all set for Espanyol!
Madrid has spent the last half week preparing for today’s game against that team that took such good care of José Callejón for us for several years, Espanyol, at 21:30h at the Bernabéu. Calleti is just one of the 46 players that have played for both clubs; others on that list include Alfredo di Stéfano and Ricardo Zamora. By the way, José was the latest protagonist of the “today we train with…” series.
Things to look forward to in this game: our team, the offering of the Copa del Rey basketball trophy prior to the start of the game, and seeing two periquitos that I have a soft spot for, Álvaro Vázquez and Dídac Vilà.
On Friday, Jesús and MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín joined the first team players for the training session. And Calleti actually posed alone as he strolled onto the field!
On Saturday, the team trained at the Bernabéu in the evening, before starting the concentración. Nineteen players from the first team plus the two Castilla players who have been training with the team all week, the aforementioned Jesús and MFC, were called up for the game. Karim Benzema, Di María and Coentrão are absent due to injury, while Pepe is suspended for this match.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Arbeloa, Carvalho, Varane, Albiol, Marcelo, Ramos.
Midfielders: Sahin, Altintop, Lass, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Callejón, Granero, Kaká.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Morata.
José Mourinho had spoken to the press prior to the training session, and this is what he had to say.
on his trip to London: I don’t have to give anyone explanations about my private life. When one of us leaves the city of Madrid, we inform the club out of courtesy and respect. It had been a while since I had left. I did that on the last day that I had and I informed who I had to inform, the president and the general director. I don’t have to ask you all (the journalists) for permission or tell you where I have gone, what I have seen or what I did. That’s my problem and not the problem of anyone. On Monday, I’m going to leave once more [the team won’t be back in training until Wednesday] and I don’t think I have to write a document asking for permission for anything.
on Gonzalo Higuaín: Gonzalo Higuaín one of the best center forwards in the world. And only a stupid coach would want one of the best center forwards in the world to leave. Even if he hasn’t been playing this past few weeks, he’s still one of the best players in the world in his position, and he’s still a very special player for me. That’s why I have no intention of allowing Gonzalo to leave Real Madrid.
on Nuri Sahin: we’re not in a position to joke around or give minutes to players whose performance is not as good as others. I will continue with Lass, Xabi, Khedira and Granero. It will be difficult for Sahin.
on Ángel di María: he’s quite an important player for us. We’re paying a bit for his absence, not in terms of results, but rather in terms of the quality of our play. Madrid is different with or without Di María.
on Esteban Granero: Granero is playing principally due to his character, for being a boy with a special personality, one of those who believes that Madrid should never lose. For me, he’s a player that should be a Real Madrid player until his career ends. He very much symbolizes what Madrid is and he’s never given me a bad impression of him. Whenever he’s played, whether it’s one minute or 90, as a starter or coming off the bench, he’s never given me a bad impression, he’s never defrauded me. If there’s a player that deserves more minutes than I’ve given, it’s Granero.
This last answer was in response to a question on whether he’s listened to the public and played their favorite Granero, with Mou saying he doesn’t have time to gauge the opinion of the public or listen to what the public wants, or to the “experts” of the press.
And on Sunday morning, the players had a light stretching session at Valdebebas, their final preparation for tonight’s game. Sergio’s hair looked perfect as always, while my two favorite canteranos posed together, with Iker describing ABMM as “a future star and a magnificent boy.” I hope this future star and magnificent boy will get a few minutes tonight, and also make it to the first team in the future.