all set for Osasuna!
Real Madrid takes on Osasuna tonight (20h) as we continue to try and hold on to (and hopefully widen, that is, if Athletic and Javi (!!!) come through for us) our lead in the Liga. We have both bad and good memories of the Reyno de Navarra, but since I like to focus on the positive, what I remember is Gonzalo Higuaín’s last minute golazo there on May 4, 2008, which gave us our 31st Liga (such memories – wet players in a manpile, Iker celebrating like a crazy man, bleeding Gaby Heinze, Diarra biting Pipita’s shirt…). Anyway, if Pipita – the only player on the current team to have scored for Madrid in Pamplona (Granero did it with Getafe) – scores tonight, it will be his 100th goal in white.
Presenting my new favorite boyband, KKRMM! Check out their new single, “Iker, Y U So Pale?”, which follows their smash platinum record, “Heartbreaker (Yeah U Pipita).”
After one day off, the team returned to training, the first of two sessions before this Saturday’s game at the always difficult Reyno de Navarra against Osasuna. Nacho and Tomás Mejías joined 19 players from the first team in the session, while the good news came in the form of the presence of José Callejón, who jogged and did ball exercises with Carlos Lalín.
Mesut’s hair looked good no? I like what the wind did to it! And of course, Marcelo made sure that the canteranos felt right at home.
Over in the UAE, FP helped to lay the cornerstone of the future Real Madrid Resort Island. He was accompanied to Ras al-Khaimah by JAS, Emilio Butragueño and Zinedine Zidane.
On Friday, Madrid trained once again in Valdebebas. Tomás Mejías joined 19 first team players, including José Callejón, who trained at the same intensity as his teammates. Nevertheless, he didn’t make the cut for the game, and neither did Pepe, as he’s sanctioned for this game. Missing out due to sickness is Sami Khedira, while Lass and Carvalho are injured. Ángel di María is making his return after a month and a half out due to injury, though Mou said at the press conference that Angelito is not ready to play all 90 minutes yet.
(Check out this article from AS. Someone has written that Lass is out due to a “phantom pregnancy” and Carvalho due to “old age.” Jajaja!!! Does AS not have an editor?)
The C team…
Seen at the session: Álvaro Arbeloa bouncing a ball off of Pipita Higuaín’s head while the latter was deep in conversation with Raúl Albiol, so it was totally an attempt to break up the conversation, no? Even though the throw didn’t look like there was too much power behind it, Pipita rubbed his head and gave Alvarito a little shove. Another moment was Cris making his shorts super short. Maybe the equipment managers should request super short shorts (think the NBA in the 1980s) from Adidas for Cris? See the rest of the video here…
… and also check out this one of the team doing their warm-up exercises. Look out for Gonzalo chattering away (1:04), Iker and Kaká trying to coordinate their movements (2:07), Cris shoving Marcelo and then Marcelo aiming a kick at Cris (2:12), Marcelo and Cris starting the dancing (2:24), and continuing, well at least Cris did (2:35 and 2:50).
The call-up list is as follows.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Adán, Tomás Mejías.
Defenders: Varane, Arbeloa, Marcelo, Ramos, Albiol, Coentrão.
Midfielders: Altintop, Sahin, Özil, Granero, Kaká, Xabi Alonso, Di María.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Higuaín, Benzema.
The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
At his press conference, Mou was accompanied by his assistants Rui Faria and Aitor Karanka. When asked a question about whether he and Iker get along (there have been rumors lately that a huge rift exists between the two), with the reporter mentioning “you and the people around you,” Mou responded, “I don’t have people around me. That doesn’t exist. There are people who speak or identify themselves as being my people, but I don’t have anyone. I could have people for my private issues, for my social life, for my investments, for my things, but on a sporting level, I don’t have anyone. In terms of sports, my people are those two who are here (indicating Rui Faria and Aitor Karanka) and the other two who are downstairs (Silvino Lauro and José Morais). But I don’t have people. It’s just me, no one else. As for the story about Casillas, it is a good story, but it doesn’t exist, I have no problem with him and I don’t have any problems with any player.” [José Mario was at the training session, and he, his father and Iker were seen chatting.]
When asked why he decided to speak with the press today when he hadn’t after the last two games, Mou responded that it was a good question, but not his problem, rather that of the press: “it’s like this. Last season, after the Champions League semifinals, we came out to speak, we spoke from the heart, and you all killed us. This season, in the Copa we came out once again criticizing the referee, we opened our hearts again and we were criticized for this. In Villarreal, we all decided not to speak about this game, we weren’t going to criticize, we weren’t going to speak in the heat of the moment, we weren’t going to say anything that later on we could be sanctioned for. We went to dinner, we ate, we didn’t like the meal, but we went home in the most tranquil way possible without creating any controversies. We believed that we were doing something positive, but in the end, you all criticized us just the same. That’s why the problem is not ours, but yours, you all have to decide what’s the best way: speaking the truth and possibly creating controversies, and speaking no matter what the situation is, or not speaking in situations when we believe there might be controversies or problems or criticism of those who deserve to be criticized. You all have to decide which of the two is the best. Because the consequence for us is the same. We were criticized when we spoke and criticized when we didn’t speak… but I think we did well. There was not a single word of criticism directed towards that man who was the referee after the game. Not one word, not from me and not from the players. I think we did well.”
Yes, that’s right, his answer was more of an essay than an answer.
Following the training session, the team traveled to Pamplona, landing at Noáin around 2oh on Friday afternoon. Around 350 fans were waiting for them at the airport, and so Iker and Sergio stopped to sign some autographs between the airport terminal and where the team bus was parked. From the airport, the team traveled to their hotel, where about 500 fans were waiting for them. Since the hotel is located close to the site of the botellón at the Carpa Universitaria (the biggest university party in Pamplona, which lasted until 06h on Saturday morning), many (possibly) drunk students came to “welcome” them with whistles and shouts of things like “tonight you’re not going to sleep!” and one person even threw a bottle of kalimotxo at the bus, without causing any damage.
The hotel had made sure that it was properly soundproofed earlier this week, so hopefully the players were able to have a good night’s sleep.
Later that evening, Xabi Alonso and Ángel di María came out to sign autographs and pose for pictures with fans in the traditional meet and greet session. Several years down the road, that little kid is going to regret that he couldn’t muster up a smile when he literally had Xabi Alonso’s head a few mere centimeters from his own.
Other things. I can’t let this one go by without talking about it. On Thursday in the Europa League, Schalke was taking on Athletic, and since Schalke is full of former madridistas and Athletic full of Javi (!!!) (and perhaps a couple of future madridistas? Actually, I like those boys where they are and hope they won’t leave), I watched that game, and it was incredible, especially Raúl. What a game! And his second goal? It was a bit reminiscent of Zizou’s goal to win La Novena, no? Guti tweeted, “you’re God, Rulo, our great captain is incredible.” And Fernando Llorente, who also had a fantastic performance, said after the game, “what Raúl is doing is incredible, that bastard [said affectionately] continues to score goals in pairs. He’s a phenomenon, and I’m happy things are going well for him as well.” And Óscar de Marcos said, “Raúl is spectacular, for me he was the best one in the game.” A day earlier, when Javi (!!!) had been asked about playing against Raúl, he said, “it’s going to be an honor to face Raúl. Raúl is special for his way of being, for his competitiveness and for the effort he’s always shown on the field.”
On Friday at his press conference, Pep Guardiola said the following of Raúl (hopefully it’s missing the usual sarcasm and irony that his statements are known for): “I would say Raúl is the most important Spanish player of all time. He’s impressive. He’s the best, he has been the best. Yesterday, he scored a volley goal, and the first goal is something he’s done 500 times. He’s an example for all those who are just starting in football. He’s played so many years, he’s scored so many goals in his career. He’s incredible.”
I loved this tweet from Kaká, after he finished chatting with his followers: “Tks for all messages. Nice chat with you guys. Now it’s time to play Mario Bros with Luca. He’s always Luigi, cause it has L like Luca.” How adorable is Luca? And please tell me that Kaká plays as Princess Peach (if she’s available). And Ángel di María has been honored with a London Underground stop named after him, in the run-up to the Summer Olympics. All of the stops have been renamed after famous Olympic athletes, putting Ángel in the same company as athletes such as Michael Phelps, Cassius Clay, Michael Jordan…
And how cute is Marcelo? He has the most adorable face!
If you understand Spanish, read this article.
And of course, Friday was Sergio’s birthday, and his friend Gabriel Lijtenstein recruited a bunch of Sergio’s nearest and dearest to make a video for him. I’m always partial to Alejandro Sanz, but I loved Alexis (Mister Chip) with the trophy on his head and Carlos Latre’s imitations!