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all set for CSKA Moscow!

March 14, 2012

Will 10 years after La Novena be the year of La Décima?  If you’ve been a madridista as long as I have, then you know that the wait has been really agonizing and at times, very painful.  However, I feel very confident this year, in part because of our excellent form in the Liga, and in part because I’m just an optimistic person (the sunshine that is Marcelo helps with the outlook too).  So, will tonight (20:45h) be the first real step towards La Décima?  I hope so!  ¡A por La Décima!

The team completed their last training session on Tuesday morning, with 21 footballers from the first team and Tomás Mejías taking part.  The absences remain Ángel di María and Fábio Coentrão.

Cris took advantage of the fact that it was sunny and finally getting warm in Madrid (by the way, Marcelo must have had something to do with today’s forecast) to show off his legs, and that very straight part in his hair.  He’s looking a bit pale for Cristiano Ronaldo, no?

Nineteen players were called up for this game.  Missing out are Di María and Coentrão due to injury, and Carvalho, José Callejón (¿¿¿por qué???  The last time he wasn’t called up was back in October, and he’s played in the last four games, and 11 out of the last 12) and Hamit Altintop due to the coach’s decision.

Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.

Defenders: Pepe, Arbeloa, Varane, Albiol, Marcelo, Ramos.

Midfielders: Sahin, Lass, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Granero, Kaká.

Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.

This of course means that Mou can’t jump on José’s back to celebrate a goal, if that happens, so maybe Calleti wanted to get it out of his system by doing that to Álvaro during the training session, except he got the front of Álvaro instead of the back.  I don’t know who I’m more jealous of.  And check out Sergio adjusting his hair!  Álvaro seemed to be in a great mood throughout the session.  If you got to carry José around and hang out with Xabi, I’m sure you would be too.

Meanwhile, one of our favorite bromances was in full bloom, with this loving look exchanged between Crís and Ricky.  Speaking of that, today’s referee, Stephane Lannoy, has never officiated a Real Madrid game, but one of our players does have experience with him.  That player is Kaká.  The last time they met was in the 2010 World Cup, in the game between Brazil and Cote d’Ivoire.  In that game, Kaká received two yellow cards in a span of five minutes, leading to his expulsion, the third of his career.  I was devastated, because that prevented him from playing in the next game, which happened to be against Portugal and his best friend (at that time), Cristiano, and I really wanted to see them hug and act all cute together before and after the game (I was slightly mollified with this photo).

The Xabi Alonso pose section.™  Xabi needs to be careful tonight, because he’s just one card away from earning a suspension.

José Mourinho and Cristiano Ronaldo spoke to the press after the training session.  First Mou spoke, and then Cristiano.  For the latter, this was his first time speaking to the press in about a year and a half (not counting the pre-season).  Remember those days when a player would speak to the press after each training session, and they were allowed to wear whatever they wanted, which provided for lots and lots of amusement sometimes (Guti was also fun, as was Drenthe, Roberto Carlos, Helguera, sometimes Becks…)?

When questioned whether Madrid would play with two forwards, Mou raised three fingers and responded, “three.  Three forwards.  Not two, three” (below).  He was also asked whether he or Cristiano is more important to Real Madrid, and answered in this way: “The education here makes us believe and feel that we are all equally important.  Each one has his mission.  Whether you’re the coach, a player, a director, or an equipment manager, whoever you are in this club, you have to try and be the best and contribute something positive.  That’s why here, we are all equal.”

Mou also asked for support from the fans: “we’re playing away games where the opposing fans strongly support their teams.  This happened in the Liga, against Rayo Vallecano and Betis, for example, or in the Champions in Moscow.  Now we’re playing at home, with a difficult prior result that has left everything open, and if we can have the fans with their team, it would be an important help.”  Apparently, a lot of tickets remain unsold, because the cheapest ones for the game, according to AS, are €60 (the most expensive ones are about four times that), and that’s for the very top tier of the stadium, the Cuarto Anfiteatro.  I’m sure the club would listen to Mou if he told them that tickets should be cheaper so that Madrid will be able to play before a sold out crowd.  Those fans are usually the louder ones, because the socios abonados watch almost all the games, so they usually aren’t as excited to be there, and they tend to be more cynical at times as well.  That’s my experience, anyway.

Thoughts on that part?

As for Cristiano, he was asked the same question as Mourinho, about who is more important to the team, him or his coach.  Cris responded, “Real Madrid, the institution of Real Madrid is the most important.”  Great answer, no?  He gave a similar answer when he was asked if he’s noticed that the fans have more affection for him: “the most important thing is the affection the fans have for the team, not for me.”  And when asked if Mou is going to be Madrid’s coach next season, Cris said with a smile, and his hand stroking his chin, “he’s going to continue with us, he’s going to continue with us.”

That was a great response, but I liked this one better.  A journalist asked Cris if he dreamed about playing in the Serie A, and Cris replied, “I have many dreams, but not with regards to football.”  Jajaja!!!  That reminds me of the time when Sergio was asked if he dreams at night about Messi, and Sergio responded, “No way, I always dream of nice things…”  There was also one point where Cris didn’t understand the question, so Mou had to explain it to him.  Cris also said he’s the same person since he arrived at Real Madrid, “with my defects and virtues, and I try to continue learning new things, and I’m always going to grow as a person and as a player.”  In response to a question on what he thinks about Messi scoring five goals last week, Cris said, “good for him, happy for him and for football.  I don’t know if I’m capable of doing that.  I’d like to do that one day.”  And there are still people who believe he is conceited…

There were way too many questions posed to Cris (and Mou as well) about future events, such as if he’d want to face Benfica, Barcelona, etc.  He had to keep repeating that the most important thing is the game tomorrow and he’s only thinking about that.  The questions about Messi were also annoying.  But at least this time, Cris was allowed to answer in English.

Meanwhile, in his press conference, CSKA Moscow coach Leonid Slutsky was asked his opinion of José Mourinho.  He said, “as a coach, there’s not much I can say.  His results speak for him.  With respect to the relationship he has with the media, in reality he’s a different person.  It’s a role that he has deliberately adopted.  I had a relationship with him when he managed Chelsea and he was a friendly and open person, always ready to debate about football.  It’s a role that doesn’t correspond to his real life.”

By the way, CSKA Moscow’s players had a busy day as well.  In addition to training, some of them visited the Prado, while others went shopping at El Corte Inglés and footballer favorites Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana!  I’m surprised there’s any stock left for them, given Sergio, Cris and co.’s penchant for those brands…

Later that day, our players met up at the Bernabéu to begin the concentración.  Sergio and Cris must be the two players who spend the most time on hair care/styling, no?  By the way, I love the color of Sergio’s hair!

Once at the hotel, Pipita tweeted this photo of him and El Chori, saying, “photo with Albiol, I’m going to speak with him about life, let’s see if it brings me luck like last time.”  Fingers crossed for even more luck, so Pipita will score more than one goal tonight!  Hopefully we won’t need him to, though…

This morning, the players headed to Valdebebas for a light stretching session.  It was Sergio’s turn to show off his legs, while El Pirata pulled a Xabi and posed.

Everyone looks fantastic in this blue color, no?

A couple of videos.

Yesterday, Iker posted a photo on his Facebook of the Exit and Tomillo foundations receiving the money raised from the Partido x la Ilusión back at the end of last year.  The foundations received €80,000 from the Fundación Iker Casillas to help young people at the risk of social exclusion.  Concretely, the Exit Foundation will help 15 persons in the Raval neighborhood of Barcelona by teaching them how to make bicycles for third world countries.  Meanwhile, the Tomillo Foundation will impart courses to 160 young persons to help them create their own businesses.  PWC will be responsible for auditing these two projects to make sure the money is spent correctly and the objectives are reached.

Speaking of Iker: in Spain, Father’s Day is celebrated on March 19 (the day of Saint Joseph (San José), father of Jesus).  Since Iker is promoting his Philips shavers as Father’s Day gifts (that’s why he and Unai teamed up to film that commercial where they were speaking about their dad), he spoke to Philips about his dad (the interview below is a combination of an article published by ¡Hola! and the video, since the video itself is not complete).

How do you remember your father during your childhood?

I remember my father as a father worried about his sons, both my brother and me.  He had a difficult time of it, because he had to do his work and maintain his family, and later on he also had to make his older son, me, happy, by taking me from Móstoles to Madrid to play football every day, and the truth people don’t know what a huge effort that was.

Do you celebrate Father’s Day?

Yes, at home we celebrated it.  At school, when we were young and this day was coming up, we would make gifts for our fathers.  When the day came, we would bring it home and be so excited to give it to them with all our affection.  I suppose that a father would view this as a wonderful gesture.  In addition, since my father is named José, I couldn’t overlook this day.

Is the labor of a father important in the beginnings of an athlete’s career?

I believe it influences everything.  My father is a person who always tried to instill positive values in me since the time I was small, not only as a student, but also as an athlete.  Sometimes he had a bad time of it because he wanted his son to do things in the best way possible but he always says that with prudence and calm, things will always turn out.

Is your father still an important part of your life when it comes to making decisions?

Well, in the beginning yes, now… not so much, because we’re growing older.  An opinion or advice from your father is always well received, but that’s the way life is, you get older.  He always gives his opinion in an affectionate way.  I suppose he’s also proud to see his sons growing up and making their own decisions, both personally and professionally.

Would you say you are vain?

Well, since I’m a public personae, and I appear in the news every weekend, I have to take care of myself.  I’m not one of those who are in front of the mirror all the time, but, for example, I like to shave once or twice a week.  [He plugs the Philips SensoTouch, which can be used in the shower.]  You have to realize that we take a lot of showers, so shaving in the shower for me is very comfortable.

What is your preferred look?

I liked the beard that I had, which Philips took away from me.  The truth is I’m grateful because it gave me luck.  I think the worst look I could have is a goatee because I have very strong features and my head is a bit big, so it wouldn’t look good on me… [Jajajaja!!!].

And the people at Adidas may not produce the best shirt sometimes (see the light blue shirts of La Roja) but they do know how to bring out the best of the players in videos.  Esteban Granero and José Callejón star in this video for the miCoach interactive personal coaching and training system, with Álvaro Arbeloa making a cameo.  He could probably beat them in a sprint, no?  Although they’re probably faster than Iker was…

Basically, we get to see Esteban and José running around and being all adorable in the process, especially when they check each other’s data.  However, they must not have worked out too hard, because José’s hair didn’t move at all.  And I have to say, José’s dimple does strange things to me…

A couple more photos from the campaign.

Meanwhile, Sergio filmed a little video to thank his two million twitter followers.  He says, “good evening friends.  Here I am in the hotel, concentrado for tomorrow’s Champions League game against CSKA Moscow.  I have a lot of hope, a lot of desire to advance.  I wanted to express my gratitude, because we are now more than two million on twítter, and I have to express heartfelt thanks for this support and affection that you all always show me.  I’ll continue working hard to get to my best level and achieve big wins with our team.  A big kiss, and Hala Madrid.”  How many of you blew a kiss back to Sergio?

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah, Madrid permalink
    March 14, 2012 16:02

    CrisKa <33333 and Ikeeeer *sigh* how can you be soo beautiful, I love the Addidas ad and Callejon is warming my heart everyday, him not being part of the squad has no explanation tbh.
    Well Una, I was too focused on him rubbing his hand on his thighs and yes I blew him a kiss back jaja

    Oh HALA MADRID, HASTA EL FINAL, VAMOS REAL, I am tooooo exicted for todays' game.
    I loved Cristano and his answers, he always look bored in conference, no? These Barcelona and Messi question are annoying, very annoying as it has nothing to do with them. Btw, some are still saying Cristano think he is better than team by thinking fans only cheer for him ( not knowing he was asked!!), yes he will never win with them!

  2. Alyssa permalink
    March 14, 2012 16:40

    That photo of Iker and the razor! WHOA.

    Oh my lordy Sergio’s video is too much. Too much. The way he speaks, the way he keeps rubbing his legs while he speaks, the kiss at the end! I can’t tell you how many times I watched this last night. It’s like his goal was to make us lose our minds! He has passed the point of just being sexy. Sergio is sex.

  3. rojafan permalink
    March 14, 2012 16:42

    I was so upset when Kaka was given that second yellow in 2010–for nothing! I hate to even think about it. It still makes me angry! I am so nervous for today, and I’m also wondering, por que no Calleti?

  4. AJ Nelson permalink
    March 14, 2012 16:59

    So excited for today’s game! Even more so since a massive power outage in Boston shut down my office and I can stay home and watch the game LIVE! Let’s go boys!

  5. Jenny permalink
    March 14, 2012 17:36

    Brilliant round-up Una! Gifs of Cristiano Ronaldo at the press conference are hugely appreciated. He has priceless expressions.

    Your impression of cynical crowds at the Bernabeu is interesting because it confirms an impression. It’s always a shock to switch from Bundesliga games in Germany on TV to the Bernabeu (where the crowd is often 30,000 stronger). By comparison with German crowds the Bernabeu sounds like they are listening to the grass grow. Let’s hope they do better today.

  6. kiki permalink
    March 14, 2012 17:56

    Another totally satisfying post from Una!!! For me your posts are the most satisfying all over the net, full of all the extra info we can’t get all together anywhere else. Thank You! I’m especially enjoying that ♥CrisKa♥ picture….uh oh, Xabi’s one yellow awayyyy 😦 … & what’s this I hear about our wonderful San Iker getting married in the summer!!!????!!!!???? & Of course we do want La Décima! Hala Madrid!

  7. Ally permalink
    March 14, 2012 18:04

    They look gorgeous in their blue kits 🙂 The weather is great in Madrid (marcelo sunshine contributes to the sunny weather of course), I wish I were there!
    Hala Madrid!

  8. Pammie permalink
    March 14, 2012 18:05

    Thanks to your post I’m now well prepared for the match!! I’m also a fan of the UEFA training shirt colour, it really suits every player.
    Adidas needs to make more videos with those two.

    I’m glad that Iker doesn’t want to get a goatie 😀

    I’m a bit nervous about it and hope our defenders help Iker with keeping a clean sheet this time.
    Hala Madrid!

  9. March 14, 2012 18:39

    HALA MADRID! Here’s to La Décima!!

    Amazing post as always Una! Thanks as always.

  10. hbwm permalink
    March 15, 2012 16:45

    oh-oh Xabi just got another yellow card….. 😦
    by the way, really enjoying reading your blog~ thank you~ 😀

  11. Sara permalink
    March 16, 2012 03:29

    This has nothing to do with this post but I really wish Mou would give Sahin more minutes. Anyways, great post Una, as always! I may not always comment but I just want to let you know that I read every single one of your posts. Thank you for taking your time to do this.

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