ten days, one post
Though I was missing Iker, Xabi, Sergio and co. in Madrid during the international week (and who can blame me, especially when they look this good), the absence of the international players from the team made the training sessions more relaxed, as we can see in this moment where José Mourinho turned to the cameras and said, “Silvino tiene una relación de amor con la cámara” (Silvino has a love relationship with the camera). And I have a love relationship with this team.
The few players left in Madrid returned to training on Wednesday morning (Nov. 9), in Campo 3 of Valdebebas. Only five players from the first team were present – Lass, Sahin, Granero, Adán and Callejón – which meant that a handful of Castilla players joined in (the entire team, actually, so enough for everyone to have a favorite canterano), under the supervision of Mou and his staff, as well as Alberto Toril. They tried out some new training techniques, including this one being displayed by José Callejón. In addition to training with it, he also used it to strike Rui Faria as a joke. Meanwhile, Marcelo, Kaká, Di María and Carvalho remained injured and so they stayed inside and continued with their recovery processes.
Good to see how enthusiastic Mandi is, no? Bonus picture of Nacho looking dorky here, tweeted by his brother. And a little quiz: Jorge Casado, Nuri Sahin or both?
On Thursday (Nov. 10), the team trained with Real Madrid C (will Juvenil A be next?). That was about the only big difference with the previous session. After all, Esteban and José were as adorable as always…
… and José was still bopping people with the ball in a net thing. On the other hand, we had José Mourinho… dancing??? Could that be possible? I told you there was a relaxed atmosphere?
On Friday (Nov. 11), the team held their last training session of the week, as they got the weekend off. For the third day in a row, there were only five first team players out on the field, and for the second day in a row, they trained with RMC. And the injured players remain injured. The Real Madrid photographers, meanwhile, captured Esteban Granero being Mou’s substitute boss, with Xabi gone, and subjected Nuri Sahin to the same awkward pose that they made Manu Adebayor do last season (who can forget it?).
The team returned to training on Monday (Nov. 14), where the five players left in Madrid worked out alongside several RMC players (Suárez, Kamal, Aguza, Señé), plus Jesús from Castilla. Marcelo and Kaká were accompanied by Carlos Lalín as they worked out on the field, doing strength exercises, while Di María and Carvalho stayed inside to continue with their recovery processes. The session ended with a mini-game, with each first team player paired up against a current canterano: Adán vs. Jesús, Callejón vs. Súarez, Granero vs. Kamal, Sahin vs. Aguza and Lass vs. Señé in a one-on-one situation. Mou was feeling generous that day and gave the media access to the entire session (see? More evidence!).
On Tuesday (Nov. 15), Ricardo Carvalho was seen for the first time in months, when he appeared on the field with Carlos Lalín to begin the next phase of his recovery process (he stretched and jogged).
Marcelo and Kaká were also around, as they were reincorporated back into the group of five first team players. They were joined by nine canteranos: Iván, Rios, Mandi, Omar, Merchán, Óscar Plano, Raúl Ruiz, Lucas and Jesús. These players jogged, did passing exercises and circulated the ball. Esteban Granero spent the time looking boss.
The international players were back in Madrid for Wednesday’s (Nov. 16) training session, and mostly unscathed (percentage wise, that is). “Only” Cristiano Ronaldo and Álvaro Arbeloa returned with injuries, so they missed out on the session. Cristiano had played both games of Portugal’s playoff series against Bosnia and ended with pain in the abductor muscle of his left thigh. Meanwhile, Alvarito had played all 180 minutes of Spain’s two friendlies and also ended with pain in his left hamstring muscle. The rest of the international players (Iker, Sergio, Xabi, the two Germans, Benzema, Altintop) participated in a recovery session, while Pepe, Coentrão and Higuaín worked out inside in the gym.
As for the rest of the healthy players, including Albiol and Varane, they worked out alongside several Castilla players (Nacho, Casado, Carva, Mandi, Álex, Juanfran, Joselu, Óscar Plano, Jesús). Carvalho jogged outside as he continued with his recovery process, and Di María remains injured. We can always count on Marcelo to bring a smile to our faces, and to be the canterano cheerleader.
On Thursday (Nov. 17), the team trained behind closed doors (the kind that means that even the web site doesn’t give any photos), but it’s been reported that Cristiano and Álvaro both re-joined their teammates and trained normally, so they should be in condition to play on Saturday.
The game against Valencia will be important not only in terms of Madrid’s standing in the Liga, but also because a victory will mean that they won’t have a concentración before the next Champions League game against Dinamo Zagreb.
All set for Valencia!
The team trained again behind closed doors on Friday – the strategy they’re to use against Valencia must be top secret! Aitor Karanka spoke to the press (for the fifth time this season) before the game in a very short press conference (6.5 minutes and nine questions; Mou’s press conferences usually last around 20 minutes), during which he updated everyone on the status of the injured players. Kaká and Carvalho are not completely healed from their injuries (thigh and back respectively), while Marcelo, Sahin, Altintop and Cristiano are, so they were called up. Kaká has not suffered a setback and his recovery process is going “normally,” while Carvalho is not suffering psychological problems (depression), as some media had reported. Cris had trained during the last two days “although with a different program than the rest,” and Sahin is ready to play “0, 30 or 90 minutes.”
Aitor also said that they’re taking the game seriously, as last year’s result (3-6) “is not normal for two great teams. This time it will be different. We won’t score six goals. If they win, they will be within one point of us. This is one of those games where the points are very important.”
Twenty footballers were called up for the game, including Castilla keeper Jesús. Carvalho, Kaká, Di María and Coentrão remain injured.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Arbeloa, Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Albiol, Marcelo.
Midfielders: Özil, Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Altintop, Callejón, Lass, Granero, Khedira.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
Four hundred fans greeted Madrid upon their arrival at Manises. Once the team was at their hotel, the Westin (where more fans were awaiting them), Nuri Sahin and Hamit Altintop came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures in the habitual meet and greet session with local fans.
The players also kept themselves busy by posting pictures on twitter and Facebook. On the way to Valencia, Nuri Sahin and Iker Casillas took a photo together, with Nuri calling our capi his “idol.”
And we also found out that José Callejón (or Callejita as Iker called him) has to be in his hometown of Motril on Sunday, the day of the general elections, as he’s been named as the substitute president of a voting table (his residency is still in Motril). If the president is absent, then José will fulfill his duties, meaning he has to remain at the voting center. So, after the game in Valencia, José will return to Motril to prepare for this important duty. Iker and José posed like they were voting, but they just look a bit like rabbits. And why did both Callejita and Pipita pose with Iker, but not together? Plus, that sandwich looks pretty good, no?
I guess this picture will serve as my consolation, though most of it is taken up by Iker’s pale leg (and he really can’t bear to be without his iPhone, can he?). Where’s Xabi?
Meanwhile, Pepe and Cris were
asked by the photographers to pose like this reading/writing.
In an interview with German media outlet Kicker, Cris described himself as a “true friend” of Mesut and Sami, saying both are very fun people. He added that when they eat together, he always sits on their side of the table, as they constantly crack jokes and so they have a lot of fun together. Cris said in response to another question that generally, he prefers not to be alone, so he likes having his family and friends around.
And Kaká appeared on the Kajuru Pregunta program. There, he described Ricardo Carvalho as “my best friend in Real Madrid, the teammate that I speak with the most.” Given their personalities and preferred lifestyles (and shared name), that’s no surprise, but I’m sure most people want Kaká and Cris to be best friends forever and ever, no? He also called (Brazilian) Ronaldo “the best player I have ever played with. I played against Zidane, but not with him. Ronaldo is the best for his creativity and his speed.”
Karim Benzema also had good words for Ronaldo, when he spoke with “So Foot.” He called Ronaldo “the greatest ever. He’s fast, skilled, creative… from the time that I was a kid, I watched everything he did. He inspires me.” Karim went on to say, “if he were on my team, I would stay on the bench to watch him. And if I got to play with him, I would pass him the ball every single time. There’s no possible comparison between him and me, I would never do that. For me, he’s unique.” He also revealed that Mourinho demands a lot from him, and he’s grateful for that. And I love this quote:
I never thought about leaving. If you’re in Madrid, where could you want to go?
In declarations to French TV program Téléfoot, José Mourinho was asked about Karim Benzema, and where he believes Karim should improve. Mou’s response: “he’s a footballer that, as a center forward, has a level of creativity that for me is incredible, although perhaps he should be a bit more ‘killer.’ I don’t know how to say that in French. Ah yes, tueur.”
In an interview with “El Partido de las 12” from Costa Rica, Iker spoke about his relationship with Mou, saying that Mou had called him to congratulate him for his 126 games with Spain, and to tell him that he’s very old and that he doesn’t have many games left. Iker went on to say, “there’s friction between Mourinho and me every day… look at the headline that I just gave you! We speak of football every day, I tell him some things, he tells me other things and in the end, he’s the one in charge. There is a lot of joking around as well, but when we have to be serious, we are. The míster is an open person.” Iker went on to clarify things, since he knows there will be people taking this out of context: “I have no problem with Mourinho and I speak almost every day with him.”
In an interview with Cuatro, Vicente del Bosque spoke about his departure from Madrid: “it was a situation that was a bit… it was like something had gone wrong inside your own family. I felt very hurt, very hurt. It made me sad because it wouldn’t have cost any effort for them to have been elegant in the goodbye.” I agree 100 percent.
In an interview with Die Welt, Sami Khedira praised Mou: “Mou is the perfect coach, not only professionally, but also on a human level. He helps you, especially when you’re not going through your best moment. He doesn’t leave you alone, I can’t think of anyone better than him.” He also revealed that he and Sergio still joke about the World Cup: “of course we talk about it. Sergio likes to talk about Spain’s victory over Germany, but I tell him that we’ll see what happens in the Eurocopa, that it’s our turn. I sit in the back of the bus and we joke about this.”
Last week, the Realmadrid Foundation signed an agreement to collaborate with the Fundación Amparo Rubiales, the city hall of Camas (Sevilla) and Caja Sol, to create the Sergio Ramos School of Social Integration (Escuela de Integración Social ‘Sergio Ramos’) in Camas. As Sergio was on national team duty, he wasn’t able to attend, but he did say, “I’m proud to have a school in my land and in my name. I send my regards to all the children of the new school and I assure you all that when I can, I’ll come pay you a visit.”
Sergio spent his mini-vacation in Sevilla. On Wednesday (Nov. 9), he attended a charitable event organized by the Spanish Tennis Federation and the Banco de Alimentos, where anyone who donates a kilo of food can get a free bracelet promoting the final of the Davis Cup, which will be held from Dec. 2-4 in La Cartuja in Sevilla. In declarations to the press, he said that he is very happy in Real Madrid, but that his former club Sevilla “will always have a rinconcito (little corner) in my heart” so he’s not ruling out a return to the club in the future. Sergio was wearing a denim jacket with jeans. It looked quite horrible. Meanwhile, Iker spent his vacation in Rome and Álvaro Arbeloa spent his at the gym in Valdebebas.
I would have thought that Madrid would have seen from that runaway success “Realvolution” that music is not their thing, but then they decided to launch this Legends project – “The Legends – The Official Real Madrid Digital Music Album.” The first “single,” “Everybody,” is described as “a high energy dance adaptation of the beloved team anthem ‘Himno del Real Madrid’ originally composed in 1952.” I like the original hymn just fine, and I don’t believe there was any need to tweak it, much less make it awful. Have a listen yourself. But be warned, it’s like the equivalent of an assault on your ears (that’s how it usually goes when the song consists of one word
shouted repeated over and over again).
They’ve also come come out with an – for lack of a better word – interesting iPhone app, “Real Madrid Talking Players,” where you can provide the voices while the animated players (with their creepy eyes) move around. You get Ángel di María and his heart making hands for free, with Mesut Özil, Cristiano Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos available for purchase. Unfortunately, the “would you like to buy one Ramos for €1.59” didn’t mean what I would have liked it to mean (and no, I did not end up buying anyone).
This year’s caganers are out, and I’m taking it as a compliment that both Iker and Sergio are featured. Wait, that Sergio looks like the one in the iPhone app…
Over on Facebook, Karim Benzema was trying out his sexy faces on us (and a few cheesy ones) and Sami Khedira was laughing at Mesut Özil for filming him while he was doing an interview. If Sami actually wrote the Spanish message that accompanied the post, then his Spanish is pretty good, and I can’t wait to hear him speak it.
The next interview in the Real… series is Raúl Albiol. I haven’t watched it yet, but let’s hope that Óscar Ribot has corrected some of his bad habits, such as constantly interrupting the interviewee (see Real… Kaká), getting people’s names wrong (see Real… Coentrão) and asking really idiotic leading questions (see the Copa del Rey question on Real… Carvalho). Of note: Raúl wore another Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles shirt (yes, he has more than one!!) and in his dedication to the employees of RMTV, wrote “Tortugas Ninja Raphael!” under his autograph. Well, at least we now know which turtle is his favorite.
There was this touching video of Iker’s former goalkeeping coach with Madrid, Manuel Amieiro, speaking about his star pupil and showing Iker’s “report cards” throughout the years. What I like is that on the psychological level, Iker was described as having “a good relationship with the rest of his teammates” one year and “a good teammate” another year. And I see that he’s always had trouble in the air!
Plus, who can resist the photos of baby Iker? In a separate interview, Manolo wrote that when Iker was 13, he had the potential to be a great goalkeeper, and said that from the first day, you could tell that Iker was different from the rest, and that he seemed much older than teammates of his same age. Manolo’s favorite save from Iker were the penalties against Italy in the 2008 Eurocopa.
Speaking of our players as babies, here’s the adorable Álvaro Arbeloa as a child.
On Thursday (Nov. 17), Cristiano presented the new line of CR7 for Nike clothing, which includes boots (when I first heard about this, I was cringing, thinking about Cris’ previous attempts at being a fashion designer with the CR7 clothing line). This time, however, the results weren’t too bad, as
there were people with veto power he got some help in the designing part. The clothes are surprisingly wearable, and not as brightly colored as I thought. But it looks like Cris is keeping with the “safari” theme, because the “Explosive Speed” boots were reminiscent of zebras.
During the presentation, Cris said that he was convinced that the team would win something this year. He added that he’s always motivated to improve in training sessions and games, and that he loves to play and to let people enjoy watching. This was followed by a clinic with 12 kids aspiring to be like him, but while Cris put on shorts and boots, he didn’t play with them or join in the exercises.
Cris also answered a couple of questions on his style. ONE. Is your look off the field just as important? I like to look neat. If you ask who in the locker room is the best dressed, I would say me (laughs). TWO. Who looks in the mirror more, you or your girlfriend? That’s a difficult question. I don’t waste time looking at myself in the mirror. People don’t know me. THREE. How do you spend the concentraciones? I don’t watch TV, but I do watch movies on my computer. On the national team, I play cards a lot. I try not to think too much about the game, that’s not good. FOUR. Is it true that you soak your boots in water? Yes, in hot water, new boots are always more stiff and after doing this, they’re softer. FIVE. Are you as perfectionist as it’s said? You always have to work. For example, my shooting with my left foot and my vision of play can be improved. SIX. What weapons do a perfect player have? Speed, strength, intelligence and a lot of technical qualities. SEVEN. Why “seven” as your number? I’ve liked it since I was a kid and I’ve always worn it. And it’s always gone well for me.
Later that evening, Cris accompanied girlfriend Irina Shayk as she went to pick up the award for “top celebrity of the year” from Marie Claire magazine. Irina looked beautiful in a gown by Elie Saab (the shoes let her down quite a lot though) while Cris unfortunately accessorized his overly shiny suit with an Hermes belt, which didn’t match either. And like his girlfriend, he didn’t get it right with his choice of shoes.
Besides reporting about how close the couple looked and how they kept stealing kisses, the press is complaining about their behavior, everything from the late arrival and focusing on their mobile phones while others were receiving their awards to Irina giving her thank you speech only in English and not saying anything in Spanish. They’re also upset that the couple didn’t pose for the photocall and with Cris for refusing to sign autographs.
And in a great gesture, Cris released videos in Spanish and English asking for people to become bone marrow donors, like he has for the past three years, to help Gustavo, the son of his national team teammate and Granada player Carlos Martins, and others in his situation. And who can forget that picture of Pepe kissing Carlos and Fábio hovering over Carlos once the news came out?
Also on Thursday evening, Madrid’s basketball team beat Turkish team Efes 104-84. In the crowd was Nuri Sahin.
There was a lovely article in Marca about David Mateos. Here’s the gist of it: David was always a Madrid fan, as was his entire family. In fact, his uncle Jesús had once written a letter to Madrid asking them to give David a trial. However, his grandfather Alicio was always a Real Zaragoza fan, because he had often gone to Zaragoza on business. David says, “my grandfather always supported Zaragoza. I remember he had a small flag on his Renault 9 and I asked him why he supported Zaragoza. He looked at me and he answered me, ‘because I like that team.'” And when David signed for Zaragoza, his grandfather’s dream came true. Sadly however, he passed away on the day of David’s presentation, before he could see his grandson play for his beloved team.
David says, “I will never forget it. I came out of my presentation and my girlfriend Deborah told me to call my mother immediately. As soon as she told me that, I know that something had happened with my grandfather. I wasn’t wrong. He had been in the hospital for days. He passed away and he couldn’t see me play.” Before returning to Madrid, David went to El Corte Inglés and bought a Zaragoza shirt (he didn’t have any yet), which he gave to his cousin Maite so that his grandfather could be buried with it.
One month later, David debuted with Zaragoza. He says, “my grandmother Adela always tells me, ‘play well, your grandfather is watching you.’ That’s why, for my family and my girlfriend, I want to triumph in Zaragoza and become an important player.” ¡Mucha suerte David!
Plus, there was bit on David’s dog, five-month-old Pandora (he often posts pictures of her on twitter). She used to belong to Joselu, but he couldn’t take care of her, so he decided to leave her in a shop. David and Deborah didn’t want to see that happening, and Joselu offered to give her to them, so they’re now the proud “parents” of Pandora.
A little banter from Castilla: Álex tweeted, “on the way to Vigo! Reading a book! Game of Thrones! It’s great and my friend Álvaro Morata is also reading, although that would appear to be a lie…” In response, MFC tweeted back, “yes, I am reading a book, Soñar no es de locos as Álex said, it’s by one of my idols, Dani Martín.” And Fran Rico called MFC “mi niño.” How heartwarming.
It seems like Castilla is playing teams from Galicia every weekend, no? But as long as they keep this up, I don’t mind! Our filial won their fourth straight game and remained the highest scoring team in their division (with 26 goals) as they beat Celta B 2-0. MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín scored both goals for Castilla! The next rival is… Lugo – yes, another team from Galicia.
Iker’s predecessor in the Real Madrid goal Julio Iglesias told Radio Marca recently that “I’m a profound Mourinhista, because he’s passionate, because he’s a great motivator, and because despite this vehemence, he’s very vulnerable. I’m convinced that when he makes a mistake, his regret is very profound… I believe Mourinho is vulnerable and this vulnerability makes him very human.” He added that he has “great admiration” for Iker.
AS recently spoke with PSOE’s candidate for the position of prime minister of Spain (as I mentioned in an earlier ICYMI, the next PM of Spain will be a madridista, as the candidates from the two major parties vying in the upcoming election are both Madrid fans). Highlights from the interview with Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba:
on the picture of him and Paco Gento that appears on the web site of his candidacy: the photo was taken in the Colegio de El Pailar one day when they handed out awards to us. My admiration for Gento comes from a mix of madridismo and our Cantabrian roots.
on being a madridista: I’ve supported Real Madrid since the time I was small, at the age of six or seven. It was from my father, who was a madridista, although he wasn’t a fanatic. Who increased my love for Madrid was Jaime Lissavetzky, who has been a socio almost from the time he was born. I am also a socio.
on the first time he went to the Bernabéu: I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I do remember the deep impression that the stadium left in me, the brilliance of the grass and that white pit that surrounded the field at that time. In general, my first memories are those nights of European football.
on which he prefers: the ye-yés, La Quinta del Buitre, the Galácticos or the Mou Team: that’s difficult. I don’t have too many memories of the ye-yés. I do remember La Quinta del Buitre. The way they played football! I remember that when watching that team in the Bernabéu, if they scored less than four goals, everyone was disappointed. That team deserved to win the Champions League, what a shame that 0-0 draw in Eindhoven was, with so many failed occasions… it was psychological, that’s where La Quinta died. Of the Galácticos, I remember a couple of magnificent seasons. That team had a galáctico above all others, Zidane. Zidane was elegance, intelligence. In fact, if you ask me which Madrid player I’ve liked the best out of all the ones I’ve seen, I would probably say Zidane. I’ve seen him do extraordinary things and not just the famous goal of La Novena, also those roulettes, his vision of the game… The football of La Quinta del Buitre was great, but that of Zidane was beautiful.
One last thing.
I’m still a bit undecided on the future of this blog, as I know it will be hard for me to give it up despite a lack of desire to continue (as you can see, I kept collecting information for posts even though I hadn’t planned to post anything), and for all of you as well. When I get a chance, I’ll post something regarding all the feedback you’ve given me, and respond to all the emails I’ve received, and then we’ll see.