ICYMI – the alley edition
In case you missed it – Ponferradina vs. Real Madrid [2011-12-13, Copa del Rey round of 32 ida, 0-2].
There’s nothing like a win to help the healing process, no? (Not that I ever lost my optimism, despite the result this past weekend.) As José Callejón said at the conclusion of the game, “somos el Madrid y tenemos que salir a ganar siempre y cumplir el objetivo” (we are Madrid and we always have to go out to win and achieve our goal). That was exactly what Madrid did, leaving the Liga behind and putting themselves in a good position to move to the next round of the Copa del Rey in their defense of the title.
ONE. With Iker back in Madrid and Sergio on the bench, Marcelo started the game as captain. And with Xabi absent, Esteban Granero took over the posing. It’s a team effort!
TWO. Ponferradina may play in the Segunda B division, but they have fantastic fans, and a wonderful atmosphere at the stadium. This was the scene welcoming Madrid to El Toralín, a giant poster covering one end of the stadium that was inspired by Star Wars. The sign says, “in a region very close by, the republic of El Bierzo is facing the Empire, the white Empire, which during decades has reigned supreme in all corners of the universe, with players from another galaxy and attracted by the dark side of the sport.”
As you can see, Iker, Sergio, Cris, Mou and company are the bad guys, and Ponferradina’s players are of course the good guys. I love it!
Later on, when Cris came out of the game, he surprisingly enough got an ovation from about half of El Toralín, which made a nice change from the usual boos and death threats, and which showed these fans have class.
THREE. As the Iker-Sergio pairing was separated, we had Cris and Marcelo doing the pre-game hug and kiss. And Cris also chatted with his opponents while waiting for the game to begin, such as Borja Valle, whom Cris apparently recognized from a report that Cuatro did on Ponfe. After the game, Borja said that Cris was very nice, and revealed that he had gotten Cris’ shirt.
FOUR. Once again, José Callejón took advantage of the opportunity he had, scoring and trying to help others score.
I love his spirit.
Cris scored Madrid’s second goal, and his celebration was a bit more subdued, but I’m glad to see him back on track, since I hate seeing him sad.
But the best part of that goal celebration has to be the interaction between my favorite bromance of José and Gonzalo. They are so adorable together!
FIVE. After the game, Sergio tweeted this photo of him and Calleti, saying that José dedicated his goal to him. As José also made a sort of hand next to the ear gesture, which they are replicating here, does that mean that Sergio never hears José when he tells him “I love you”?
SIX. A couple of Cristiano moments: the look of utter concentration on his face before taking a free kick, and asking for a hug. Okay fine, he was actually complaining to the referee that he was fouled.
SEVEN. XIT got a bit of playing time – yay! Mesut was supposed to check in with him – he changed his shirt and everything – but when Raúl Albiol got sent off, the plans changed, and it was Sergio who got to go in. He, like Mesut, showed off a bit of skin while preparing to enter the game.
Here is that moment as a photo, since I know you’ll want it.
EIGHT. Poor Chori, he didn’t have the best night. First, the rain completely drenched him and made his shirt transparent (making it a good night for us), and then he got sent off. That sums up the game he had nicely.
NINE. Jesé made his long-awaited debut in an official game, coming in for Cristiano Ronaldo in the 78th minute. After the game, he said debuting was a “great satisfaction” and something he had dreamed about since he arrived at Real Madrid at the age of 13 (he’s now 18). Jesé also revealed what Mou had told him right before he checked in: “he told me to stay calm, to fight and to do the things I do with Castilla.” The canterano also said he thought about his family, his father and brother specifically, right before he went on, and that he saved his shirt from the debut, which his teammates signed on the plane ride back to Madrid.
TEN. I love my canteranos, despite their sometimes questionable hair.
ELEVEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
I’m sure Xabi was posing wherever he was, but unfortunately, it wasn’t in this game, so there are no images.
TWELVE. The Mou corner.
Before beginning his press conference, Mou thanked Ponferrada for the support they gave Madrid, saying, “I’d like to say that we played in a city with wonderful people who received us with a lot of affection and good manners. We played in a stadium with a party-like atmosphere and it’s a pleasure to play here and a pleasure to come here. For me, it has been a pleasure and this is the great thing about the Copa.”
He also had comments ono several other subjects. Mou slipped in a little attack on those people who had criticized him for using Pedro Mendes against Ajax, saying, “with the result in our favor, I decided to put Jesé in. Many people wanted to see him as a right fullback in Amsterdam.” He also praised José Callejón, saying, “each minute he plays, he does with motivation and I like his attitude very much.” Hopefully enough that he’ll consider using José more, no?
Mou also said that Benzema, Özil and Pepe would play the return leg at the Bernabéu on Dec. 20 because they are taking that game seriously, despite going in with an advantage, and that the South American players (Marcelo, Higuaín, Kaká and Di María) would not be playing in that game, as they will be allowed to start their vacations earlier than the rest of the team, since they’ll be making longer trips to go home for Christmas vacation.
THIRTEEN. Other notes.
Ponferradina’s Brazilian player Yuri said after the game that he exchanged his shirt with Kaká, and spoke to Mourinho for 10 minutes, after the latter came up to him after the game to say hi and to say that he hadn’t known that Yuri was playing here. The two had met in Portugal back in 2003-04, when Mou’s Oporto played Yuri’s Gil Vicente. In addition, Yuri also sang “Ai se eu te pego” for COPE, as it’s one of the songs constantly on play in the Ponfe dressing room (the other is Rihanna’s “We Found Love”). Have a listen here (the singing starts around the 4:30 mark); he also said he’ll sing it if he scores in the Bernabéu.
Madrid spent the hours prior to the game eating, listening to Mou’s chat, resting and meeting the fans.
The entire team plus José Mourinho left their hotel to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the fans who had congregated outside, despite a persistent rain. The team wanted to thank the fans in Ponferrada for the warm welcome they had received the previous night.
Both Sergio and Nuri were very accommodating, with Sergio acceding to posing with a baby (go ahead and take a break from this post to start fantasizing, I don’t mind), and Nuri leaning back to make sure that he would fit in a fan’s photo/self portrait.
Madrid returned to training on Wednesday, as they started preparations for this weekend’s Liga game against Sevilla.
Meanwhile, at Castilla, we got this adorable picture of MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín and Carva in the locker room.
And over in Hamburg, Ronaldo and Zizou combined with an all-star team to beat Hamburger 5-4, but the real winner was the people of Africa, as benefits from the Match Against Poverty are going to combat hunger in the Horn of Africa.
Ronie and Zizou’s team included many of their former teammates at Madrid, such as Míchel Salgado, Luis Figo, Fabio Cannavaro, Claude Makélélé, Fernando Hierro and Steve McManaman (El Macca!). Can you spot some of them here?