all set for Sevilla!
We found out yesterday that CSKA Moscow will be our rival in the round of 16 of the Champions League. Madrid will play the first leg on Feb. 21 in Moscow, with the second leg at the Bernabéu on March 14. But that’s not for another two months, and in the meantime, we have one more Liga game and one more Copa del Rey game before 2011 finishes. Tonight, Madrid faces Sevilla (22h). And Xabi prepared for it by doing what he does best, posing and being generally adorable. Oh yes, and there were the football drills as well.
The team held their last training session before today’s game against Sevilla, on Friday afternoon. In good news, 22 players from the first team trained (Carvalho remains the only real injured player), along with Jesús and Jorge Casado. Ángel di María returned to the team after missing out on the last session due the death of his father-in-law, meaning he had to make a trip back to Rosario. He had trained by himself on Thursday afternoon. While Marcelo, Gonzalo and Ángel joked around, others tried to fly.
In bad news, not all of the healthy players were called up for the game. Esteban Granero (why?) and Nuri Sahin missed out due to the coach’s decision. Ricardo Carvalho and Fábio Coentrão’s absences, meanwhile, were explained by injury (in Fábio’s case, a muscle injury to his right abductor).
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Pepe, Arbeloa, Varane, Marcelo, Albiol, Sergio Ramos.
Midfielders: Lass, Xabi Alonso, Di María, Altintop, Khedira, Özil, Callejón, Kaká.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
Mou spoke to the press before the training session. Highlights:
on how Madrid is doing: last year, we arrived at the end of the year two points behind the leader, and this year we can get to almost the halfway point of the championship with three or one more points than Barça, or be equal. In any of those three cases, we’re better than last year. If we have a problem, then rest of you have many more problems than us.
on Mesut Özil’s poor performances as of late: are you French or German? French? I thought you were going to ask me about Karim or Varane.
on 2011: in football, it’s difficult to evaluate by year, it’s better to do it by season. The evaluation of these six months of 2011 for the 2011-12 season is very good, very good, very close to 10. This gives us positive sensations for the second half of the season… We’re co-leaders of the Liga, we won all our games in the Champions and in the Copa we’ve played one game and we won it. That’s why the balance is very good. Let’s see if in tomorrow’s game we can get one point or three to end as the sole leaders.
He also said they don’t intend to sign anyone in the winter transfer market, and also lamented David Villa’s injury.
Following the training session, the
models team traveled by plane to Sevilla.
Once at the NH Central Convenciones hotel, Xabi Alonso and Antonio Adán came out to sign autographs and to pose with fans. Meanwhile, Sergio received a visit from his family, including his beloved niece Daniela.
That is one well-dressed kid! Maybe he decided to dress up as his idol Xabi Alonso to meet him, because can’t you totally see Xabi in an adult’s version of that outfit?
Iker, meanwhile, was busy posting every minute of the trip on his Facebook, from preparing in the locker room to scenes on the airport bus to having Cola Cao (and a donut). His iPhone must feel like the 1/! key on my Mac.
Speaking of obsessed with Facebook, what about Karim? He loves posting pictures of himself attempting to look sexy/cool/nonchalant, no? Unfortunately though, he usually fails.
Other news. On Sunday at 15h, there will be the traditional Christmas lunch for the football and basketball teams and the directors of the club. It will take place at the Bernabéu.
On Thursday, Sergio and his “bro” José Callejón headed to the Rihanna concert at the Palacio de Deportes. I wonder how much of the actual concert they understood? They were probably chatting away to each other all night anyway.
As for Castilla, they will be playing their last game of the year today at the EADS against Alcalá (18h), giving them a chance to go into the winter break as leaders. Captain Nacho will be sitting this one out, as he tweeted: “this Saturday, we have a game against Alcalá. I won’t be able to play since I was sent off last weekend. Goals: Nacho 2, Álex 0… I’m sorry brother.” Cute!
Earlier this week, on Thursday afternoon, Castilla and RMC had their traditional Christmas cocktail, which took place at the Ciudad Deportiva. Judging solely based on the video and photos provided by Madrid’s web site, the cocktail consisted of Castilla’s vice president Manuel Cerezo speaking, and the players looking bored. Álex, Nacho and Juanfran got into the holiday spirit by wearing red (check out Juanfran’s red pants). Plus, I knew that Tomás Mejías was the tallest player in the cantera, but he looked especially giant here.