all set for Real Sociedad!
Some things don’t change… and if you don’t believe me, check out these photos of Sergio Ramos and Pipita Higuaín from yesterday and today. They’re virtually the same, no? And hopefully, Madrid’s hot streak won’t change either, and they’ll continue playing the great football they’ve been playing as of late tonight against Xabi Alonso’s old team, el club de sus amores, Real Sociedad (22h).
Madrid held its last training session before tonight’s game against Real Sociedad on Friday afternoon. With only Esteban Granero and Ricardo Carvalho remaining injured, José Mourinho had 22 players (21 from the first team, plus Tomás Mejías from Castilla) at his disposal to plan the session around. The players were divided into three groups: goalkeepers, starters from the Villarreal game (minus Iker) and the rest of the players. Each group did their own specific
rapping work. I love how cariñoso Mou was with his players, and how Marcelo turns everything into The Marcelo Show.
Mou called up 19 footballers from the first team and Tomás Mejías for the game. Lass returns after missing the last two games, while Raúl Albiol and Nuri Sahin missed out despite being fully recovered.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.
Defenders: Ramos, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Varane, Pepe, Coentrão.
Midfielders: Özil, Di María, Xabi Alonso, Callejón, Lass, Khedira, Kaká, Altintop.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
At his press conference, Mou tried to dampen the enthusiasm surrounding this new, improved Madrid, and also managed to get a dig in at another club and the supposed help they receive from referees. He said, “football is deceitful. I have many years of experience and it wouldn’t be a surprise if we don’t play well or lose one of the next games. And then everything will shift to the other side, which happens habitually in this club. We’re playing well and so everything seems to be easy, the same as when you’re not playing well and everything seems to be complicated… When Real Madrid doesn’t play well, they lose. When others play badly, they don’t lose.” He added later on, “in the last few games, we’ve scored many goals early, but that’s not normal. It will be our turn to suffer, to have to make a comeback.”
Mou also confirmed that Nuri Sahin has recovered fully, but that he has to get into the rhythm of things because he hasn’t played since April. Our coach also praised Kaká, saying, “He’s playing really well. I’ve seen the real Kaká because I was in Italy and the Kaká there wasn’t injured and was a fantastic player. Madrid has never had him like that, not Pelligrini and not me in my first season… Now he’s found his physical and psychological equilibrium. He has everything now: joy, physical strength, he can change speeds, confidence and goals.” With regards to whether Sergio will continue as a centerback (por favor, ¡sí!), Mou said “we’ll see what is the best for the team” with the return of Albiol and Carvalho. Mou also said he doesn’t mind playing at noontime, and that he prefers it to playing at 22h: “I’m not the one that chooses the kickoff times. When I go to the movies, I’m the one that chooses the time, whether at four or at 10, it’s not the actors that decide.”
Following the press conference, the team traveled to Donostia, looking quite handsome in their gray, v-neck sweaters worn over black button-downs. I guess this year the team outfit didn’t include shoes.
Of course, Xabi was one of the most sought after players.
During the trip, Sergio, Iker and Álvaro Arbeloa found time to tease each other, and Xabi. Iker and Sergio both posted this picture. Iker accompanied it with the following: “I don’t have words to describe the joy that Xabi Alonso radiates… you can see how happy he looks… jajaja!!! And if I have to define Arbeloa’s mood… NO COMENT!! At least Sergio and I bring some good sense to the photo…” Meanwhile, Sergio tweeted the photo along with the words “Iker is annoying.” That caused Álvaro to tweet back, “Jajaja!! How tiring he is!”
P.S. check out this vintage picture of Iker and Xabi!
At the team hotel, Kaká and Rafa Varane met with fans, signing postcards, shirts, posters and balls, and posing for photographs.
This morning, the boys had a stretching session on the beach, and also played the part of tourists, taking pictures with the lovely view of La Concha, La Isla de Santa Clara and the Cantabrian Sea from their hotel. How did Sergio find himself amongst the Portuguese-speaking group? And where is Antonio Adán for the Spanish group? By the way, Álvaro Arbeloa looks quite guapo in that photo, no? And be sure to check out Kaká’s photo of La Concha!
I’m sure Xabi and Mou had a long and interesting discussion on the merits of Donostia around the time this photo was taken (Xabi was probably like, I wake up to this every morning in the summer), and while Sergio was looking contemplative, he was probably thinking about how perfect his hair looks. It really does.
Madridista news: Toni Nadal, Rafa Nadal’s coach and uncle, told a meeting of family-owned businesses that his nephew would have “preferred to play football, especially if he had the opportunity to play in Real Madrid.”
Other news: on Thursday, Cristiano Ronaldo headed to the Caja Mágica to watch Real Madrid take on EA7 Emporio Armani in a Euroleague game, along with Javier García Coll. Madrid ended up winning the game 85-78 in their Euroleague home debut. Cris looked quite bored at the game, but that was probably because he didn’t have Pepe and Marcelino with him.
Poor Peter Lion and Sergio Canales. When they finally get out of the hell (for them) that is Real Madrid, and start getting regular playing time, both end up suffering setbacks, in the form of injuries to their right knees.
Pedro León is out for six weeks after injuring the cartilage in his right knee. Luckily, however, there’s no damage to his ligaments. Three weeks ago, during a training session, he collided with Cata Díaz. In the beginning, it didn’t seem like anything. However, last week, after playing some minutes against Real Sociedad, his knee started swelling up. He got tests done, and found that he needed surgery. He’s was operated on in Barcelona today, by a doctor that his family knows, though Madrid had offered their own medical services.
As for Sergio Canales, he will be out for six months after being operated on yesterday at the Santias La Moraleja. He received a plastic implant after it was found that he had completely torn the ACL in his right knee. Sergio C. is expected to be released from the hospital on Monday, after which he will return to Valencia to begin rehab.
Best of luck to both of them! And how cute that Sergio C. wished Peter Lion a lot of luck via twitter!