all set for Málaga!
It’s time to play Málaga (20h), a sort of Madrid in exile as some media outlets are calling it, as that’s where Pellegrini, RvN and Baptista are currently employed, as well as Fernando Hierro. On Friday, Madrid held its last training session before today’s game, with 18 first team players practicing alongside Jesús from Castilla. The absentees were Sahin, Coentrão, Albiol, Lass and Carvalho, the same as Thursday’s session. It wasn’t all work though, as the two andaluces found time to joke around, pretending to fight each other before making up with an epic hug.
By the way, the kart racing post has been updated!
Meanwhile, José’s bromantic buddy Gonzalo Higuaín didn’t have time to be jealous, because Marcelo and Pepe were paying a lot of attention to him. Perhaps too much, judging by Pipita’s (somewhat delayed) reaction. And things when in a full circle when Sergio then started messing around with Marcelino.
The boys, including Cristiano and Ángel, also found the time to relate their karting experience to Mou, who listened attentively Did they get any work done in the first 15 minutes?
All 19 of these players, plus Nacho, were called up for the game. Coentrão has problems with his left knee.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Ramos, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Varane, Pepe, Nacho Fernández.
Midfielders: Özil, Di María, Xabi Alonso, Callejón, Khedira, Kaká, Granero, Altintop.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
In his press conference prior to the training session, Mou talked about the kart racing event on Thursday, saying, “I would have preferred that they presented the cars without racing karts, but Audi is an important sponsor of the club and we couldn’t say no [finally, someone overruled Mou!]. They did things with caution and reduced the time. The players had fun and there weren’t problems. The speed was limited [yet still too fast for Iker] and the time as well.”
Mou also talked about the transformation of Cristiano Ronaldo, from a goalscorer to an assist provider: “I’ve always said that Cristiano is not an egotistical player. I’ve always said he has his own style and a DNA that is his own and which can’t be changed. In addition, I don’t want to change him. I don’t want him to lose his characteristics. The team is playing well, those up front are scoring their goals, such as Özil, Kaká, Higuaín, Callejón, and it’s normal that he participates more.” Mou also expressed his satisfaction with how Sergio Ramos is playing, saying, “when you have a player that plays equally well in more than one position, that means that you have more players on the team. We have four or five players like Fábio, Özil and Ramos, and that’s good.” He also said he knows which 11 players are going to start tonight, but didn’t want to reveal it.
What he did reveal was that Ricardo Carvalho has been signed on to the end of the 2013 season, saying that the club exercised the option to renew his contract last year.
Following the training session, the team flew to Málaga. At the Hotel Barceló, Madrid’s two andaluces met with fans, signed autographs (including one on a bullfighting cape) and posed for pictures. However, they didn’t manage to impress this baby. With four teams from Andalucía in the first division this year, do you think Sergio and José will be teamed up once more?
As for the rest of the evening, a tweet from Xabi explained what some of the players were up to: “preparing for the FIFA12 competition. Sergio and Arbeloa are warming up, Karim and Mesut are calmer and confident.” He needs to follow up with a tweet on who won!!
Looking ahead to the game, Ruud van Nistelrooy spoke to Marca, and here are the highlights, the parts relevant to this post because he talks about Real Madrid.
You’re facing Madrid, who would have thought that! Yes, it’s true. When I said goodbye to the Bernabéu, against Málaga, to be precise, I never imagined that Madrid and I would end up crossing paths again. I left for Hamburg to play minutes and I thought I would end my career there. And look at me now… I’m very excited about this game.
It won’t be strange for you to play against Madrid? I don’t know. I don’t think it will be too strange in this game. I’ll be concentrating on the game, it will start, my pulse will go up, I will try to do the best for Málaga… at the beginning, I will of course have my former teammates there, many friends, and it will be impossible not to remember things. But when the referee blows the whistle, my feelings will remain to one side.
Do you think a lot about what happened in January? Yes, of course, I remember everything. In that moment, I felt an enormous disappointment, because returning to Madrid would have been wonderful. It would end a precious history. But it wasn’t to be and now you don’t know what could have happened.
Do you still feel madridista? Yes. Now I’m in Málaga and I’m 100 percent for this club, but my time in Madrid wasn’t normal, it was very special and I’ll always have a great connection with this club and its fans.
Are you a goal scorer before a madridista? I’m a goalscorer and now a malaguista before everything else. My affection for Madrid is there and no one can doubt it. But there’s a game and there won’t be any sentiments.
Have you spoken with Iker? No, I wanted to call him but he’s always changing his number… it was impossible.
And what would you have said to him? I would have told him not to make any miracles this week. To be tranquil, since he has already won a World Cup and a Eurocopa, and so he shouldn’t make an effort.
Several media outlets (Marca, COPE, La Sexta, among them) have reported that José Mourinho won’t require the concentración before Wednesday’s game against Villarreal because he apparently made a bet with his players. As a reward for winning five consecutive games (Rayo, Ajax, Espanyol, Betis, Lyon), he won’t require them to sleep at a hotel the night before the game. This isn’t the first time that Mou has done something like that – last year, he promised the players that if they beat Levante by six goals, he would allow them to spend the noche de Reyes at home. Madrid won that game 8-0. And who can forget how happy Iker was when Mou said they could skip the concentración before the derby against Atleti last season? Mou has joked that he’s kept the concentraciones despite an effort by the team to get rid of them because “my wife can’t stand having me at home.”
Marca reports that Raúl Albiol will be wearing a mask for the next 20 days or so, to protect his fractured cheekbone. Several days ago, a technician from Ortopedia Juan Bravo came to Valdebebas to take El Chori’s facial measurements. On Wednesday, Raúl headed to the workshop to try on the mask, but he didn’t like it, so a new one was made, which he picked up on Thursday. The mask is made of a special plastic which is transparent and can absorb any type of impact. It cost around €600.
Here’s another quote from Noel Gallagher, which he said to GQ España: “although I prefer Barça, I support Mourinho. In England, we adore him, the years he spent there with Chelsea are unrepeatable. We love his hairstyle, his tan, his dog, his arrogance. His press conferences are very amusing. And if I ever see him, I’ll give him two kisses.”
During Thursday’s Audi event, Iker spoke with the web site, and said some captain-y things, such as “that kids and young people have posters of me in their rooms is an honor, but it’s also a big responsibility, because we’re role models for them. What we do on the field or off of it is very important. When you’re 14 or 15, football takes precedence over spending time with friends or having fun, but what it’s taken away has never been more than what it’s given me. There are always more good things than bad. Football has given me everything I have in life and what it’s taken away, I don’t even remember.” He also said he has the ambition to continue winning, and “if tomorrow I’m tired or I’m not enjoying my profession, I will leave my spot so that someone else with this desire can take over.”
In an interview with Ona FM, Guti talked about Madrid coaches, past and present. With regards to José Mourinho, he said, “there are some things about him that I don’t like. The madridista feeling is of integrity, and of having this shirt above all persons.” He added that Mou is “a person with a defined character that fights for his ideas to the death. That’s good, because football would eat you alive if it were the other way around.” As for Vicente del Bosque and the issue on everyone’s lips at the moment, Guti said, “Del Bosque is my football father. I understand him. Many times you feel used. When others no longer have interest in you, they get rid of you.” Sounds like he could be talking about his own situation, no? And I hope he never stops tweeting – his tweets are so amusing!
Meanwhile, during a chat with “El Partido de las 12,” VDB had this to say. It looks like he has decided not to attend the ceremony proclaiming him a socio de honor.
on the recognition from Real Madrid: it’s a delicate issue for me, because no matter what I do or say, it will be misinterpreted. It’s a difficult test to pass, I remember Molowny, who was my football father, telling me, “Vicente, the bull is going to gore you.” I just hope it won’t be anything serious. And that’s what I’m trying to do.”
on whether he will attend: I spoke with Butragueño because he’s a good man and I have confidence in him, and he knows perfectly well what my intentions are. I have made my decision and there’s no turning back. I don’t feel comfortable and I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable with me.
on his departure from Madrid: I am neither upset nor bitter, but I am disappointed with what happened. Me too.