ICYMI – the Brazilian edition
In case you missed it – APOEL vs. Real Madrid [2012-03-27, Champions League quarterfinals, first leg, 0-3].
What I love about this team is that it’s unpredictable, in the sense that you never know who’s going to step up. On Tuesday, it was the turn of Marcelo and Kaká, our super subs that night, who came in during the second half, danced their way through APOEL, much like they did in the warm-ups, and changed the course of the game. At that point, APOEL was holding Madrid to a scoreless draw. The Brazilian duo then came in, and Madrid walked away with an important 3-0 win. El Mundo called it the “alegría marceliana.”
Exit, stage right…
ONE. Prior to the game, we had Iker being all affectionate with his mascot, and Sergio showing off his blindingly white smile. That’s the thing that immediately catches my eye in the picture on the right.
TWO. Karim Benzema, with his doblete in Nicosia, became Madrid’s leading goalscorer in the Champions League with seven. He’s ranked third in the tournament. I love that he celebrated the first goal with Kaká – and Marcelo – just as he had done against Real Sociedad! Karim rubbing Kaká’s head is adorable too, no?
Kaká really does look like The Savior here.
To celebrate the second goal, Kaká gave Marcelo a kiss. And I love Marcelo’s cheeky little grin and shouting!
As for the third goal, it was all about Mesut Özil’s pass, which is why he hurtled himself at Karim to celebrate the goal. As usual, Álvaro Arbeloa and Pepe jumped on top of their teammates.
THREE. I don’t mind the thumbs up quite so much in this game, because the boys seemed to be using them to tell us that everything would be okay. And so they were.
FOUR. Prior to getting into the game, Marcelo and Kaká had already been actively involved, as cheerleaders.
They, along with the others, encouraged teammates, lamented miss opportunities and cheered on the team.
Everyone looks fabulous in that blue color, no?
FIVE. Nuri Sahin’s brilliant performance, made all the more impressive given how few minutes he has played with Madrid this season, made us forget that Xabi wasn’t out there on Tuesday. In terms of posing, he didn’t disappoint either.
SIX. Cris had spent part of the warmup period conversing with Nuri, so whatever he said or advised, it worked. Cris is very expressive, isn’t he?
SEVEN. Three cheers for the sheerness of the shorts!
EIGHT. At the end of the game, Mou congratulated the rivals, our boys hugged each other, and Kaká and Kaká exchanged shirts. I didn’t know that APOEL had their own Kaká (real name: Claudiano Bezerra da Silva)! I wonder how he got the nickname, and if the two of them knew each other before the game, or was just united by the shared nickname and the novelty of exchanging jerseys with each other’s name on it.
And Iker and the rest of the team also made sure to thank the madridistas who had come to the game.
NINE. All of the players who spoke to the press after the game confirmed that the “law of silence” was a decision taken together by the coaching staff and players. Sergio also added, “we were silent for a reason.” Meanwhile, Kaká was asked about AC Milan and Barcelona’s upcoming game (which ended 0-0), to which he responded, “of course I’ll watch it and I’ll support Milan, like always.”
I love Sergio’s megawatt smile and Karim’s shy little smile, and the awkward moment when Benz decided to cross his arms, and then immediately changed his mind!
TEN. The Mou corner.
José Mourinho spoke with the press after the game (press conference and a TVE interview), and he also seemed to want to move on, saying, “to me, everything is good because we’re tranquil and we did our work in the best way possible. Some strange things happened to us. We didn’t want to talk about them at that time, and much less now that several weeks have passed.” He also praised APOEL for “playing well, with a lot of effort, but without talent since it doesn’t have the same economic power as other teams in the Champions. But it had a fantastic character.” He added that “APOEL has played very well in the tournament and if we won it’s because we worked very hard… I could not do better than Jovanovic in APOEL. I hope the Bernabéu will be full to pay tribute to APOEL, who deserves it. It’s the most important team in this edition of the Champions League.” [I was also very impressed by their fans.]
Nuri came in for some praise: “he played well. All of us, coaches and teammates, are very happy for him. He’s a fantastic boy who has worked very hard to overcome his situation. We thought it was an ideal game for him because we knew that we were going to have high ball possession and he thinks quickly.” And in response to a question on why he chooses to start Coentrão instead of Marcelo each time there’s an important game, Mou gave the following answer: “comparing Coentrão with Marcelo is a mission impossible because you can only compare comparable things. When you don’t have a point of comparison, then the things are incomparable.”
Plus, there was also this little exchange at the press conference.
Mou (in English): Casillas didn’t touch a ball.
Translator to Spanish (in Spanish): you referred to a player, can you please repeat his name?
Mou (in Spanish): I don’t remember, I don’t remember.
Translator: I don’t either, so what should we do now?
Mou: they understand English.
ELEVEN. Other things.
Iker posted this photo on his Facebook to show how united the team is, and to refute all the rumors going around. I’m happy to see this moment, and we also learn that Pipita and El Chori sat together as well on the way back!
And March 27 is World Theater Day, and so “Felicidades Busquets” (congratulations Busquets) became a trending topic on Twitter that day. Jajajajaja!!!!!