all set for Sporting!
Madrid takes on Sporting de Gijón tonight (18h) in jornada 15 of the Liga at El Molinón, where the famous phrase “así, así, así, así gana el Madrid” was born (which we Madrid fans have subsequently and ingeniously adopted). Sporting is one of three teams that Cristiano has not scored on in the Liga, so he has a challenge tonight (the other two are Betis and Levante, though he has scored against Levante in the Copa).
The last training session (if you can even call it that) before the game was held on Friday afternoon, with 20 players plus Tomás Mejías participating. It appeared to be divided into four segments. The first was the affection part, with Marcelo and Cris making hearts with their hands, and Marcelo jumping into Nuri Sahin’s arms and Kaká making it a three-person hug. Look to the right: even Lass – yes, Lass! – joined in the fun. It must be very, very fun then.
The next segment was dedicated to making Iker laugh. José Callejón and Esteban Granero passed with flying colors.
Then came the mock fighting, the karate kicks and the shoving. Two of our players appeared to be at the center of every incident: Marcelo and Gonzalo Higuaín, though Kaká, shedding his good boy image, also partook in the fun. Ángel looks like he wanted to join in, but was too timid.
And lastly, there were the tackles in the rondos that left players on the ground and others piling on top of them for a hug, as we can see with Gonzalo & José and Sergio & Raúl Albiol. Gonzalo couldn’t resist the opportunity to get another kick in.
Seriously, this is a training session? Look at how much fun our boys had, and how handsome they looked while doing so! And all this happened in the first 15 minutes! I guess they get more serious when the eyes of the press are no longer on them.
Xabi Alonso had permission from the club to miss the session (since he can’t play in the game), giving him a two-day break. Ricardo Carvalho and Álvaro Arbeloa were the absences, as both are still injured. As Iker wrote on his Facebook, “the iron man appears to be made of lead…”
The list of players called up were those 21 players who had taken part in the session. Xabi is serving a one-game suspension due to too many yellow cards. Also of note: Kaká’s return – yay! He’s been out since injuring his right leg against Real Sociedad on Oct. 29.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Mejías.
Defenders: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Albiol, Coentrão.
Midfielders: Kaká, Özil, Di María, Sahin, Altintop, Callejón, Lass, Granero, Khedira.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
The players also hung out at Valdebebas before traveling to Gijón, watching the Eurocopa draw, chatting with Ricardo Carvalho (I love where Gonzalo’s hand is, and someone took the photo before Iker was ready, no?)…
… checking their phones and having a little snack. I really love the gray sweaters. Everyone looks fantastic in them.
In his press conference (held before the training session and the announcement of the call-up), Mou spoke about several of the players, saying Kaká is ready to play again, although he won’t start the game, that Arbeloa is not ready yet and that Carvalho will be out for two more weeks.
I loved Mou’s answer when he was asked for his opinion about Gerard Piqué’s yellow card against Rayo Vallecano and the subsequent one-game sanction: “I won’t assess it because my opinion is not important. For me, the opinion of judges and authorized figures in the sport and in law such as Platini, Blatter, Collina or you all the press is much more interesting. My opinion counts for nothing. I don’t want to hear any more questions about this issue.”
Following the session, the team traveled to Asturias, to Gijón. After arriving – and looking like models while doing so despite the absence of Xabi Alonso – they headed to their hotel, the Palacio de la Llorea.
Friday was a very busy day for Sergio’s hands. No, not in the way you’re thinking. It’s because in every photo he’s in, his hands are busy posing as well.
Our two Argentines were present for the habitual fan session, signing autographs and posing for pictures. I wonder if Gonzalo and Ángel have become closer this season, as both lost their better halves (Eze Garay and Fernando Gago, respectively) at the beginning of the season?
Over in Castilla, it was movie night, with Nacho, Álex, Denis, Dani Carvajal, Jorge Casado, Lucas, Joselu (aka Selu, making it a nickname of a nickname!), Pablo Gil and Pablo Sarabia getting together to watch Fuga de cerebros 2 (it came out on Friday). The players also had dinner together, and I love the fact that Pablo Sarabia was there, despite changing teams this summer! Nacho gave us this picture; they need get an app to make their eyes normal because it’s slightly creepy.
And Denis tweeted this photo of one of his teammates the other day, saying he won’t make it to the next game. He asked us to guess who it was, only giving us the clue that this player is on twitter. It turns out that it’s Álex! The very pale skin sort of gave it away, no?
And why are there random things in the locker room, such as a wheelchair? Last season, I was left wondering about the shopping cart which, as you can see, is still around… (the other day, the police in Madrid arrested a man who had stolen 3,000 shopping carts from various stores in Madrid over the course of one year to sell them at a hefty profit. Maybe he has an accomplice).
BONUS: look what Spain’s Davis Cup team has as good luck charms in their locker room! There’s a signed jersey from Sergio, a signed jersey from Iker and a signed jersey from Miguel Torres! Three of the four members of the team are madridistas: Rafa Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Feli López. David Ferrer is a fan of Valencia and Barcelona, while Marcel Granollers supports Espanyol. ¡Mucha suerte chicos! I can’t wait to see Spain win another salad bowl!