ICYMI – the forward(s) edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. CSKA Moscow [2012-03-14, Champions League round of 16 second leg, 4-1].
Well, we have taken one step forward towards to La Décima thanks to the prowess of our forwards on Wednesday night, and are now in the quarterfinals! In this game, Cristiano, Karim and Gonzalo combined for four goals, and on the season they have scored 85 goals (42, 22 and 21, respectively). Just like Mou, I wouldn’t want anyone else.
ONE. Since we’re on the subject of our forwards, let’s start with the goals. Gonzalo Higuaín opened up the scoring on Wednesday night, and the celebration saw the typical head rubbing and Álvaro Arbeloa jumping. That continued with the second goal, as Pepe and Marcelo were of course the first to reach Cristiano, though they refrained from doing any dancing.
I love the expressions on everyone’s faces, and how tightly Marcelo is gripping Cristiano!
Karim Benzema scored 33 seconds after he stepped onto the field in substitution of Pipita, which was also his first minutes in weeks. He described that goal as “I got rid of the defender and Özil gave me a super pass. I shot at the goal and the ball came back to my feet. I was lucky.” That pass really was super, no? And the last goal was notable for the fact that Karim could have taken the shot, instead of passing it to Cristiano. I loved what Karim had to say about that course of events: “I love scoring, but you have to think first about the good of the team. When Pepe gave me the pass, I saw that the goal was closed from my angle. I had the option of shooting, but there was a teammate in a good position. If it had been anyone else and not Cristiano, I would still have passed it.” I wonder what Álvaro is saying to Mesut there?
This little moment of celebration is fantastic, because which of us, if given the chance to touch Sergio’s hair, would let that opportunity pass by?
TWO. As the team walked through the stadium to the locker room, Cris turned to the camera and winked, and so of course I had to include that slightly awkward moment. Later on, Cris was quite affectionate with his little mascot. He and Kaká also shared a moment while they were waiting for the Champions League hymn to finish playing.
THREE. I just like this picture of Álvaro. Is this his “segundo más empanado” face?
FOUR. Cris showed up with slicked down hair and that part, just like at the press conference the previous day, and his stellar performance earned him the highest praise from the Bernabéu, cheers, applause and the singing of his name. ¡Cristiano, Cristiano!
FIVE. I think Esteban Granero is no longer in training, no? Look at how boss he was just sitting on the bench, and how mesmerizing he was when he was stripping, if you can get over the fact that the clothes just seem to fall off of him (just like we imagine it to, no?).
SIX. Things we love: Karim Benzema’s lips and eyelashes (I’m so jealous at how long they are)…
… (plus a bonus picture of Benz; he needs to find a Spanish girlfriend named Mercedes, jaja)…
… Mesut’s legs, and all the talent within them, and of course, Sergio’s hair.
SEVEN. As soon as the game ended, José Mourinho walked from the bench to the fondo sur of the stadium, to applaud the Ultra Sur fans there. I’ll say it again. Though they did cheer the team on throughout the game, even as others whistled at the team, their behavior is reprehensible the majority of the time, and they shouldn’t receive encouragement.
Anyway, what Mou did next was great, he hugged and high-fived his players one by one…
… as well as the players of CSKA Moscow.
EIGHT. Meanwhile, Cris waved and blew kisses to his family, and it looks like he also thanked the crowd for their support, and perhaps promised a shirt for his poor victim that night, CSKA’s keeper Sergei Chepchugov. I hope Sergei got the souvenir he wanted!
NINE. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Xabi of course received a yellow card during the course of this game, which means that he’ll miss the first leg of the quarterfinals.
TEN. After the game, Sergio Ramos spoke about our fantastic forwards: “we’re very happy that our three forwards are all on a great scoring streak right now. Karim has found the goal again after his injury. The competition is good for the team, all of them are great and in the training sessions you can sense this competition.” He also said Xabi would be missed in the next CL game, and that “if it were up to the players, Mou would continue for many years.”
Meanwhile, Karim, who was wearing quite an unsightly jacket, expressed his joy over Pipita’s goal: “we’re a team, each one of us is important and I’m very happy for Higuaín’s first goal. There’s neither Higuaín nor Benzema, we’re all together and to win the Champions we have to be like that.”
As for Pipita, he was looking muy pijo.
ELEVEN. The coaches corner.
I love how Rui, Aitor and Silvino were all patting each other before the game, with Mou receiving taps on the back. And this moment with Mou and the water bottle reminds us of that similar incident in Donosti, no, back when Mou still wore suits…
In his post-game declarations, Mou had this to say to the Bernabéu: “I don’t criticize or comment on the support of the fans [he just gestures, right?]. We will continue asking for it, but I don’t want to criticize it afterward. We saw that they whistled at us and so I have to thank that small group behind the goal for their continuous support.”
As for his players, he said, “we can’t cry because Xabi is not playing [in the next game]. We’re good, there won’t be any problems because Lass will play, or Granero with Khedira. He will rest, and so he can play Liga games. The forwards scored but the most important thing is playing as a team, as a collective. Kaká had a spectacular game. He’s never worked as hard as he has now. He worked fantastically for the team… and the best occasions in the first half were created by him.”
TWELVE. Other notes.
Accompanying FP in the presidential box were Madrid Mayor Ana Botella and her husband, former Spanish president José María Aznar; Toni Grande (Vicente del Bosque showed up at the Athletic-Manchester United game on Thursday); José Mercé; and Bertín Osborne.
Rubén de la Red also attended the game, and got a round of applause from the fans, who also chanted his name. He thanked them via twitter, saying, “thanks to the fans of Real Madrid for the gesture today, thank you from the heart for that moment. It was very emotional to see such huge support” and “thank you so much to everyone in the Bernabéu today, I got very emotional with so many gestures of affection!! A big hug.” I miss him!
Madrid will face Cyprian team APOEL (making “apoellos” a trending topic on twitter; it’s a play on words of “a por ellos”) in the quarterfinals following Friday’s CL draw. The first leg will be played on March 27 in the GSP Stadium in Nicosia, with the return leg at the Bernabéu on April 4. Should we pass that round – and I hope we will – we’ll meet the winner of the Olympique de Marseille-Bayern Munich match-up in the semifinals.
Have a great weekend, hopefully filled with sunshine!