all set for Granada!
You know, I think I would like to buy a house on the Avenida de Iker Casillas in Móstoles, just so that can be part of my address, but I doubt I’ll have any money left after the rebajas… Anyway, enough of my random thoughts, we have a game tonight, against Granada (20h), and hopefully we can consolidate our position at the top of the table!
By the way, have I said lately how much I absolutely adore our boys? Look at the interaction between Marcelo and Calleti! Between Marcelo, Cris and Nuri! Between Marcelo and MFC ABMM! It may be cold in Madrid now, but at least it’s always sunny for us Madrid fans, no?
Close to 7,000 people showed up for Friday’s training session at the EADS, with the earliest arriving at o4h in the morning to ensure that they would get a seat! Madrid’s web site reported that the fans not only came from Madrid, but also from all over Spain – Ávila, Córdoba, Valencia, Barcelona, Gijón, Salamanca, Segovia… the lines were therefore, and not surprisingly, super long.
The fans watched the team in their last training session before the game. They got to see 20 players from the first team train (Di María, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão were absent, though the latter is not injured), plus four Castilla players (Dani Carvajal, Nacho, MFC ABMM and Jesús). Plus, they got to watch a mini-game, which finalized the session.
But that wasn’t all, because at the end of the session, the players went up to the stands to sign autographs and give away their sweatshirts, shirts, vests, hats and other articles of clothing. Several other players also sent balls into the stands. They need to have open training sessions in the summer, so that our boys will only be wearing a shirt and nothing else, and so when they take off their shirt to give away….
The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Eighteen footballers were called up for the game, including one from Castilla, Jesús (a nice present for Jesús from the Three Kings, no?). Álvaro Arbeloa and Fábio Coentrão were left off the list due to the coach’s decision (I guess they received coal), leaving only four defenders. “Arbeloa y Coentrão” became a twitter TT in Spain shortly after, and the media is rife with rumors that Mou is punishing the former for coming back from Christmas vacation out of shape, and the latter for not being too punctual.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Varane, Albiol.
Midfielders: Lass, Khedira, Granero, Sahin, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Callejón, Altintop, Kaká.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
Speaking of presents from los Reyes Magos, ABMM asked for “goals and to be in Madrid for a long time” (love this), while Esteban Granero tweeted this photo of this vintage Underwood typewriter, and wrote, “thank you, your majesties.” It is so Esteban, no? If it’s still functioning, I can imagine him sitting at a desk, pecking away at the keys and writing his novel on this typewriter…
Looking ahead to the game, a breakdown between Real Madrid and Granada, courtesy of Marca. Madrid has 96,000 socios and 2,120 peñas, while Granada has 15,000 and 23, respectively. Madrid’s budget is €500 million, Granada’s is €30 million. Madrid’s most expensive player in terms of transfer fee (and also the world’s most expensive player) is Cristiano Ronaldo (€96 million), Granada’s is Pape Diakhaté (€4.5 million). The highest paid players on Madrid earn €10 million (Cris and Kaká), while the highest salary on Granada is €1.3 million, which is what Carlos Martins receives. Madrid has 73 titles, while Granada is a one-time finalist in the Copa (1959).
Plus, I can’t wait to see Fran Rico! But when I imagined seeing him play at the Bernabéu, it wasn’t for the opposing team…
As is habitual on days before games, José Mourinho spoke to the press. In response to a question about PSG’s supposed interest in Kaká, Mou said, “I’m counting on Kaká until June and for next season.” When asked what he thinks about the repercussion of his words on the players’ Christmas vacations, Mou responded, “my words had repercussions for you (the journalist who asked the question) and the other journalists. For the fans, what matters was that the team was losing against Málaga and then they made a comeback, and that’s the most important thing for them.” Jajajaja!!!!! He also said the players “are intelligent, not small children who need you to tell them what to do.”
When queried about the IFFHS naming Pep Guardiola as the best coach, Mou had this to say: “the award is deserved, deserved, I only hope that Pep won’t have to wait as long to receive his award as I did, because I won it in 2010 and I still haven’t received it. But he absolutely deserved it.” And I loved Mou’s ironic response to the question, “was the bad performance in the first half against Málaga due to a lack of concentration, or more profound problems?” Mou answered, “we have very, very profound problems: 19 or 20 wins and one loss. Yes, we have very, very profound problems. Imagine what other teams are like…” He’s been a quote machine these past few days, hasn’t he?
And Madrid’s web site reminds us that today is the the fifth anniversary of Marcelo’s debut as a Real Madrid player (five years of sunshine!). Five years ago, on Jan. 7, 2007, Marcelino debuted against Deportivo at the Riazor (a game which Madrid lost, 0-2). Five years later (though he doesn’t look older at all), he’s become one of the best fullbacks in the world, as well as our third captain! And he’s only 23! Against Granada, Marcelo will be playing in his 186th game as a madridista.
I sort of expected Marcelo’s smile to have that sparkle or glint as well…
When asked to look back on his debut, Marcelo reflected, “I remember that it was the second half and I was warming up with Ronaldo. It was a very special day for me because I debuted with Madrid, coming in for Míchel Salgado. I will never forget that moment. I was very young when I debuted with Madrid, my entire family was watching the game and it was incredible.” As for his first goal with Madrid, against Sporting on Feb. 15, 2009, “I dedicated the goal to my son, who was on the way, and to my entire family.”
Marca also gave us this picture of Marcelo during the trip to A Coruña. I’m including it just for Pipita’s hair. Both he and Marcelo have experienced drastic changes in their hairstyles over these five years, no? By the way, in a couple of days, it will be the five year anniversary of Gonzalo’s debut with Madrid (Jan. 11, 2007, against Betis in the Copa del Rey).
And be sure to check out a highlights video here; unfortunately, neither the “crab” celebration nor the “asking for water” celebration made the cut.