ICYMI – the family edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Ponferradina [2011-12-20, Copa del Rey round of 32 vuelta, 5-1].
Our boys gave us a lovely early Christmas present, ending the year with a win over Ponfe to move on to the Copa del Rey round of 16. Besides the win, I loved the family atmosphere at the Bernabéu on Tuesday, not only the camaraderie between our players and their nice gestures, but also the fraternity between our team and the rival.
ONE. This is the family edition, so let’s start with the twins! I mentioned this before, but Jorge Casado and Nuri Sahin look a lot alike, no?
TWO. Despite not being called up for this game, Iker still went to the stadium to support his teammates, like a good captain (or father, to fit with the theme of this ICYMI). And when Ponferradina’s team spotted him, they wanted to take a picture with him! Plus, it looks like his inseparable companion has gone from being his purse to being his iPhone. I think everyone is grateful for that.
THREE. Also prior to the game, we had Pepe giving his practice shirt away to a fan holding up a sign that said, “Pepe, I want your shirt.” Is it that easy? And like any good fangirl (especially those with Sergio Ramos as the object of their adoration), she smelled the shirt after. Meanwhile, Mou – yes, Mou! – was busy fooling around with José Morais. This is unusual! Maybe the Christmas spirit has infected him…
FOUR. Pepe made his debut as captain, in his fifth year with Madrid. He said it felt strange playing the part during the greeting of the other team and the photo with the refs. After the game, he said he was very proud: “I’m very happy to have been the captain and to achieve the win. This is the best club in the world and I’m thrilled about this.” Pepe is also the first Portuguese player to start the game as captain of Madrid (Luis Figo never did it). At one point, the stadium sang his name (the first time ever) and Pepe later said that gave him goosebumps.
I loved that there were four canteranos, including one “little brother,” in the starting line-up. So, it was fitting that Pepe was the captain, as he’s the cantera’s biggest cheerleader, along with Marcelo.
Coincidentally enough, Ponfe’s captain is also named Pepe. It would have been nice for him to have gotten Pepe’s shirt after the game, but he got Hamit Altintop’s instead.
FIVE. Five goals on the night – they’re spoiling us! I was happy to see José score of course, as well as Nuri, as he really needed that for his confidence.
Rafa Varane – ¡qué listo!
Pepe, as a good captain, was in the midst of all the celebrations. And I have to say, Ponfe scored a golazo as well, and I’m happy that they scored at least one against Madrid (sorry, Antonio) so that they can always have that memory.
The José-Joselu connection works really well, no?
¡Orgullosa de ser madridista!
SIX. Three words: Karim Benzema’s eyelashes.
SEVEN. Nuri Sahin dedicated his goal to his son (presumably) and looked much more relaxed as the second half began, as he probably felt a lot less pressure on him after scoring.
EIGHT. Jorge Casado made his debut with the first team, and even started the game (he’s the only canterano, along with Nacho Fernández, to have debuted as a starter in the Mou era). After the game, he said it was the happiest day of his life (he also tweeted that). He also revealed that from the time the míster had said that he would be debuting, he had been very nervous, but once on the field, he felt good, as “my teammates helped me and talked to me.”
Fernando Pacheco was the other debutant of the night. He said, “I’ve waited for this moment since I was small and I’m very happy because it’s impressive to debut in a stadium like this one. The míster told me to stay calm and to do what I know” (it seems that’s what Mou tells every debutant, no? But it’s good advice).
NINE. Speaking of canteranos, Joselu heard the Bernabéu sing his name after his goal. He said, “that gives you goosebumps. In that moment, you’re focused on the game and the only thing you’re thinking about is doing things well. But later on when you see repeats at home, you still get goosebumps.”
I loved that all three substitutes were canteranos – Nacho, Joselu and Pacheco. And out of the three players they replaced, two were from the cantera – Casado and Adán. However, out of the 14 canteranos that have debuted under Mou, only five have played more than 20 minutes, which means that there still isn’t a lot of faith in the cantera.
TEN. Post-game declarations: Pepe said after the game, “we played with humility, we respected Ponferradina and we worked very well. It’s positive for the club to have canteranos debut; hopefully they will triumph. Every Madrid fan is happy, we’ll have a tranquil Christmas and in January we will return to work hard and fight for everything.”
ELEVEN. I think my favorite moment occurred after the game. First, there was the heartwarming scene of Mou standing on the sidelines, offering his hand to all of Ponferradina’s players as they walked by to congratulate them on their game. Mou had done the same in the ida game, only that time he waited in the tunnel for them.
Then Dani Carril, one of the Ponferradina players, came up to Mou and whispered something to him. It turns out that he had asked Mou for the vest he was wearing! Mou took it off immediately and gave it to Dani. What an original idea, and what a fun souvenir to get! I wonder if others will start doing it now…
Dani said after the game that he had tried to exchange his shirt with one of the players, but everyone had already promised their shirts to his teammates, so he screwed up his courage and asked Mou for his vest. He also said that the idea just came to him spontaneously, once he found out that all of the Madrid players’ shirts had already been promised away. Dani also said that Mou have behaved very nicely towards his team, that he had congratulated them on the game and that he invited them into Madrid’s locker room so that they could get to know the Madrid players and exchange shirts during the first leg game at El Toralín. He gave Mou a “10” for the night, saying, “he seems to be the type of person that won’t give you the time of day, and he turns out to be the friendliest of them all.” I love that statement!
As for the other shirts, I already mentioned that Ponfe’s Pepe got Altintop’s shirt. Yuri ended up with (Madrid) Pepe’s shirt, as they’re family – Pepe’s mother is a cousin of Yuri’s father. Other players got Nacho, Rafa and Fábio’s, as we can see below. And Luis Doménech came away with a Madrid polo signed by Karim Benzema, “for my girlfriend, as she likes Benzema a lot and today is her birthday.” Karim even personalized it; you can see that it reads “for Marta…” Karim’s game shirt went to Samuel, who “reserved” it at the half, knowing that demand would be high after the game. I think it’s so sweet that they all wanted the shirts so badly, and it’s so heartwarming to see how happy they were once they got them!
TWELVE. Some scenes of Ponfe’s players before the game. They were super excited to be playing in the Bernabéu, and spent several minutes taking pictures and immortalizing the moment. And I loved the moment when they saw the palco where Cristiano’s family sits, and one of them explained to his teammates that gesture that Cris always dedicates to his son! It warms my heart to see how excited these players were; I love the Copa del Rey for bringing moments like these.
THIRTEEN. The Xabi Alonso-in-training pose section.™
FOURTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
The picture of Xabi on the bench, along with this Instagram photo that he tweeted of his feet and the view of the Cuatro Torres from the hotel, were the only glimpses of Xabi we got.
FIFTEEN. However, it didn’t matter. As mentioned previously, we had Xabi-in-training, aka Esteban Granero. And if his poses from the game look familiar to you, well, it’s because you’ve seen them all before!
SIXTEEN. The Mou corner.
After the game, Mou said, “I was happy to be able to let Pacheco and Casado debut. It’s always a lot of pressure to play your first minutes with the first team, but Casado did well.” He also described José Callejón as “a player with a very strong personality who is doing things very well” and said he liked him as a footballer and also the way he works (Mou also said whoever worked with him at Espanyol had done a good job). As for the game, Mou praised his team for “making it worthwhile for the fans to come to the Bernabéu.” He also said the game was good for Nuri Sahin’s confidence, and praised Ponfe as “a great team who left here with the applause and the respect of the people.” Yes, indeed.
SEVENTEEN. Notes and tweets.
The team won’t be back in training until the afternoon of Dec. 29, giving them nine days of vacation, with the players who weren’t called up for this game receiving a couple more.
Iker posted this photo of him and Esteban Granero before the game.
Meanwhile, Xabi was once again shocked by the season finale of Dexter, while Álvaro Arbeloa got his wisdom teeth pulled out, without anesthesia, “like a good Spartan” (although Carlota tells us that might not be true). And Joselu used Jorge Casado to tweet his thanks to everyone. Jorge ended the message with “Merry Christmas to everyone!! Be happy!!”
In Castilla news, Álex has been suspended for two games for getting sent off against Alcalá, while MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín has received a one game suspension for his sending off. Meanwhile, the Competition Committee reversed the second yellow card against Peter Mendes, who had gotten carded for a foul COMMITTED BY JESÉ. In this way, his expulsion has been annulled.