all set for Barcelona!
Our next game is just one more game that we’ll have to play on the road to winning the Liga this season. With that said, it does bring the excitement that a clásico always conjures up, despite this one being the seventh of the year (previously, in 2011, we had one in the Liga, two in the Champions, one in the Copa del Rey and two in the Supercopa). As Álvaro Arbeloa tweeted this morning, “Cabalgamos JUNTOS. Morimos JUNTOS. Madridistas para SIEMPRE.. ¡¡Jugad con nosotros!! ¡¡¡¡¡¡¡HALA MADRID!!!!!!!” This perfectly sums up what I’m feeling right now, and what needs to happen at the Bernabéu (22h) tonight.
And winning would be a great birthday present for “Pipeta,” no?
This morning, the players had breakfast at 10h, then headed to Valdebebas for a light stretching session. After completing the session, they returned to the hotel, where they’ll remain until it’s time to go to the best stadium in the world!
Previously, Madrid had trained on Thursday afternoon, with the 22 available players from the first team (Ricardo Carvalho remains the only injured player) plus Antonio Martínez and Jesús from Castilla working out together. Marcelo trained normally, showing that he’s recovered from the injury sustained last weekend against Sporting. Zidane was at the session, which was full of smiles.
The team trained again on Friday morning, behind closed doors. Following the session, the list of players called up for the game was released. All 22 of the healthy players were called up, in addition to Jesús.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Marcelo, Albiol, Arbeloa, Coentrão.
Midfielders: Kaká, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Di María, Sahin, Altintop, Callejón, Lass, Granero, Khedira.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
Aitor Karanka spoke to the press on Friday afternoon. Highlights:
on how they’ll play the game: we face all the games in the same way. Although it’s true that it’s a different game, in reality it’s one more game and our way of looking at things won’t change. It’s true that this is our direct rival, but there’s no need to change anything, it’s three more points that won’t change anything. It’s clear that if tomorrow we win it will be better, but once again, that won’t change the way we work.
on the system they’ll use: we’re going to play with a 4-3-3, with Cristiano and Di María on the wings and Pipa or Karim. We have the options of Mesut, Kaká, Khedira, Lass, Alonso for the midfield… there are various options and that’s important. There are three points at stake and we have to go out to win them just as we do in the rest of the games, because all of the games are important. Winning tomorrow or in the Camp Nou won’t mean anything if later on you drop points at other fields. Last year we lost points in Pamplona, in A Coruña, which in the end mattered.
on Carvalho: the important thing is for him to recover. He’s a veteran and important in the locker room. He’s not any less important because he’s not playing.
on why he was speaking to the press instead of Mou: I’ve spoken in more than 30 press conferences and I answered the question of why Mourinho is not here the first time. I’ve known the míster for a year and a half and he doesn’t need to tell me what to say to el madridismo.
Of course, the pro-Barcelona media outlets interpreted this as Mou hiding.
The concentración started that evening, at the Bernabéu after the players had eaten dinner at home. Hopefully, Álvaro Arbeloa was setting up Raúl Albiol’s twitter account (see below) at that precise moment the photograph was taken. Anyway, they had a technical chat there before heading to the Mirasierra Suites.
José Callejón showed up in an interesting outfit, (unsuccessfully) combining denim and leather. I can totally see Sergio in a similar outfit, though I hope this won’t give him any ideas.
Fabio Cannavaro visited the team at their hotel, and his former teammates (unfortunately, there are very few of them left, those who had the chance to play with Canna) were happy to see him, and immortalized the moment with their cameras. Fabio told COPE later on that he’s happy to be back in Spain, that he’s having a great time in Dubai, and that he was excited to see him teammates such as Iker and Pepe, because he’s missed them. He ended with an “¡Hala Madrid!” By the way, his Spanish is still very good!
Other news: Rui Faria has been suspended for two games as a result of being sent off in the Sporting game. In addition, the Competition Committee of the RFEF decided to fine Faria €600 and the club €180.
Vicente del Bosque will be at the Bernabéu on Saturday, as the majority of the players he coaches will be on the field. He said it won’t be an issue for him to be back in what was his home for many years, since “my problems with Real Madrid are a personal issue. Of course I will greet Florentino Pérez if I see him.” He also added that he hopes to see “both teams offering a good image.”
Our boys’ favorite social networks gave us some gems on Thursday. Álvaro Arbeloa tweeted that “Real Madrid CF is pleased to announce that from today, there is a new captain, who was chosen unanimously by the team.” That’s cute, but I’m strangely fascinated by the fact that each locker has personalized hangers, and that the tape they made the “armband” out of appears to still be at the scene of the crime.
Alvarito also tweeted this picture of Raúl Albiol, with the words “coming soon to twitter…” I can’t wait! Seeing how attached El Chori is to his phone (he can’t even let go of it for a massage?), I’m hoping he will be tweeting a lot, especially about the adventures of Zipi and Zape…
Iker posted this photo of him and Ricardo Carvalho, the two oldest players on the team, in the gym. Iker needs some longer scarves. And I love how we’re getting glimpses of places that are usually off limits.
As for Sergio, he shared with us this picture of him celebrating the birthday of his old man (his father), adding “I love you.” As we can see, the four men of the Ramos family (Sergio, brother René, brother-in-law Carlos and father José María) were present, as was a friend that according to Sergio, came up to Madrid (presumably from Sevilla) for the clásico.
Meanwhile, Álex opened himself up to a Q&A session via twitter. We found out that the last book he read is A Game of Thrones (also his favorite TV show), and that his favorite book is Federico Moccia’s I Want You. His best memory is his debut, while the worst is an injury that caused him to miss a World Cup. And his reference on the first team is none other than Xabi Alonso. I loved that Dani Carvajal and MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín decided to submit questions. Carva tweeted, “Álex, how do you feel about having scored less goals than me? Jaja, I love you brother.” Álex actually decided to respond, tweeting, “jajajaja, I’ll surpass you soon!!!” Meanwhile, MFC’s question was “Hi Álex. How do you feel about being the ugliest guy on Real Madrid Castilla? Jajajajajajajaja, answer please.” I love it!