all set for Osasuna, part II
Ready for the game? It will be strange to be at the Bernabéu and watch Madrid play before even eating lunch, so we’ll see how this goes today.*
It was nice when Madrid’s Facebook page started offering photos from during the concentración, but this latest batch borders a bit on creepy and stalkerish (and yes, I see the hypocrisy as I came up with “A Stalker’s Guide to Real Madrid”), especially the photo of Iker sleeping. I’m going to assume he’s just pretending to be sleeping to give us a glimpse of what it’s like, since he probably doesn’t keep his door open for the Madrid photographer, unless the photographer answers to the name Sergio Ramos or Álvaro Arbeloa.
And thoughts on what kind of pajamas Iker wears? They’ve got to be flannel plaid ones, which I would normally moan about, but then Javi’s (!!!) Soy Underwear ones came into mind, and these (imagined) ones for Iker suddenly looked a lot better.
We also got to see what Nuri Sahin, Sergio and Gonzalo did with their time – sending messages, watching a movie and watching TV/playing with his iPad, respectively. I like that Sergio removed his ring before lying down.
Anyway, Madrid is playing at 12h for the fourth time in their history, and for the first time in its 109 years of history at the Bernabéu. The three last occasions were all against Rayo Vallecano in Vallecas, with a balance of two wins and one loss. The last game at this hour took place on Sept. 3, 1995, when Jorge Valdano was coach and the line-up included players such as Raúl (wearing the number 17 in those purple Kelme kits), Hierro, Manolo Sanchís, Milla, Luis Enrique, with just one foreigner among them, Esnáider. Madrid won that game 5-1 behind goals from Amavisca, Sanchís, Hierro (2) and Quique.
It’s been said that this is a move to satisfy the Asian market, but then Juan Antonio Camacho (currently head coach of the Chinese national team) had to go say that in China, no one is talking about the kickoff time, and that the game will be televised only if there’s no ping pong or badminton matches to watch.
Madrid will also apparently wear shirts of support for Antonio Cassano before the game, with the message “Forza Cassano.” This was the idea of Sergio Ramos, who became good friends with Cassano while the latter was playing with Madrid.
Castilla beat Toledo 3-0 to become provisional leaders of their division! Joselu scored twice and Merchán also chipped in a goal to help Castilla win the game. Captain Nacho had said before the game that “we should beat Toledo and go to bed as leaders” and that’s exactly what they did. MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín reappeared after missing out on the last several games due to injury, coming in as a late substitute. Castilla is also the top goalscoring team in the division.
In the stands were Marcelo (who didn’t make the call-up for the Osasuna game) in a UCLA sweatshirt, as well as Álex, who was suspended for the game. Juan Carlos tweeted, “from here I send a hug to Álex, I see him freezing in the stands, jajaja, a kiss chiquitín!!”
Rubén de la Red won his first game yesterday, as he was the head coach of the Juvenil A team, due to the suspension of regular head coach Tristán Celador, as they beat Getafe 5-1. Getafe, meanwhile, was coached by Rubén’s former Getafe teammate Cosmin Contra.
Zinedine Zidane turned up in Alicante on Saturday, to watch the start of Leg 1 the Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12. Zidane was invited by watch company IWC Schaffhausen to go on board the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing’s Azzam vessel.
He sat aboard as the team raced, but as the race neared its finish, he abandoned the vessel, elegantly jumping off the ship (he wore a special suit that inflates when it touches water). He was then towed back to shore (only Prince Felipe, on board the Telefónica team’s vessel, didn’t have to jump into the water; he got to step on board a launch which took him back to shore).
Zizou said of the experience, “I thought the boat would be bigger… I don’t know how the 11 guys on board can still stand each other at the end! Yet, I think it’s nice for the teams. And it’s beautiful. It’s like Formula 1 in the paddocks: I find the boats sublime.”
The original jefe.
Following this game is an international week and a half, so knock on wood that all our players will come back unscathed. VDB won’t announce the list of players called up for Spain until Monday, but Iker, Sergio, Albiol, Arbeloa and Xabi are expected to be on it, and they will get a mini-break of sorts, as the concentración won’t start until Thursday morning, giving them a rare three-day vacation. However, four out of the five will spend most of Monday at the RFEF for class. Gonzalo Higuaín and Ángel di María will join Argentina for their games against Bolivia and Colombia, while Karim Benzema has friendlies with France against the U.S. and Belgium, and Rafa Varane will be with France’s U-21 team as they try to qualify for the 2013 U-21 Euro against Romania and Slovakia. The two Germans have games against Ukraine and the Netherlands, while Hamit Altintop will join Turkey as they try to qualify for the Euro in their playoff series against Croatia and Portugal with Cristiano, Pepe and Coentrão does the same against Bosnia. Brazil called both Kaká and Marcelo up, and Mou has already said that Kaká won’t be making the trip due to injury. The rest of the players won’t be back in training until Wednesday morning.
* I’d like to see this weekend through, out of gratitude for your support, and then we’ll see how the future of this blog goes… I’ve only read a few of the comments but so far they’ve been very nice, so thank you.