ICYMI – the right direction edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Espanyol [2012-03-04, Liga jornada 26, 5-0].
Good news all around as we continue marching on the right path: another win to further solidify our lead in the Liga, a new dance from Marcelo and Cristiano (poor Mesut just wanted a high five, but wasn’t bold enough to interrupt – or join in, unfortunately), and Iker kept a clean sheet. Hopefully, this year we will have both the Pichichi and the Zamora.
ONE. Prior to the game, we had José Callejón making faces, and Gonzalo making the sign of the cross (he actually does it twice, but the cameras only captured the second one, so that’s all I can give you).
Meanwhile, Cris waved to Junior, up in the palco with his grandmother, godfather and other assorted family members, including (his future stepmother?) Irina Shayk, who was seen playing with Junior and the other children in the box.
TWO. Another person who got some love from Cristiano was Kaká. It’s been too long since we’ve seen the two of them like this, no? Remember their epic bromance at the beginning of the 2009-10 season? I miss those days.
THREE. Our boys also showed that they were good sports, from Marcelo getting affectionate with Vladimir Weiss to Kaká almost ranting and then having a change of heart and hugging Joan Verdú. I love how when Kaká hugs someone, he always rests his head on their shoulder. It’s adorable, no?
FOUR. I loved these moments when Cris was being his expressive self, and when Marcelo went down and decided not to get up, so Cris stood over him and offered him a hand until Marcelo finally took it. It did take some prompting from Cris though.
FIVE. I also love how Álvaro Arbeloa always ends up on top of the pile during goal celebrations. With Pepe sitting this one out, he had no competition to be the one on top.
By the way, the goal that Cristiano scored was his 30th in the Liga so far this season, giving him – by himself – more goals than 12 of the 20 teams in the competition: Osasuna, Sevilla, Espanyol, Betis, Real Sociedad, Mallorca, Getafe, Granada, Villarreal, Racing, Sporting and Zaragoza. With the exception of Osasuna, who is in seventh place, these are the teams ranked 10th to 20th in the Liga. Cris’ goal average this season is 1.2 goals per game, which puts him on track to score 45 goals by the end of the season. This would allow him to break the record he set last season with 40 goals. Cris has also scored four goals in the Champions, three in the Copa and one in the Supercopa.
Despite that, it was great that it was not only Cris scoring out there, but that Sami Khedira, Gonzalo Higuaín and Kaká also joined in the goalscoring party. It’s lovely and heartwarming to see those players who don’t usually score goals score, as well as for those players whom you can tell need it to score.
SIX. Cris wasn’t setting a very good example for Junior at one point in the game, because he threw a mini temper tantrum, complete with foot stomp, crossed arms and a pout. Loved the moment when he decided to hang from the goalpost too.
SEVEN. Both Mesut and Gonzalo were subbed out so that they could feel the affection from the Bernabéu. Both of them got standing ovations, and a hug from Mou. What else could a player want, right?
EIGHT. I don’t know if it was just me, but the fact that Espanyol’s shirts were blue on the front and black on the back made it look like there were three teams out on the field at times.
NINE. José Mourinho said a while ago that he doesn’t have time to listen to the Bernabéu, but when they started chanting, “Mourinho, saca a Morata, saca a Morata…” (Mourinho, bring out Morata), he heeded their words and did exactly that. My favorite canterano Álvaro Borja Morata Martín fared slightly better than Joselu had a week ago, because he got to play the last 10 minutes, since the game was a blowout. The minutes in this game were his first with the first team since Dec. 22, 2010, when he got into the game against Levante in the Copa.
Prior to the game, ABMM had joked around with his friends on Espanyol. After the game, MFC said, “we achieved three very important points, but I have to think about working with Castilla and taking advantage of the opportunities with the first team. You have to work hard and be humble so that one day you can play in the Bernabéu.” MFC also said he was very happy, and that “the fact that the Bernabéu chanted my name is very touching” (on twitter, he described it as “incredible” and thanked all the madridistas). He ended with “the cantera works.”
TEN. Other post-game declarations. Kaká affirmed that he was happy with his performance: “I needed a solid game, to participate in the goals and in the attack. I’m happy both on an individual level as well as on the collective level. I want to do my job and maintain my level. I don’t always manage to do that, but today things went well.” He also took the time to cheer up his fellow Ricardo, saying, “now we have to support him; he didn’t have a good game. We’re a very strong group and we know when a teammate needs our affection.”
As for Pipita, he told the press that he doesn’t listen to rumors about how he’s going to leave Real Madrid, and that he was grateful for what Mou had said about him before the game: “his words made me happy, it’s great to hear them from a coach like him.” He also said he was “very content” with the affection he received from el madridismo, as “I needed the affection of the Bernabéu and I got it.”
ELEVEN. The Mou/Karanka corner.
Surprisingly, it was Aitor Karanka that spoke with the press after the game, since Mou had spoken in the pre-game press conference. I don’t mind, however, because I love watching Aitor speak. He told the press with regards to Higuaín: “everyone saw what Gonzalo did today. He’s one of the best forwards in the world and he has a special character. When he’s not happy it’s very noticeable, and when he’s happy, as well. Gonzalo is a player with a lot of character and he always wants more. He demands a lot from himself.” Kaká also came in for some praise: “you could also see in his face when he is enjoying himself and today it was a pleasure to watch him.”
Aitor also had a few words of consolation for Ricardo Carvalho, who didn’t have a good game and was booed by the Bernabéu: “we all know how important he is for this team. The important thing is for him to feel supported by everyone.” As for Morata, Karanka explained his absence from the first team in this way: “that’s clear. Benzema and Higuaín have been impressive and we believe it’s better for him to be playing with Castilla.”
It was also nice to have the person speaking to the press not wearing a tracksuit or sweatshirt. Aitor could have just worn the same thing he wore during the game, but he changed into a white shirt, brown v-neck sweater, black zip-up and a nice tweed blazer, as you can see.
TWELVE. Prior to the game, the entire basketball team came out onto the field of the Bernabéu to offer the Copa del Rey trophy to the fans. Madrid had beaten Barcelona 91-74 in Barcelona on Feb. 19 to win the tournament, and earlier that day, Madrid had emerged victorious over Blusens Monbus 83-69. As Felipe Reyes carried out the trophy, the fans chanted “campeones, campeones” and the Real Madrid players applauded their counterparts.
Álvaro Arbeloa gave Carlos Suárez a hug, while Gonzalo Higuaín embraced Sergio Llull, and Xabi and Pablo Laso embraced. Iker had also patted the face of his fellow captain, Felipe, when he had come out. I love that Jorge Sanz spent part of the time taking pictures of the Bernabéu and his teammates; see him in the back with his phone?
Meanwhile, Álvaro Arbeloa and Raúl Albiol, who have never hidden their passion for basketball, posed with the trophy in Agustín’s office. I wonder if Sergio was prohibited from touching the trophy. After all, it is a Copa del Rey trophy won at the expense of Barcelona after a very long drought.
THIRTEEN. Speaking of El Chori, after the game, he tweeted that he had hoped for a hat trick from Higuaín, since “this morning at breakfast he had told me that he was going to score three goals.” Nevertheless, “two goals aren’t bad at all… Grande Pipita!! The only thing missing was a goal from the new Morientes, Álvaro Morata.” And here’s the man I refer to as the fourth Albiol, Espanyol’s Jordi Amat.
FOURTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
I love that Xabi refused to be drawn into a fight…
… and that he yells out instructions during goal celebrations.
There’s only one Xabi…
… and I’m so glad he’s ours.
FIFTEEN. As for Castilla, they fell 1-3 to Tenerife, with Juanfran scoring for our team. Speaking of Castilla, team captain Nacho Fernández was recently featured in an article by the RFEF. Via the interview, we find out that in addition to playing with Castilla and studying his final year of physical activity and sports sciences at the Universidad Camilo José Cela, Nacho is also on the third and last level of the coaching course at the RFEF. He explains it as “my world is football and I would like to be a coach.” Nacho credits his parents for teaching him and Álex since the time they were small that football is not the only important thing in life, which is why he continued his studies. And, when he finishes his first degree, Nacho is thinking about studying journalism! He prefers entertainment journalism, but sports journalism is another option. What a busy boy, no?
Today is Madrid’s 110th birthday (which also means it’s the 10-year anniversary of el centenariazo). ¡Felicidades!