the round-up: Zaragoza
Continuing with the round-ups…
Jan. 26: training and a birthday “party.”
Madrid trained on Thursday, as their next game was on Saturday, against Zaragoza. Twenty one first team players were joined by five canteranos from Castilla and RMC (Álex, Omar, MFC, Josep, Fran Sol) for the session. As expected, Marcelo fussed over MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín, despite MFC towering over the Sunshine.
However, the best part of the day came before the session, when José Mourinho was presented with a cake to celebrate his 49th birthday. Mou was already out on the field with his coaching staff, and one by one, the players joined them. All except Iker and Sergio, as they were the ones responsible for presenting Mou with the cake, which read “Felicidades míster.” As they came out with the cake – Sergio was carrying it; the club has a lot of confidence in him, no? – they started singing “Cumpleaños feliz” and the rest of the players joined in. Mou shook Sergio and then Iker’s hands. While Mou was still looking at the cake, Iker decided to take a swipe at the icing, and so he got to sample the cake, even before Mou had tasted it! Bad Iker…
Sergio then asked for a lighter, while Mou tasted the cake, swiping it with a finger to get some of the whipped cream, and said that was enough for now and that they’d continue later. Álvaro Arbeloa disagreed, and pushed Mou back to the cake telling him he had to blow out the candles. Mou continued to protest, insisting that it was time to train. By that time, Óscar Ribot was lighting the candles and Sergio was urging the míster to make a wish (¡pide un deseo, míster, joder!). Mou then blew out the candles, with Iker grabbing another piece of cake before Mou had finished blowing. ¡Es muy goloso! And that’s probably not the best idea before a training session, no? Mou then received a round of applause from his team and that was the end of it. The picture the club provided of the cake shows the damage done by Iker and Mou. And I guess no one was brave enough to shove Mou’s face into the cake, as they had done with Pepe several years ago. It also looks like Mou’s cake was commissioned from the same bakery that made Pepe’s cake, no?
Later on that day, Mou received another cake, this time from Canillas, the club where his son José Mario, aka the luckiest kid in the world, plays. After the Alevín team’s training session, the club threw a little celebration for Mou, with the team, the coaching staff, the directors and the rest of the parents attending. The cake had Mou’s photograph on it and the escudos of Real Madrid and Canillas, and there was also hot chocolate.
In other news, the club has decided to appeal the second yellow card Sergio received against Barcelona in the 87th minute, which got him sent off. He was booked for “disputing the ball with a rival using his raised arm in a dangerous manner,” according to the ref’s report. After reviewing the images, the club came to the conclusion that Sergio was innocent of any dangerous play and that Busquets had pretended to receive an elbow to his face, as he ended up falling to the ground covering his face (sound familiar?) although the images show that Sergio’s right arm did not touch Busquets’ face (the point of impact was at the shoulder).
Sergio tweeted, “I’m happy that the club is appealing my second yellow card because despite the fact that some people never stop rolling around, I didn’t even touch him.”
And I liked what Iker posted on FB: “falling is permitted. Getting up is obligatory. What I want to say with that is that we have to forget about the Copa del Rey. We can no longer think about what happened yesterday. We have to pick ourselves up and think about the game against Zaragoza.” Yes, let’s move on…
Jan. 27: all set for Zaragoza!
Another day, another training session, but this one had the novelty of taking place at the Bernabéu. Sami and Di María remained the absentees, while Jesús joined the 20 players from the first team for the session. Sergio Ramos had trained in the morning at Valdebebas, and was excused from this session, as he’s suspended for the game due to too many yellow cards. He tweeted later on that he was spending the weekend in his beloved Sevilla. All 20 of the healthy and available players were called up for the game, plus Jesús. Marcelo provided the sunshine for the session, since it’s freezing in Madrid.
Aitor Karanka gave the press conference. He was asked about Xavi’s statements,* and asked if Madrid’s players know how to lose. Aitor responded, “of course. However, the club is not accustomed to losing in this way. Madrid is accustomed to winning.” He also said the team was “spectacular” against Barcelona, although all of that is past and there’s nothing more to say about it.
* Xavi was taping an interview with Barça’s TV channel. In the moments prior to the interview, before the actual taping would begin, he was asked if Madrid’s players were upset in the locker room after the game. He said yes, “they’re shit, they don’t know how to lose.” [The next day, Messi would complain about the referees after Barça drew Villarreal 0-0.] These comments were made “off the record,” but I don’t see the big deal with them because Xavi has said many, many things like them on the record before and this type of behavior from him is not surprising at all. I mean, can you imagine the uproar if one of Madrid’s players said the same thing about Barcelona? That player would be given a lifetime ban from football or something like that. But since we’re so used to these types of grandiose declarations from Xavi, this incident hardly caused a ripple. And I’d like to point out that I believe people not only need to know how to lose, they also need to learn what proper behavior is when they win.
Jan. 28 – Real Madrid vs. Zaragoza.
It was the same old story: Madrid gives up an early goal, we start suffering, before the team makes a comeback to seal the win. The giving up of an early goal is a bit worrying – Madrid has conceded goals in each of the 10 games played at the Bernabéu (for a total of 15 – eight in the Liga, two in the CL and five in the Copa) since their 3-0 win against Villarreal on Oct. 26, 2011. Madrid is also the team that has allowed the most goals in the first 15 minutes of this Liga on their own field, with four (tying Real Sociedad).
Prior to the game, the team had left their hotel to travel to Valdebebas for a light training session. I’m only writing about that to point out Iker’s so pale they glow in the dark legs, and that Raúl Albiol really needs to get a haircut. It’s beginning to look like he’s permanently wearing a hat. Tell him Xabi!
Now onto the game! Iker wore red for the first time this season! As red is my favorite color, I wholeheartedly approve. I did notice something curious, however. In the first half, Iker sported an Adidas armband, with the escudo between the stripes. After the break, he came out with his usual navy captain’s armband with the escudo.
Cristiano dedicated his goal to the public, turning 360 degrees in his celebration, as if he were a bullfighter. In response, he received chants of “¡Ronaaal-do, Ronaaal-d0!” There’s no doubt that he and the Bernabéu have made up.
The other goals made me happy too, especially because the celebrations were quite adorable as well. Yay for Ricky and Mesut!
You know, this could totally be Xabi…
Speaking of that…
Here’s another job I’d like, being the fourth official. Then again, despite the obvious perks, the job also comes with the risk that Mou will stand behind you the entire game yelling in your ear. And here’s a picture of Cris’ thighs to round out the thigh shots from this game.
After the game, Mesut and Kaká indulged in a little lovefest. Kaká said of Mesut, “it’s very easy to play with Özil because he’s a very intelligent footballer. It’s a pleasure to play with him.” In response, Mesut said of Ricky, “he’s my friend and we always play together in the training sessions and we score many goals.” Meanwhile, Hamit Altintop is already attempting to speak in Spanish! He did ask for a bit of patience though (although I’m sure some help is going on). Jajaja! I’m very impressed with him and Nuri, because it took Karim three seasons and Mesut two seasons to do the same.
In his post-game press conference, Aitor Karanka admitted that the team hadn’t played as well as expected, and also praised the performances of Esteban Granero, Mesut Özil and Cristiano Ronaldo.
I didn’t like the behavior from the Ultras during the game. They chanted stuff against some of Barça’s players and Pep Guardiola, and things like “Pepe, kill them.” And after their chant for José Mourinho was met with whistles in the game against Athletic, the Ultras decided to change tactics and sang Aitor Karanka’s name instead. This is why I was upset when Mou referred to them as “the only ones who truly support the team.” This is not real support.
Álvaro Arbeloa also tweeted on Saturday, “how good is Dieguito!!!!” in reference to the performance that our former canterano, Diego López, turned in to hold Barcelona scoreless in their game against Villarreal. This of course widened Madrid’s lead on top of the table to seven points.
And to end with the match report, a couple more moments: Álvaro Arbeloa’s cute reaction to a near miss, The Xabi Alonso pose section™ (¡ojo!), and Iker stripping off and giving away his shorts after the game (he had already given his shirt away). Remember those days when Iker would do that, and he was only wearing underwear underneath? I miss those days.
Meanwhile, Marca’s cover story was about Karim Benzema, and how he has reduced his body fat percentage from the 12 percent when he arrived to the current 9-10 percent. They also gave us the helpful detail that Cristiano (no surprise there) is the player with the lowest body fat percentage on the team, at 7 percent.