ICYMI – the cautious edition
In case you missed it – Real Sociedad vs. Real Madrid [2011-10-30, Liga jornada 11, 0-1].
The good news is that Real Madrid had a perfect month, winning all their games in October. The bad news is they suffered at the Anoeta, barely squeaking by with a win, and without the flashes of brilliance they’ve showed in recent games. That might have been due to the changes in the line-up, or because it’s been many games in a short amount of time. In any case, we can’t get too euphoric or expect too much yet, because while we are first in the standings now, there have only been 10 jornadas and so there is a lot of season left.
ONE. All eyes were on Xabi Alonso, because Real Madrid was taking on his beloved former team, in his hometown. And Xabi was a total boss out there. There will be random Xabi Alonso jefe/pose/elegance moments sprinkled throughout this ICYMI, starting with Xabi before the game, looking good on the bench and directing his troops during the warm-up.
TWO. As we saw in the pictures on Saturday, the boys took a paseo in the morning, checking out the gorgeous vista before them. But what we didn’t see were how fresquito it was, which caused Marcelo and Cris, who didn’t have the foresight to bring a jacket, to put their arms inside their shirts. Meanwhile, on the hotel balcony, something made Xabi laugh, and Pipita chased Marcelo around and gave him a little kick to his behind. ¡Adorable!
Poor Marcelo… look at how much an effort he’s making to explain something to Fábio, and Fábio doesn’t even look over at him! Xabi had more success with Iker.
THREE. Our boys were looking quite handsome before the game. I love how they, especially Xabi, can just sit around or stand casually, and it looks like they’re male models posing for a photo shoot. The tight sweaters are a nice touch too – check out Xabi’s biceps!
It looks like Xabi Alonso and Álvaro Arbeloa have found a substitute for the A-team while Raúl Albiol is out, Antonio Adán! For his part, he’s probably missing his inseparable Esteban Granero. While they were chatting, Xabi Alonso was explaining what the predecessor to the Anoeta, Atocha, was like, and probably how he used to watch games there. Meanwhile, everything made Marcelo giggle, and his laughter made everyone else laugh.
FOUR. Xabi being muy jefe.
FIVE. Because these are the types of things I notice.
SIX. There was only one goal on the night, but that was all we needed. It was Pipita’s turn to score on Saturday night.
What a great pass from Fábio, and what a great celebration by Gonzalo.
I loved that he ran to the bench to hug Marcelo (no kick in the behind this time), and look at how everyone else is looking on happily! And per his custom, Iker touched el larguero upon his team scoring.
SEVEN. Sergio was taking his role as second captain and a team leader seriously as well, encouraging his teammates before the game and going around giving everyone a high-five or a pat on the back. I love seeing him so involved like this!
EIGHT. More Xabi, with his gestures, his favorite pose and instructions for Kaká. I love how Xabi first gestures “come over here” (and with the ball tucked under his arm, how boss). Then he proceeds to to explain something to Ricky, and Fábio comes over because he knows it’s probably something he should also heed.
NINE. (It doesn’t matter what I write here, you’re not going to read it anyway, since your eyes will go directly to the photo.)
TEN. Meanwhile, over on the bench, the antics of Marcelo make Kaká laugh, and even Mou! At one point, Karim Benzema and Marcelo were imitating Pepe, but they just looked like robots. By the way, Real Sociedad’s (French) coach Philippe Montanier greeted Karim Benzema and Rafa Varane while the game was going on, as these two players were warming up on the sideline.
ELEVEN. Some rough tackles left our boys, Fábio and Sergio among them, clutching their shins in pain.
TWELVE. Xabi being súper elegante.
THIRTEEN. When the referee blew the whistle for the end of the game, Cris was extremely relieved, and his little celebration was mirrored by that of José Mourinho, who then walked out onto the field and started hugging his players, one by one. Cris had received a lot of abuse during the game, with the normal name-calling and death wishes, and so he also shouted something back on the way to the locker room: “os vais a joder, caralho.”
I loved the hugs! The rest of the technical staff – Karanka, Rui Faria, Silvino – did the same as Mou, as did the players with each other. I’ll say it again, I love it!
Aitor Karanka also chatted with Real Sociedad’s starlet Rubén Pardo, whom he once coached on Spain’s U-17 team.
And then came the big moment. Xabi Alonso took his shirt off. He should do that in public more often, like every day.
FOURTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™ Well, this entire post has been like the The Xabi Alonso pose section™ but here’s more in case you’re not satisfied yet. I don’t know if it was the return to his hometown, to his beloved club, or just because the stars were aligned for him, but Xabi was in top form on Saturday, no?
FIFTEEN. The Mou corner.
After the game, Mou said that this was an important win, and that they had suffered. However, he did have praise for his team: “Madrid knew how to play with weariness, which is very important after five consecutive games and two or three days between each game. That takes away your physical and mental freshness. In the second half, we lost quality and danger but we gained mentality and collective strength.”
What a difference a year makes. Remember Mou’s performance at the Anoeta a year ago, with the bottle throwing after Sergio Ramos’ defensive mistake, and the ten packs of gum he chewed that night?
SIXTEEN. Real Madrid’s FB gave us this picture of Iker warming up, while Iker gave us this picture of himself on the plane. He wrote, “I’m on the airplane returning to Madrid, and I’m going to have a Mahou and toast it to the health of the team! For you all: Arbeloa and the rest! Jajaja!”
SEVENTEEN. Other notes.
– after the game, two songs could be heard coming out of Madrid’s locker room: Michel Teló’s “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” (naturally) and Carlos Baute’s “Amarte bien,” which Álvaro just recommended on his twitter the other day. And not just the songs, but the voices of the players, singing along.
– casualties from the game: Kaká has a bruise to his right calf, while Arbeloa has a bruise in his left quads.
– Real Madrid is giving us the chance to win Gonzalo Higuaín’s shirt from this game. All you have to do is leave a message, in Spanish on how you would define Pipa’s goal. He’ll choose his favorite answer and the winner will receive his shirt.
Gonzalo was at a promotional act for Nike on Monday, and looking fine.
– the team had the day off on Sunday, but José Callejón and Esteban Granero still went to Valdebebas to work out. El Pirata is still recovering from his plantar fasciitis, and both are working hard to hopefully convince the coach to give them more minutes. Esteban has only played eight minutes this season, while José is not doing much better at 127 minutes.
– the boys were back in training on Monday, preparing for Wednesday’s game against Lyon (again?). Esteban Granero rejoined the team, and Tomás Mejías was called up as well, making it a total of 21 footballers out there at Valdebebas. The starters from Saturday’s game stretched and jogged, while the rest of the players did circuit training and worked on the physical aspect of their games. The absentees were Carvalho, Kaká and Arbeloa.
And here, have some Xabi for this part of the post as well. The back of Mr. Alonso is just as delicious as the front.
– Castilla beat Leganés 3-1 on Sunday behind two goals from Jesé and one from Óscar Plano. Castilla is now second in the standings, but the big news was that Jesé got rid of that strange facial hair and was looking like his normal self.
EIGHTEEN. To end, vintage Xabi, from his time at Real Sociedad, including a goal against Real Madrid. Vicente del Bosque must be happy that he gets to coach Xabi now, instead of having to play against him.