ICYMI – the curse lifting edition
In case you missed it – Lyon vs. Real Madrid [2011-11-02, Champions League group stage].
Madrid finally exorcised their ghosts (and appropriately, a few days after Halloween, during which Álvaro Arbeloa apparently dressed up as Freddy Krueger) and won at the Gerland, that field that had seemed to be cursed for them. Once again, they had a brilliant first half and a slightly more lackadaisical second half. José Mourinho described this game as “complete, serious and difficult” and it was all that. But it was also the game that allowed Madrid to qualify for the round of 16 of the Champions League.
ONE. Cristiano Ronaldo reached the 100 goal mark (or 101, depending on who you talk to) as a Real Madrid player, in 105 games, meaning his goal average in Spain is 0.95 per game. The goals in this game were also his 12th and 13th goals of the season (not counting the Supercopa). And he’s also averaging 0.5 assists per game, when in the two previous seasons the percentages were about half of that.
And of course, the goals were dedicated to Cristiano Jr.
This should shut up the talk about a crisis, no?
TWO. Iker Casillas had to work the hardest so far this season in this game: Lyon shot 18 times at the goal and Iker stopped seven of those shots. What a fantastic goalkeeper we have, no? But he didn’t think his defense was very fantastic at one point – Iker got upset with them for not covering the second post during a corner, causing him to yell “¡Joder! ¡Hostia!” (on the left). If that wasn’t enough to express his anger, he did it with gestures too (on the right).
I just like this picture, and the symmetry between the “I” and the “1.” Iker has not conceded a goal yet in the Champions League.
THREE. I liked that Mou kept Sergio as a centerback, despite missing Marcelo and Arbeloa and having to use Lass on the right, because Sergio belongs there. And Lass did a pretty great job as a fullback, first on the right and then on the left, once Coentrão left and Albiol came in.
FOUR. This is some great camera work on Karim Benzema.
FIVE. Thoughts on the hairstyle that Cris sported? It looks like a stylized rooster’s tail.
SIX. Following the game, our players congratulated each other and applauded the fans who had come to this game, while Karim hugged his former teammates. In the tunnel before the game, he and Lass had hugged and chatted with a big part of the Lyon team. Karim also received a round of applause from the Gerland when he was subbed out, showing that the people there still love him.
SEVEN. José Callejón and Iker gave their shirts away to Madrid fans after the game. The warm, fuzzy feeling brought on by this generous action was somewhat tempered by the fact that both were wearing underlayers and so neither ended up shirtless. But Iker with the captain’s armband on his bare arm is really quite sexy, no?
The shorts also came off. Unfortunately, he was also wearing something under those too.
EIGHT. We saw what Sergio and Mes’ headbands said earlier, and now we have Sami Khedira’s “sk6.” Plus, he has some great eyelashes!
NINE. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™ I loved Xabi’s reactions to some of the calls that the referee made.
This one was classic, especially the look he gives to Gourcuff afterward.
More Xabi being, well, Xabi.
TEN. I really like what Raúl Albiol said after the game (the first part): “it doesn’t matter whether I play as a fullback or a centerback, you have to help the team when a teammate is injured. We played a great first half and in the second half, we had opportunities to close out the game. The important thing is that the team achieved three points.” As for the mask, he said, “in a few days, I’m going to be able to play without the mask.” Real Madrid should organize a giveaway for the mask, like they did with Gonzalo Higuaín’s game jersey from the Real Sociedad game. By the way, Albiol was also asked about the sporting directors course he’s taking along with Iker, Sergio and Álvaro, and he says that so far it’s not very difficult and that he doesn’t see himself as a sporting director, unless it’s for the team of his hometown.
Meanwhile, Cristiano said he was happy with his two goals, and when asked which are his favorites out of the 100 he’s scored, he said “all are special and even more when they help the team.” He also took the opportunity to thank his teammates, and the coach “for giving me the opportunity to play and grow as a player and a person.” Our Crís once again shows what a selfish, arrogant player he is, no?
He also showed off a variety of expressions in his post-game interviews.
ELEVEN. The Mou corner.
When Mou was asked by El País if he had the feeling that the new defense had suffered more than he expected, Mou gave one of his typical answers: “your questions always have a negative connotation. Today you’re not asking me about Özil when in previous days you were preoccupied with this issue. Since Özil had a magnificent game, you ask me about Iker’s saves. Well, he made saves just like Lloris did, just like important goalkeepers do. Casillas is Casillas and it’s normal that a goalkeeper of a great team makes saves. If I were in the goal, we could lose 4-2. But Iker’s there and it’s normal that he makes saves.”
He also said he left Sergio in the center of the defense to give him continuity, though whether he stays there depends on the injured players, and called his placement there “a positive decision.” He added that he knew Albiol would do well as a fullback and bring stability, and praised Lass for playing in a position that he normally does not play, for the good of the group.
Mou also criticized his team because he believed they could have been “more intelligent when it came to avoiding cards.” He confirmed that Marcelo and Kaká won’t have recovered by this weekend, and that he doesn’t know if Coentrão will make it but “we don’t cry over injuries… the important thing is that there is solidarity and a sense of group. Everything is solved with that.”
TWELVE. Other notes.
– while Madrid was walking around Lyon in the morning, Nuri Sahin was training with Castilla.
– Dani Carvajal and Tomás Mejías were those players cut from the game day list.
– in the presidential palco: French basketball star Tony Parker, who plays for my favorite NBA team, and Zinedine Zidane, who sat next to FP.
– Madrid has Thursday off, and will return to training on Friday morning to begin preparing for Sunday’s noontime game against Osasuna.
– Cuatro paid a visit to Karim Benzema’s old neighborhood, where they met up with his sister. They look exactly alike, no? She could be his twin!
– on Thursday, Real Madrid joined the Red Cross’ “Día de la banderita” as they do every year, setting up a table outside La Esquina de Bernabéu. The table was staffed by wives of Real Madrid’s directors, as is the tradition. Fábio Coentrão, Nuri Sahin, Hamit Altintop and José Callejón stopped by to show their support, as did basketball player Novica Velickovic. Pitina Sandoval (FP’s wife) and Nuria González (wife of Fernando Fernández Tapias) are so lucky – they got to pin the players, and get to sit in the presidential palco each game. Plus, it was Nuria’s son Iván who got to receive a ball and a brand new shirt from Cristiano Ronaldo the day of his presentation in front of a packed Bernabéu (they got to sit right behind him too).
– and Iker revealed that what the Spaniards were looking at yesterday was this photo, and he asked us to guess who it is. I’d say it’s Xabi Alonso, as he’s been described as a sturdy, redheaded kid with a Basque face.