all set for Atleti!
It’s a big weekend here in Madrid, with three exciting football games in six hours! First up, on Saturday at 18h, we have Rayo Vallecano vs. Valencia. Then at 20h, Real Madrid takes on Atleti at the Bernabéu, and then at 22h, Getafe plays Barcelona! Madrid will be looking to extend their 12-year non-losing streak against Atlético (since the 1999-2000 season, including the two years Atleti was in the second division), and another win would be a great birthday present for Xabi Alonso!
On Friday, Madrid trained for the last time before the derby, with the 21 available players plus Tomás Mejías participating. The two injured players are Kaká and Arbeloa (Mou said later that Kaká isn’t injured anymore, but still isn’t ready to play, and that he would rejoin the group next week). Marcelo once again trained with the team, as did Ángel di María; I guess all his hard work since he got injured has paid off, as it was the goal for him to reappear for the showdown in the capital. And though Ricardo Carvalho trained with his teammates, he was left off the call-up; everyone else made it.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Mejías.
Defenders: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Albiol, Coentrão.
Midfielders: Özil, Di María, Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Altintop, Callejón, Lass, Granero, Khedira.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
The next training session won’t be until Tuesday morning, so the team will have two days off.
With it being Xabi’s birthday today, he received the congratulations of his teammates during the session.
A couple of the boys also tweeted their birthday wishes for Xabi. Sergio wrote, “we all need a bit of the south (Camas) to see the north (Tolosa)” (that message comes from a Cruzcampo commercial). Xabi responded by writing “Thanks Kaiser.” Álvaro also tweeted, “today we have to congratulate the best midfielder in the world. Congratulations Xabi, 30 years old already, it’s nothing, friend.” And Esteban tweeted, “happy twenty-tenth birthday to the maestro Xabi Alonso. An example for me for many years now.” I loved how he phrased it! And Sergio’s very touchy, isn’t he? Xabi thanked everyone by tweeting in three languages.
In his press conference, Mou spoke about the difficulty of the upcoming game, saying, “if you say we can win 1-0 or 2-1, I’d accept right now… so what if they haven’t won for 12 years? They will win, perhaps tomorrow. If people think we’re going to beat them by three or four goals, they’re wrong.”
Mou also praised Xabi Alonso: “he’s a man, not a boy. I’ve already told him that since I’m going to coach for 30 more years, we’ll meet each other again as coaches. The truth is he feels good, strong and many times the biological age is important. He may be 30 years old, but he’s physically fine, he has confidence and he doesn’t have any pains. He’s strong. He’ll play again.”
Mou also clarified that Xabi won’t be provoking a yellow card. At the moment, he has accumulated four yellow cards, and if he forces one, or the referee judges he has forced one, he will be sanctioned with one game, in addition to the one he misses for receiving five yellow cards, which means that he will miss the next two against Sporting and Barcelona (he’ll also be fined €600). Mou also of course had to add, “Real Madrid’s players are the only ones that can’t force cards.”
The concentración started in the evening, much to Iker’s dismay, probably.
At the hotel, they celebrated Xabi’s birthday after dinner. (Ignore the creepy eyes.) Pepe and José looked like they were having a great time with each other, and I loved that the photographer captured the exact moment when Marcelo was looking down at his mobile phone. And that is the smallest cake in the world! But I guess eating big pieces of rich, creamy cake wouldn’t bode too well for them on Saturday night.
Other things: I forgot to write yesterday that the photoshoot Álvaro Arbeloa was doing with Sawyer, Mulder and Bauer (Bauer must have thought Álvaro’s face was a stone) was for Chocrón’s annual charity catalog (Xabi and Sergio have participated in previous editions). Other celebrities appearing in this year’s edition include madridista and tennis star Feliciano López, Iker’s favorite TV presenter (until he started dating Sara, I presume) Anne Igartiburu and Sergio’s favorite singer La Niña Pastori. Each one of them lent their image to the catalog in return for a donation to a charity of their choice.
Álvaro’s charity is the Fundación Virgen del Pueyo in Zaragoza. It helps children with physical or intellectual disabilities, especially problems with speech (that’s no surprise, given that Carlota has studied speech therapy, as she previously mentioned). The catalog will be presented on Nov. 29 at the Palacio de la Bolsa.
Sami Khedira and girlfriend Lena headed to the Caja Mágica on Thursday night to watch Real Madrid’s basketball take on Belgacom Spirou in the Euroleague. Madrid won 93-89, giving them their fourth victory in the tournament. The only negative note was Rudy’s knee injury. Sami likes taking his dates to basketball games, no?
Nuri Sahin had the following to say in an interview with Bild (which took place at the legendary Botín restaurant):
on whether he envies Cristiano Ronaldo: “envy” is not a word that exists in my vocabulary. Cristiano was the top scorer in Europe and he gave every one of us a replica of the trophy (the Golden Boot) as a gift. This gesture shows that Ronaldo is not arrogant in the least. This also applies to Iker, Ramos, Kaká…
on speaking with Mesut: we communicate in German and Turkish. Sometimes in one sentence, we jump back and forth between the languages three times.
on learning Spanish: I want to adapt quickly to the culture of Spain, I’m studying my fifth language (after Turkish, English, German and Dutch). I can’t just train and go home, that doesn’t work for me. I’ve already managed to give my first interviews in Spanish.
Speaking of Nuri, watch this video of Nuri Sahin as a ball boy in a Borussia Dortmund-Real Madrid game back in the day, when he asked Ronaldo for his shirt, but didn’t get it, as Ronaldo was obviously going to exchange it with one of Borussia Dortmund’s players. My heart goes out to young, adorable Nuri, because you can see he really wanted the shirt. Unfortunately for him, he didn’t have a club president to ask for one for him. I wonder if he can get one now…
The city hall of Móstoles has passed the proposal to rename the Avenida de los Deportes to the Avenida de Iker Casillas, to no one’s surprise. Although there has been an unwritten agreement in effect since the 1990s not to name any street after a living person, Móstoles Mayor Esteban Parro said this is a special case since there is so much social interest surrounding Iker for his achievements in football and for his values as a person. In any case, the avenue is commonly known as the “avenida de los campos Iker Casillas” (the avenue of the Iker Casillas football fields) because it passes through the center of Móstoles until the football fields named after our captain.
MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín posted this photo on twitter on Friday, saying, “Joselu has a new hair stylist, but it’s very difficult to make him look good… jajajajaja.”
I want to know what they were doing! And how adorable is it that members of Castilla seem to do everything together off the field, including vacations, studies, dinners and haircuts?
And a couple more pictures of past derbies in Marca, including a young Iker in 2000, a young Guti in 1999 (Juan Carlos Valerón remains one of the best players I’ve ever seen), as well as Iván Helguera and Álvaro Benito (in his rock star days, not his playing days).
Plus, we have Roberto Carlos and Juninho from 1999, when they lived next to each other, and apparently did laundry together.
I’m off to watch that adorable video of Javi (!!!), Ander and Iker Muniain again. I love “padre” Javi (!!!), picking things off Ander’s shirt and comparing him to a highway. And that Javi (!!!) knows how to say “beautiful girl” in Basque. The microphone needs to stay in Javi’s (!!!) hands.