all set for Levante!
And all caught up, finally! Madrid takes on Levante tonight at the Bernabéu (21:30h), and hopefully they can take advantage of the “Osasunazo,” as AS called it, and widen their lead in the Liga to 10 points. Marcelo Sunshine was certainly fired up at yesterday’s training session, while AAAA (Antonio Adán & Álvaro Arbeloa) scolded and made fun of Iker for not following proper rondo etiquette, with Álvaro even showing us a few dance moves. I love this team!
And Roberto Carlos – LEGEND – will finally get a much-deserved and long awaited recognition for his years of service to this team!
Feb. 5 – on vacation…
Karim Benzema spent the mini-vacation back home in Lyon, where he participated in a charity concert organized by the Les Enfoirés group of artists. Benz got up on stage and sang a version of the song “Chanteur,” re-imagined as “Le footballeur,” and towards the end of the show, he also lent his vocals to Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” and Les Enfoirés’ new single for this year, “Encore un hiver.” If anyone has video of this, I’d love to see it. Did he get to rap as well? And is he only shy in Spanish?
Feb. 6 – a pair of pajamas.
Raúl Albiol is doing very, very well so far on twitter. He tweeted a photo of him watching “El Hormiguero” with the “baby of the house” (his dog Minnie). Álvaro Arbeloa saw the photo, and decided to make fun of his pajamas: “what kind of pajamas did you spend your money on!!!” As if that teasing wasn’t enough, Raúl’s response to Álvaro was priceless: “there’s no doubt that your pajamas are the type without sleeves… Samson!” Jajaja!!!
Meanwhile, Miguel decided to have a little chat (via twitter, of course) with his younger brother about his hairstyle: “how great you are with this… hair!!!! But you have to go to the barbershop.” It looked like this little brotherly advice (command?) worked, because Raúl tweeted back, “since you’re my older brother, I’ll keep that in mind.”
Feb. 7 – back to work.
After two very welcome days off, Madrid returned to training on Tuesday to start preparing for Sunday’s game against Levante. There was good news, in the form of Ángel di María and Sami Khedira’s recoveries, as they worked out with the group. That left only Marcelo working out by himself, as he did recovery work with Carlos Lalín. Canteranos Óscar Plano, Omar, Mandi and Tomás Mejías were called up for this training session. Of note: Sergio fashioned his headwear into a bandanna with his ponytail sticking out of the back.
Also on Tuesday, Iker, Sergio, Xabi and Cris received their FIFPro awards, for forming part of the ideal XI for 2011. They were unable to pick up the awards at the FIFA gala back in January, as they were in the midst of a concentración prior to a Copa del Rey match against Málaga.
Iker provided a photo of himself at home with the four FIFPro awards he’s won, while Sergio tweeted this photo of himself with Cris and their awards. Sergio unfortunately decided to cover himself with a towel, while Cris should have as well, to cover up those studded jeans! I think Sergio might have a chance of rocking them (especially in a bright color), but Cris doesn’t. That Gucci jacket and off-center cap don’t help things either. Anyway, all eyes weren’t on Cris’ outfit, they were on his new car (why didn’t he opt for a flashier color?), a Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4, which was apparently a birthday present for himself. El Chori tweeted “envy is a sign of inferiority” and shortly after, “Cain was also envious of Cris’ new Lamborghini Aventador LP 700-4…” Jajaja!!!!
Another tweet that I liked: MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín tweeted this with the hashtag, “reasonable resemblances”: “Jorge Casado and Nuri Sahin, jajajajajajajaja.” It’s true, they could pass for twins!
José Callejón presented his new Adidas boots at a promotional event in Madrid. Besides flashing that adorable dimple, he said that he’s very happy with how he’s playing, and that “returning to my home was a dream that came true. It’s magnificent to train and play with the best players in the world. I want to learn and give the best out of me so that this club can win many titles. I always want to give it my all and sacrifice myself as much as I can for this club.” He also said Mou is very happy at Madrid, he doesn’t believe he will be leaving, and he doesn’t want him to leave. The other day, my friend asked me what I think of Callejón “and ignore the hair.” Well, I absolutely adore José, hair and all! I’m so happy to finally see a canterano triumph at Madrid, even if he did have to leave to make the higher-ups notice his worth.
Feb. 8 – training…
Another day, another session that was more or less a repeat of the previous session. All of the players were out at Valdebebas, joined by a handful of canteranos (Casado, Merchán, Tomás Mejías), and out of them, Marcelo was the only one who trained apart at times, as he’s still recovering from his injury. It was so cold that even Mou wore a hat (or, as we would find out the next day, he was just waiting to surprise us), while some of his players looked like bank robbers. As for Sergio’s hat, well it knew that it was a sin to cover up that perfect head of hair, and so it decided to show it off by helpfully falling off of Sergio’s head.
Also on Wednesday, Sanitas handed out their health insurance cards to all the players. Sanitas has been Madrid’s official medical supplier for more than 10 years, which is why all the physicals of new players are held at their hospitals, why they choose a “healthiest” player each year and why they hand out these cards each season.
The lucky Sanitas representative got to pose with the players both before and after the training session. Some of them looked more enthusiastic than others, although no one can beat Mou’s lack of enthusiasm last season.
When I heard that Xabi Alonso would be the ambassador of the Fundación Mujeres por África (Women for Africa Foundation) and attend the presentation ceremony along with the queen of Spain, Queen Sofía, I really, really wanted them to pose together, just to see if the photo could handle all the regality and class that it contained. Unfortunately, the two of them didn’t pose together. The queen did notice Xabi though, but it’s pretty hard not to, no? He has such as presence… rivaled at the presentation only by the queen herself, and outshining some of the top politicians and businesspersons in Spain.
Anyway, the event was held at the Museo Reina Sofía, and FP was also there, as he’s one of the trustees of the foundation, along with other big names in business such as Emilio Botín, head of the banking group Grupo Santander, Spain’s richest woman Esther Koplowitz, former Real Madrid presidential candidate Juan Manuel Villar Mir, El Corte Inglés president Isidoro Álvarez… Queen Sofía is the honorary president and the executive president is former deputy prime minister María Teresa Fernández de la Vega. Xabi and Pau Gasol (he provided a taped message during the presentation) are the ambassadors. Former Spanish PM ZP was also on hand. As you can see, this foundation has a lot of power behind it. The mission of the foundation is to promote the development and progress of Africa through the empowerment of women and a fight for equal rights and opportunities.
Xabi told the press, “this foundation is worth it. Trying to develop on all levels a continent with so much potential is something that’s for the common good.” And of course, the media asked Xabi about football during the event, and he told them that it’s impossible to decide whether he’d like to win the Liga or the Champions, although “I’ve never won a league and I’d like one, but the Champions League has a special attraction to it.”
Feb. 9 – Mou gets buzzed.
The team trained at the Bernabéu this morning in a closed door session, as the meteorological conditions at the stadium are much better than that at Valdebebas. We also found out that Hamit Altintop was diagnosed with a tear to his left calf, and that José Mourinho has a new hairstyle! I think I preferred him with longer hair, but this style fits much more nicely with his tracksuits and vests, the only things he seems to be wearing nowadays. It probably saves him a lot of time too, as it requires little styling. That means more time to devote to football!
Speaking of new hairstyles, Raúl Albiol tweeted that “tomorrow I’m going to get a haircut…” I guess he decided to listen to his brothers, Miguel and Álvaro! And Sergio tweeted this photo of him adding to his tattoo collection. He’s going to end up like David Beckham isn’t he, with hardly an inch to spare on his upper body.
Meanwhile, Cuatro Deportes provided us with a video of the top eight songs that play in Madrid’s locker room. Marcelo and Sergio are apparently the DJs, and they really like reggaeton, don’t they? But I’m surprised Sergio (with the help of Calleti) hasn’t managed to force any flamenco or flamenquito songs onto this playlist…
8. Paulina Rubio – Me Gustas Tanto.
7. Juan Magan – Bailando Por Ahí.
6. DJ Buxxi – Como Tú No Hay Dos.
5. José de Rico feat. Henry Méndez – Rayos de Sol.
4. Fuego feat. El Potro Álvarez – Una Vaina Loca.
3. Michel Teló – Ai Se Eu Te Pego.
2. Don Omar feat. Lucenzo – Danza Kuduro.
1. Daddy Yankee – ¿Qué Tengo Que Hacer?
Feb. 10 – more training…
Marcelo trained at the same intensity as his teammates on Friday morning, meaning that there’s the possibility he will be available to play this Sunday against Levante. He was one of the 21 players out on the practice field of Valdebebas, along with Castilla’s Tomás Mejías and Merchán. Lass, meanwhile, worked out indoors, and Hamit Altintop was immersed in his recovery work. I love Bambi’s big eyes!
Meanwhile, Iker finally sported a hat that I liked!
Unlike some people, Raúl Albiol came through on his promise, which was to tweet a photo of his new hairstyle (it ended up being basically a return to his previous hairstyle). We weren’t the only ones looking forward to it, as Álvaro Arbeloa was also waiting for the big moment. Surely he could just walk over to El Chori’s house? Or maybe not, because last night he was busy having dinner with Pablo Ibáñez (aka El Hombre de Negro) who works for the TV program “El Hormiguero” and birthday boy (Feb. 11) José Callejón (which of course means it’s Juanmi’s birthday too). Álvaro called Calleti “Seabiscuit” and tweeted some photos from the dinner, as did Pablo. Those sunglasses suit José, no?
Speaking of twitter, two more of our Castilla players have joined recently – Jesús Fernández and Jesé. The latter tweeted a photo of his new look, and said he hoped that it would bring him luck on Sunday. Since I love stars, I like this look! It’s better than that stripey thing he sported earlier.
And Kaká tweeted a photo of his shinguards, which sport a lion surrounded by his name and those of his wife (in a heart – cute!) and children, plus the words “we belong to Jesus.”
Feb. 11 – all set for Levante!
Preparations for Sunday’s game continued on Saturday, with 22 players working out at Valdebebas, everyone on the team except Hamit Altintop. Tomás Mejías joined the players from the first team, which included Lass, who had worked out inside the previous day. It looks like the birthday boy got a little extra attention during the session!
Twenty players were called up for the game, including Tomy. Those players left off the list were the injured Altintop and Lass, plus Ángel di María and Marcelo, due to the coach’s decision, although this time there’s nothing strange about that since both are coming off of injuries.
After several weeks without speaking to the press (18 days to be exact), José Mourinho returned to the sala de prensa. In this press conference, he was accompanied by
his entourage Aitor Karanka, Rui Faria and Eládio Paramés. He had the following to say.
on the month of February: February is perhaps more complicated for us than for our most direct rival. We play against Levante, which is fourth in the table; against Racing, which is making a clear comeback and winning many points now; against Rayo, surely one of the revelations of this season, not only for points, but also for quality of play; and against Espanyol, which is having a great season and fighting to play in Europe… we have a series of games in February, and it’s difficult for any team to have a more complicated series of games than us.
on the “more team-oriented” Cristiano: here, we don’t work based on whistles or applause, but rather we focus on what we believe is the most important thing for the team. The team needs everyone to actively participate in defensive tasks. It’s normal for those players who play up front to not have a defensive culture, but that’s why we’re here, to improve. It seems to me that everyone, and I’m not just taking about Cristiano here, I’m referring to Cristiano, to Higuaín, to Benzema, to Özil, it seems to me that those who play up front are improving a lot in the defensive aspect. Callejón did have this defensive spirit in his essence but the rest are improving a lot.
Calleti’s the teacher’s pet of this season, taking over from Esteban, no?
on his continuity at Madrid: I expected this question. I think you all already should know my answer. I’m not the one adding fuel to the fire, I’m not the one writing things, I’m not the one saying things, you all have to ask your sources, who are anonymous for you. For me, they’re not anonymous, they’re imaginary [jajaja!!!!]… The source should be the one providing the answer. If your source is anonymous, ask them again. If it’s imaginary, then imagine another one [jajajajajajaja!!!!]… The press here is like that, it’s like the sea. It comes and goes, comes and goes. I don’t play your game, I play my game.
on playing the Özil-Kaká pair (Madrid hasn’t lost when they play together): I have a good memory and I haven’t forgotten your criticism or that of your co-workers when last year we played with Kaká and Özil together in Almería or A Coruña.
on Eládio Paramés and his twitter account: I don’t have anything to do with his twitter. He’s a person that works for me but he has his own life, his own opinion, his independence and it’s not my problem. I’m not anyone to say what he can say or cannot. I don’t have one, I don’t like it and I’m not going to make one. I must be out of date, from a generation that is getting older, but social networks are not for me. I’d like to take this opportunity to say that those profiles on Facebook passing for me are fake.
The team met up at the Bernabéu on Saturday night to begin the concentración. Now that El Chori has gotten a haircut, can everyone start working on Esteban?
Over on twitter, Sergio couldn’t let the day go by without sending out his birthday wishes for his bro, aka “Calletiiii.” He also gave us a photo, tweeting, “you (José) have many more birthdays left next to Churu, jejejeje.” If I remember correctly, Sergio’s nickname “Churu” came from Javier Saviola, who used to say that Sergio looked more like someone from Uruguay than Spain. And thoughts on Churu’s attempt to look like an English gentleman off to a hunt? Sergio also gave us a glimpse of his new tattoos, which are the name of his mother, Paqui, on his left hand and the nickname of his father, Rubio, on his right. He tweeted, “they’re unique and I love them a lot. Good night and have a good weekend.” Here’s another picture of the new tattoos.
Some magazine appearances…
Sami Khedira and his girlfriend Lena Gercke are featured in the March issue of GQ Germany as a dream team, since he’s a top footballer and she’s a top model (original combination, no?). The genetically blessed couple looked very much in love during the photo shoot, and the resulting photos, though a bit racy and possibly bordering on tacky (so I’m sure Sami will come in for a bit of teasing from his teammates) are quite romantic, especially the black and white shots (and excluding the cover shot).
Much like Xabi and Nagore, they seem to exist in a perfect parallel universe, no?
This is the cover shot. In the name of equality, are there any German magazines aimed at women that will feature a naked Sami and a clothed Lena for us girls?
I love that Sami decided to show off his dance skills! More of that please!
Mesut also made an appearance in GQ Germany, in the January issue.
If anyone would like to provide translations to Sami or Mesut’s interviews, let me know! The lovely girls over at Mesut’s LiveJournal community “Crinkly Ears” have provided a translation of the video and article that accompanied Mesut’s photoshoot (the Sami translation is also on the way too!).
Anyway, the highlights of the Mesut article are definitely “his freshly washed hair smells of fruit: something between strawberries and melons” and “he still gushes about it: the football mania of the Madridistas, the way fans stop him on the street and talk at him at such a rapid-fire pace he can’t understand a word until eventually everyone just laughs.” Now I want to smell Mesut’s hair!!!! And if it really does smell as good as it sounds, also ask him what shampoo he uses! And while I’m at it, which one Sergio uses to make his hair always look so fantastic!
You know, if I ever get a chance to interview these footballers, those are the types of questions I’d ask (and also including, “why do you absolutely refuse to take off your undershirt?), instead of things like “who was your childhood idol” or “what title do you want to win this year.”
And a little note.
I just want to say a big thank you for all your support and encouragement over the last several weeks, when I wasn’t unable to post and while I caught up. It means a lot to me, because since I started this blog, all growth has been organic.* I’ve never advertised this blog, I’ve never told anyone to come visit (in fact, only a handful of very close friends know that I even write it), I’ve never posted links of it anywhere, so it really has spread and grown by word of mouth, and that’s why I’m very thankful to all of you. ¡Muchísimas gracias!
* wow, I do remember something from business school!