all set for Málaga!
Hopefully we can start the new year in the same way we ended the last one – with a win in the Copa del Rey! Madrid takes on Málaga tonight (22h) in the first leg of the competition’s round of 16. I can’t wait to see how the Bernabéu will receive Ruud van Nistelrooy! We still have a lot of love and affection for him. And of course, for our team too, especially our little ray of sunshine!
On Monday afternoon, the team trained at the Bernabéu, in the second session of the year and the last one before tonight’s game against Málaga. Despite his earlier return, Ricardo Carvalho didn’t join his teammates for the session; instead, he worked out alone at Valdebebas in the morning and afternoon (Mou would say later on that he’s no longer injured, but that he’s been out for a long time, meaning that he needs to get back in shape). That, along with the continued absence of Sergio Ramos and Ángel di María due to injury, meant that only 20 footballers from the first team trained, along with Tomás Mejías.
Sergio, however, was also at the stadium, where he ran around the field with Carlos Lalín. Hopefully he’ll be fit by this weekend, for the game against Granada, especially as Pepe is suspended for that one.
All 21 of the healthy footballers were called up for the game.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Mejías.
Defenders: Arbeloa, Coentrão, Marcelo, Pepe, Varane, Albiol.
Midfielders: Lass, Khedira, Granero, Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Callejón, Altintop, Kaká.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
At his press conference, which took place before the training session, there were a few special “journalists” in the press room: Pepe, Marcelo and Fábio Coentrão. And sitting a few rows behind them were Silvino Lauro, Rui Faria and Aitor Karanka (Aitor’s cut out of the photo below, so here is another one). Unfortunately, none of them (dared to) asked any questions – I would have loved to see that happen!
During the press conference, Mou answered questions on the following subjects:
his desire for 2012: my desire? For me, I ask for good health, because we’re nothing without health, we’d be dead without good health. I ask for good health for me and for my people. And when I say my people, why not extend it to everyone? My people start with my family, then my friends. and then people I don’t know but who share this world with me and so I wish the exact same thing for them, for everyone to have good health. [Jajaja!!!!] I’m not asking for anything in terms of football.
on the winter transfer market and Madrid’s reported interest in certain players: I don’t want any new players. I said it but you all don’t believe me… I would like to start and end the season with the same players. We started off together, and I would like for all of us to end together. They know this, the directors as well. But until Jan. 31, everything is open, even though I say and I’ve repeated that I haven’t asked for anyone and I have it very clear that I don’t want anyone to leave. That’s because there’s only a few of us: 21 plus the goalkeepers and that’s what I consider a balanced number to play in the three competitions that we’re in.
Probably more of Mou than you’ve ever wanted to see…
on rotations: against Ponferradina, I didn’t give any opportunities to anyone, because I wanted to pass that round. I have created two teams so that the same players won’t play all the games. It’s the same now. The idea is to rotate, to create strong and balanced teams. Sahin will for sure get minutes. I know who will play tomorrow, but the players don’t know, so I’m not going to say.
on José Callejón: I consider him a boy that spent several years outside of Madrid, and so he should have felt what it’s like to be here and what it’s like to be outside of here. He knows how to value better than others what it means to leave Madrid and he views each minute as a very important thing. He was here, he left and he came back, and I don’t think he’ll be leaving again. My feeling is that he wants to stay here for as long as possible. For some players, and I’m not talking about anyone in particular, coming off the bench and playing 10 minutes is a problem, but for him, coming off the bench and playing 10 minutes is fantastic. He’s always ready to play and that’s why he has more possibilities to play as a starter. He’s working with tranquility and humility. He respects his teammates and they respect him. I really like his mentality, and I think he is a good player for Real Madrid.
Wow, that is a lot of praise for Calleti! Mou also refused to answer any more questions on what he said to the BBC, explaining, “I don’t want to add to your (the media’s) stories.”
Following the training session, the team began their concentración, which started with Iker taking this photo of him, Kaká and Tomy, adding this caption when he posted it on his Facebook: “Kaká has told me that he’s not leaving, that he’s going to stay here with us!” Yay!
Going backwards, on Sunday afternoon, Madrid completed their first training session of the year. They started off with hugs for the new year. Nacho, MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín and Tomás Mejías joined 21 footballers from the first team for the session (Sergio and Ángel are the injured ones), which started with stretching and ended with ball exercises. I love how Marcelo had to stand up on tiptoes to give ABMM a hug, as well as how Tomy teased ABMM, and how Xabi can even make warming up interesting.
Your dose of sunshine for Sunday….
As you can see, everyone was happy to be back.
Going back even further, to the New Year, it looks like the Arbeloa and Callejón families spent it together! Meanwhile, Sergio was in Sevilla with his family, and Iker was in Navalacruz, with his lifelong friends and girlfriend Sara! Despite being over 600 kilometers apart, Sergio and Iker somehow managed to dress alike.
Karim wished us a Happy New Year alongside his younger brother, Gressy.
And the third edition of the Torneo de Fútbol 7 Benjamín, organized by Mejorada del Campo’s football school and Antonio Adán, will take place this Sunday, at the La Dehesa football complex. Antonio’s team from Mejorada del Campo will participate, as well as Real Madrid and Los Piratas de Granero! I love kiddie football. Last year, Sergio Canales showed up to support his teammates, and I can see Calleti doing the same this year.