteranos Juanfran and Alberto Bueno.
In an interview with Madrid’s web site, Joselu had the following to say:
You’ve been a total madridista since you were small… my hometown is small and the people are either for Barcelona or Madrid. My mother had a bar and people would come there to watch games. My sister has always supported Barcelona and I’ve always supported Madrid, and she always made my cry when I was small. I’ve always been very madridista and I’m very proud to be so.
I imagine it was an unforgettable and special experience for you to be part of the first team’s pre-season in the U.S. What was it like? I was at home with my parents when Chendo called me, to tell me that I was going to travel to Los Angeles. I had done well last season, but Castilla has many good players and so I didn’t expect this. The experience of being there with the greatest players and enjoying almost 20 days with them was unsurpassable. The atmosphere and the people that Madrid attracts are unique.
What is your dream for this season? As the forward that I am, what I want most is to help my team finish at the top to qualify for the playoffs, and to continue scoring the maximum number of goals possible to surpass last year’s tally. But above all, to ascend to the second division.
A while back, it was announced that Vicente del Bosque, Rafa Nadal and Plácido Domingo would be named socios de honor, receiving a gold insignia. This is an honor that only a very select crowd of apparently only presidents has been regaled with: Alfredo di Stéfano, Joseph Blatter (FIFA president), Durao Barroso (president of the EC), Felipe Calderón (president of Mexico), Juan Antonio Samaranch (ex-president of the IOC). This is the highest honor the club gives out. Recently, there has been talk that VDB is considering not attending the presentation ceremony, whose date is still unknown (it was scheduled for Nov. 3). It’s been said that he’s not happy that Madrid is not also recognizing his longtime assistants, Toni Grande, Javi Miñano and Paco Jiménez, which would make sense if Madrid was honoring him for his time as a coach, because these three men were with him on the bench in Madrid and right now with the national team. In addition, he believes that the tribute is more a result of pressure than a real gesture, as many other clubs (including Atlético and Barcelona) with whom he has no connection to has honored him, while the club which he dedicated 30-plus years of his life has done nothing. VDB has nothing against the club, and will accompany his son Vicente next year when the latter receives the silver insignia as recognition for his 25 years as a socio.
In an interview with COPE yesterday, his assistant coach (and our former assistant coach as well) Toni Grande said that he believes the tribute is a bit late, and too impersonal: “the most logical thing would be to give [the honor] to just one person and in front of the entire world, in front of el madridismo, because all of us who have been in this house are very grateful to the public. The club is truly them and not persons. The socios and the fans should be part of this tribute.” He also revealed that VDB has not decided whether he will attend the ceremony or not. He added, “Vicente del Bosque truly deserves a tribute and I would like it to be in another form, with the public involved,” and that he didn’t feel like he himself deserves any kind of recognition.
Meanwhile, Emilio Butragueño was on Punto Pelta, where he also talked about this issue. He said he was convinced that VDB would show up to receive it, as “he’s very much loved by all of el madridismo, for him it will be an honor, he has it in his blood and I’m convinced that he will accept it. We haven’t decided the date yet, but it will be next year. I speak with him all the time, we have a great relationship. He told me that there’s time, that we’ll talk, and I didn’t see anything strange. In no moment did I get the feeling about what is being said now. I’m very happy that he’s a socio de honor, because he’s one of the illustrious figures in the history of Real Madrid.”