all set for Villarreal!
Tonight, Madrid takes on Villarreal (22h), a team that José Mourinho knows quite well.
Via Marca: during the 1998-99 season, Mou worked for Louis Van Gaal’s Barcelona. He was responsible for preparing reports about Barcelona’s opponents and so he was sent to Villarreal, since the way the calendar was structured that year had Barcelona facing opposing teams right after they would play at Villarreal. Thus, Mourinho became a familiar face at El Madrigal, and the club even presented him with his own abono for that season, so that he didn’t have to apply for accreditation before each game.
The team finished preparations for tonight’s game on Tuesday afternoon by holding the last training session. Ángel di María came out onto the field to continue his recovery process, which included ball exercises. Meanwhile, his teammates – 21 from the first team plus Castilla’s Jesús – trained as they normally do.
Twenty players were called up for the game. Di María and Carvalho (strained muscle in his right thigh) are missing the game due to injury, while Coentrão and Albiol (still under the effects of the flu; I guess he and Pipita will have to talk by phone again) were left out due to the coach’s decision.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Ramos.
Midfielders: Altintop, Sahin, Lass, Khedira, Xabi Alonso, Özil, Granero, Callejón, Kaká.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín y Benzema.
Aitor Karanka spoke to the press in place of Mou. Here are some highlights.
on the fight for the Liga: I think that in football, many times people say things that they don’t believe. It’s not just right now or recently, it’s always been like that. What is said elsewhere about us does not interest us. What interests us is continuing to work in the manner in which we have been, and right now, thinking about the game against Villarreal and about our own issues… We shouldn’t comment on what others say.
on the tie against Málaga: as the míster said two months ago, we have our way of working. Two months ago, people were talking about the alirón and the honor guard and the first one who said something like this was going to happen was the míster, and that in the first moment where we stopped winning, people would talk about a crisis… we have our method of working, we focus on our own issues, things are going quite well and we have to continue like that.
Following the training session, the team flew to Valencia, then traveled by bus to Vila-real. Rafa Varane and Hamit Altintop signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans at the customary fan session.
The littlest madridistas are the most adorable, no?
In other news, the club will present the “Real Madrid Resort Island” project tomorrow at the Bernabéu. This Real Madrid-branded tourist complex and theme park will be developed in the UAE, specifically in the emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. It didn’t take long after that announcement for people to give their take on the complex. Punto Pelota collected some of the most amusing tweets.
– there will be a parking lot of terror where I will lie in wait for you.
– there will be an attraction called Sahin that will never be used.
– “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” will be played over the sound system 24 hours a day.
– the rest area will be called “Faubert.”
– there will be benches where you can wait with the faces of Albiol, Altintop and Sahin on them.
Roberto Carlos was in Madrid yesterday. He ate at the Puerta 57 restaurant in the Bernabéu, and then dropped by to visit with some old friends, tweeting the following photo.
Fabio Cannavaro spoke to Radio Marca recently, and this is what he had to say about Pepe: “sometimes Pepe appears to be crazy, or that he flips out a bit. But in reality, I love it because he always wants to win and defend the shirt of Real Madrid. For me, the most important thing is that when he leaves the field, he’s a great guy and everyone loves him. He needs to be calm, and only think about playing.”
We don’t hear much from Lass, so I was surprised to see an interview with him in AS the other day (there wasn’t anything interesting in it). And then after I read the interview, I saw this photo, which accompanied it, and I cringed. Can you see why? Those jeans! I don’t even think Ángel or Cristiano would be seen in them, which means they really are awful!
Gustaff Choos has given us another photo of Xabi. Which one do you prefer, this one or the previous one, which Xabi is currently using as his twitter profile pic? And now that I look at it again, he looks very much like Dexter in that one, down to the way he’s posing, no?
And to end, here’s an article I spotted on the last page of El Mundo today. They always profile an interesting newsmaker, and today, it was the turn of a former Bedouin goalkeeper in Israel by the name of Maryam Abu Ghanem. In 2002, she played in the professional league with Maccabi Beer Sheva, in 2009 she became the first Bedouin woman to receive a physical education degree, in addition to basketball and football coaching licenses. In 2012, she earned a master’s in education.
One day she picked up the ball and began to sidestep defenses, looks and vicious comments. Maryam Abu Ghanem’s dream was not to become a star, but to show that a Bedouin woman could combine a love for sports with faith in Allah. She’s the first Bedouin physical education teacher in Israel, and a pioneer in the professional league. Perhaps that’s not a big step forward for humanity, but it is for many Bedouin girls who aspire to be something more than another wife in an arranged marriage. “From the time I was small, I decided to fight for what I liked and not cry when I was going through bad times,” she tells El Mundo while wearing a Real Madrid shirt. That’s another aspect of her personality; even though the region is mostly azulgrana, she remains loyal to the white love of her childhood. As a child she tended to her flock and washed dishes in record time so that she could watch her favorite Israeli team, Maccabi Haifa.
Maryam has two academic degrees and a master’s in education. She played her first games as a professional in Israel covered from head to feet. Since it was not comfortable at all for her to emulate her hero Iker Casillas, she decided to take off the traditional uniform. “The rivals couldn’t believe that the girl that occupied the goal was the same one that they saw later completely covered and with a headscarf,” she remembers. For Maryam, it was important to break the chains without renouncing her religion. “Each time that we posed with a trophy, I would put myself behind the camera. I didn’t want to be seen without the headscarf. That’s how I became interested in photography,” she says with a smile. Nowadays, she teaches classes, collaborates with the local community center, manages her own dance school and studies photography without missing a prayer session or a Real Madrid game.