the round-up: Barcelona II
Reasons to be optimistic: Madrid played very well during their Copa del Rey round of eight vuelta game against Barcelona, and Xabi looked fantastic. Hopefully, this game signals the beginning of a new cycle and the end of an old one, no? (For Madrid in terms of how they play, not Xabi because he will never, ever disappoint in the area of posing.)
Jan. 23 – training.
Iker took to FB to write about his 600 games with Madrid, accompanying his post with a picture of a Seat 600 car. He wrote, “in my case, when one looks back on the road walked on, he only has words of gratitude for all those persons that he met. It has been (for now) more than 12 years and I have to confess that I’ve experienced passionate moments. There were some that weren’t as passionate, but those great days made up for the bad ones. The day that I debuted when I was barely 18, my first Champions League, my first Liga, the Eurocopa, the World Cup, working to become the best one day and achieving that four consecutive times, etc… Thank you to everyone for all that, for the long road that I have left to walk and for all the people that I’ll meet on this road, because I’ve met you all on this road…”
The team trained in their first session of the week, with 17 footballers present, plus Jesús from Castilla. Khedira and Di María were absent due to injury, while Pepe, Granero and Lass worked out inside. Sergio was absent from the session with the permission of the club for personal reasons.
Pedro Mosquera had his first training session with Castilla since returning, and made clear that his goal is to help the team get promoted to the second division.
Speaking of canteranos, Liga BBVA spoke with Calleti number 2, José’s twin Juanmi, who is currently playing at Hércules. In the video, we find out that the twins are eight minutes apart. In general though, they speak, look and dress alike (it’s no wonder that they have a “feeling especial” with each other, as Juanmi describes it), although I think Juanmi’s voice is a bit less squeaky, and his hair is a bit shorter. He also reveals that when they were younger and alone in Madrid, when one would cry, the other would start, because they missed their family. Awwww!
And Athletic trained at field 7 of Valdebebas in an open training session (they had decided to stay in Madrid following the game to prepare for their Copa del Rey match against Mallorca in the capital, and travel to Palma from there)! Javi Martínez (!!!) gave a press conference alongside one of his teammates (Gorka Iraizoz, in case you were wondering) at the team hotel later that afternoon.
Jan. 24 – all set for Barcelona.
Madrid trained again, with Sergio Ramos rejoining the group, making it 18 players from the first team (the absences were the same as the previous day) plus canteranos Jesús, Parla, Payá, Dani Súarez, Kamal and Señé.
Mou gave a press conference, subsequently described as his most “serious” one, as he was on the defensive, didn’t give explanations, avoided commenting about any controversial issues and refused to reveal the line-up for the game. Here’s how it started. (By the way, he was back to wearing Madrid clothing, in case you are keeping track.)
A few days ago, we said on Punto Pelota that you had decided to leave Madrid on June 30. One of my co-workers announced it. Did I say it? Ask your co-worker.
You usually achieve titles with the teams you coach. In Madrid, you’ve won one. Are you going to stay with Madrid until you win a Champions League or until you beat Barcelona? I don’t know.
Why do you believe you’ve lost the favor of the public? I don’t know. You have to ask the people, not me.
How are you planning the game to try and make a comeback? I have no idea.
The filtrations from the locker room is hurting you and the team. Do you believe the end goal is to get you to leave Real Madrid? I don’t know anything about this. I don’t know anything about the filtrations.
In a video published by the web site, most likely to try and defuse all the rumors that have been swirling around the team for the last few days, Iker and Sergio, the first and second captains, respectively, spoke about the unity between the players and the coaching staff. Iker said the group is very united, that the atmosphere is great, and there’s nothing to worry about. Meanwhile, Sergio affirmed that the group is more united than ever, the relationship with the coach has always been good, and that Mourinho is the ideal coach for this club. Neither said anything surprising, and so it was not a very interesting interview. We need the third and fourth captains to bring a little sparkle and sunshine to these things. And some unscripted moments. These are the times when I really miss Guti.
And Sergio also used twitter to say that it’s time to shut the book on that supposed infiltration. He tweeted, “I think the mole or moles should be better informed (although it’s lamentable that this happened). Throughout my career, I’ve never disrespected a coach. With this, what I want to do is deny some things that were said about me that I never said. I finish with this. The míster and I fight for the same interests and along with the entire team, we will fight to the death. Hala Madrid!”
Meanwhile, Athletic trained at Valdebebas again! Why can’t they move there permanently?
Jan. 25 – Barcelona vs. Real Madrid.
Madrid mixed things up, training and traveling on game day, as well as revealing the list of players called up. The players had a light training session in the morning. Mou called up basically everyone for the game except the injured players (Sami and Ángel), including suspended players, and threw Jesús into the mix. Following the session, the team traveled to Barcelona, arriving after noon and heading for the Juan Carlos I hotel. They all looked very optimistic as they headed out of Valdebebas, no?
Yay, Zizou came along!
The smiles were still on their faces as they arrived in Barcelona.
As for the game, we did play better than the last time against Barcelona, which is good news. Anyway, here are a couple of the photos and moments I liked from this game.
In the tunnel, we had Sergio and Iker doing their customary kiss, while several of the La Roja players also greeted each other. Sergio went over to hug Xavi, Busquets and Piqué, Pedro went up to Sergio and Iker, Arbeloa and Iniesta hugged, and Busquets, Piqué, Cesc and Thiago all hugged their national team captain. Esteban Granero also went up to Iniesta to say hi.
A couple of fun photos: fan-shaped Madrid, the solitude of a goalkeeper…
… and a study in complaining.
Our boys looked gorgeous as they warmed up (that hair is incredible!), and Cris once again did his fish lips move.
Sergio found himself sent off, but the moment wasn’t too bad, as he decided to walk off the field with his shirt halfway lifted up, flashing us those impressive abs. As he came off the field, Mou went up to him and whispered something in his ear for a good few seconds. The media and fans subsequently went crazy trying to figure out what words were exchanged.
Tabloid El Mundo Deportivo reported that José Mourinho hung around the parking lot after the game, waiting for the referee, Fernando Teixeira Vitienes, to come to his car. They provided the photo below as evidence, although they were not able to provide any evidence showing interaction between Mou and the refs (which you would think they would get, since they were already on the scene).
Once the refereeing team appeared, Mou allegedly said to the ref, “what an artist you are, you love to fuck up professionals.” According to the twitter of Mou’s spokesman Eládio Paramés, who didn’t making things any better (and in my opinion, is full of crap and doesn’t know when to shut up), what Mou actually said was, “you’re an artist, you fuck up those who work, you don’t respect professionals, now you’ll smoke a cigar and you’ll laugh, you’re shameless.” Thus, Paramés confirmed that there was a confrontation between Mou and the referees.
The players also complained about Teixeira, though not like that. Arbeloa said, “we got to where he let us get to.” Iker, meanwhile, shouted at the referee in the tunnel after the game, “go celebrate with them, what a prick, what shit.” Jajaja!!! In the mixed zone, he didn’t deny this: “yes, I did tell the referee to go celebrate with the Barça players. Yes, in the locker room we did say that it’s impossible to win here.” Iker was also upset that he was carded: “it was before Barça’s second goal. I went over to help, to separate my teammates, and he carded me for leaving the area. I was helping him. ¡Apaga y vámonos!” I love it when Iker speaks his mind!
At the conclusion of the game, Iker had to hold back some of his teammates and separate them from the refs, such as Esteban Granero or José Callejón.
Pepe wasn’t happy either, but Gonzalo Higuaín was even more upset. Pepe intercepted him as he made a beeline for the referee, and had to hold him back. Pipita protested, saying, “but did you see that?” He also tried to get Pepe to let him go, but Pepe wouldn’t. It ended with the two of them giving the referees some sarcasm. Not the best behavior, but it was amusing.
Meanwhile, Pepe received shouts of things like “assassin” from the Camp Nou, which prompted him to face the crowd after the game and kiss the escudo of Madrid on his shirt.
Barça’s VP Josep María Bartomeu put his foot in his mouth again when he said after the game, “I want to congratulate the public, who behaved very well, just as we wanted. I congratulate our public, who came to watch a game and only focused on football, there was not a single instance of reprehensible behavior from the public.” That must include the lasers, that guy that pointed at Marcelo and then acted like a monkey, or those who cheered and chanted Messi’s name after a brutal tackle on Pepe that earned Messi a yellow card. Meanwhile, Dani Alves said after the game, “complaining is for losers.” The Barça directors and players love making grandiose statements of superiority, no?
To avoid ending on a negative note, here’s shirtless Cristiano after the game.
Carles Puyol’s shirt also came off, and it was nice to see the hugs between the Madrid and Barça players.
Plus, the Xabi Alonso pose section™! At ease, General Xabi.
Meanwhile, the hunt for the mole continued. Over on “El Larguero,” the program revealed that Mourinho suspects that Iker was the mole. They also reported that Sergio Ramos made a trip to FP’s office at ACS (the other entity that FP is president of) at FP’s request so that he could explain things to the presi, which was apparently to deny that Iker is the mole. “Punto Pelota” also made an effort to figure out who the mole is, revealing that the list of players at the technical chat were Carvalho, Cristiano, Sergio, Xabi, Coentrão, Altintop, Lass, Benzema and Higuaín, with Iker working out 30 meters away. “El Partido de las 12” reported that the main suspects are Albiol, Sergio Ramos and Casillas, and that the club even studied the players’ phones to see who they had called recently and who they had sent messages to (apparently, the numbers belong to the club and so they can get the lists of numbers). Whether a mole actually exists or not, this “hunt” is hilarious, and another reason why being a Madrid fan is never, ever boring.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Pepe’s girlfriend Sofía is pregnant, so if true, congratulations to the pair! Please let Marcelo be the godfather.