all set for Betis!
We haven’t faced Betis in a while, as they played in the second division during the last two seasons, but we do have certain ties to the team, as you will find out later on in the post. But first, what was Kaká doing during yesterday’s training session? Was he imitating Michael Jackson at one point? Whatever it was, it made the usually serious Xabi and Lass both crack up. Meanwhile, Xabi and Iker were being muy jefe…
The water must have been welcome, considering how hot it was yesterday afternoon…
Madrid trained on Friday afternoon for the last time before tonight’s game at the Bernabéu (18h). José Mourinho had 21 footballers at his orders, 20 from the first team, plus Jesús from Castilla. Nuri Sahin, Ricardo Carvalho and Raúl Albiol are still in the sick bay.
What did Mou say to Karim? Look at the change in expression!
All 20 of these healthy players plus Jesús were called up for the game. Karim Benzema, Fábio Coentrão and Pepe returned after missing the last several convocatorias due to injury, while Ángel di María returns from a one-game suspension.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Ramos, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Varane, Coentrão, Pepe.
Midfielders: Özil, Di María, Xabi Alonso, Callejón, Khedira, Lass, Kaká, Granero, Altintop.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
In his press conference, José Mourinho assured the press that despite Karim and Gonzalo having “completely different DNA,” they can play together without any problems. In addition, he said that all of the players he called up are healthy, and any of them can play on Saturday, which is good news, since Cris, Mesut, Xabi and Sergio all had physical problems while with their national teams. As for the two-game suspension for the Supercopa finger incident, Mou said, “I have to comply with it, that’s it. I will do it during the Supercopa, I hope to do it next August, since that would mean that we won either the Liga or the Copa. And that’s my objective.” He also talked about Noel Gallagher’s desire to kiss him: “he’s a fan of Manchester City and he said that I should coach there. In this world, that happens to all of us who are public personae, there are people that hate us and people that love us.”
Looking ahead to the game, Betis coach Pepe Mel is a product of the Real Madrid cantera. He joined Madrid as an 11-year-old, making it all the way to Castilla where he played with Míchel and Emilio Butragueño. However, he was never able to break into the first team. When asked about his Madrid past at a press conference yesterday, Pepe Mel said proudly, “I was in Madrid from the time I started going to school until I got married. There, I learned values that accompanied me during my career as a footballer and which also helped me as a coach. This game is very special for me, of course.” Pepe is also an author, as he has just presented his first book, El mentiroso (The Liar), which is a work of fiction about the life of an art collector who finds several valuable manuscripts in Jerusalem that the Vatican wants to get their hands on. Sounds interesting…
Cristiano Ronaldo, meanwhile, made his debut against Betis as a 17-year-old Sporting player, when the two sides played a friendly. On Aug. 3, 2002, Cris (or according to the confused commentators, Custódio) came into the game in the 77th minute for Rui Bento, wearing the number 28, and ended up scoring the game-winning goal, a golazo in the 91st minute. Tonight’s game will also be his 100th official game as a Real Madrid player, during which he has scored 95 goals. I’m so glad he got rid of the frosted tips.
In other news, Zinedine Zidane will travel to Mali next week to fight against poverty. Zidane has been a goodwill ambassador for the UNDP for the past 10 years, and he says everyone should be involved in eliminating poverty. The trip coincides with the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, Oct. 17, and will include visits to working women and young people, as well as a project to promote environmental protection through the use of sustainable agricultural techniques. Meanwhile, this year’s game against poverty, already in its ninth edition, will take place in Hamburg, with the money raised going to fund humanitarian aid in the horn of Africa.
And more from AS’s survey. When Ikerfel asked the fans who their three favorite, current Spanish athletes are, 53 percent chose Rafa Nadal, 47 percent Pau Gasol and 32 percent Fernando Alonso. Tied for fourth place were Iker Casillas and Andrés Iniesta, with 16 percent of the votes each. Raúl, Sergio and Xabi also made the top 20, but with only 3-4 percent of the votes. Real Madrid fans’ favorite athletes were Pau Gasol (59 percent), Rafa Nadal (53 percent) and Iker (47 percent). Only one other team’s fans consistently chose Iker as one of their top three, Rayo Vallecano, in which Iker came in third with 40 percent of the votes after Pau and Rafa.
This photo has many people that I miss a lot.