ICYMI -the non-game moments edition
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Sporting [2012-04-14, Liga jornada 34].
Well, there’s not much to say about the game itself, since there wasn’t that much football played on our part, but the important thing is that we accomplished our mission, a win (thank goodness Cristiano came through for us). As Gonzalo Higuaín said after the game, “we have five games left in which, if we can’t play beautiful football, we still have to win because that’s what is going to bring us to Cibeles.”
ONE. As you will see, the majority of the things covered in this ICYMI post occurred before or after the game, and if they did take place during the game, it was when the ball was not in play. And one of the best moments out of those moments came after the game, when Sergio applauded the crowd, and then took his shirt off. Those are the magic words, aren’t they?
Sergio’s shirt was intended for a fan on the other side of the stadium, so to get back to the tunnel, Sergio had to jog all the way back across the field, and alone, because the rest of the players had already headed down the tunnel, putting him in the spotlight.
He then came back out to do Canal Plus’ post-game interview, and unfortunately, he was made to put on a jacket. He should have at least left it unzipped, no?
TWO. And now, a plethora of pre-game moments (don’t say I didn’t warn you). Cheers to Canal Plus for their excellent coverage. Prior to the game, we had Sergio letting his hair flow (perfectly) in the wind, and then tying it up, while Marcelo’s ‘fro bounced as he moved.
Marcelo is so adorable, no? And Nuri and Cris had the same slicked down hair! José’s was similar too!
Whatever José Callejón did made Nuri crack up; he has a lovely smile! Meanwhile the boys also took the time to encourage each other…
… and give each other kisses. It seems that everyone wants a piece of Pipita these days! The boys also had their best looks of concentration on…
… although there was of course time for joking around, high-fives and gratitude for the fans.
THREE. Meanwhile, Xabi decided to take Jontxu on a stadium tour, to visit a place he’s never been to before – Real Madrid’s bench. He sat down so he could feel what it’s like, having never experienced that before. I love how Xabi is dressed! Simple but elegant. And Jontxu looks like a handful!
FOUR. In this game, Madrid equaled the Liga’s single season record of goals scored, 107, set in the 1989-90 season by Real Madrid. Here’s the breakdown: Cris (41), Higuaín (21), Benzema (18), Di María (5), Kaká (5), Callejón (5), Marcelo (3), Sergio (3), Özil (1), Xabi (1), Pepe (1), Khedira (1), Varane (1), Altintop (1).
Each of our forwards scored one goal, and the best celebration came with Cristiano’s goal. Besides the usual group hug, Rui Faria also got quite animated in the bench area, although Mou remained stoic, despite Rui’s best efforts.
When the crowd serenaded Cristiano by singing his name, he responded by pointing at the escudo on his shirt. It reminds me of the day of his presentation (which was the subject of my fifth and sixth posts ever on this blog; this post is number 1,437! As you can see, back then I didn’t like the kissing of the escudo, but since then, Cris has won me over completely and more with his dedication, professionalism and that bromance with Marcelo/Pepe, plus Kaká). There was also this extra celebration with Mesut Özil – how adorable was it!
Cristiano also tied the mark for most goals scored by one player in a season, 41, which he set last year. Cris has scored in 22 of the 33 games he’s played in the Liga, and has seven hat tricks (Zaragoza, Rayo, Málaga, Osasuna, Sevilla, Levante, Atleti) and five doubles (Athleti, Atleti, Betis, Real Sociedad, Osasuna).
Karim Benzema closed out the goalscoring on Saturday night.
FIVE. A couple more moments, where our boys make the most mundane things – pointing and drinking water – somehow fascinating and compelling. By the way, did Iker and Mou get the same haircut?
SIX. After the game, the boys took the time out to thank the Bernabéu for their support. Only Sergio thanked me in the way I wanted them to, by removing their shirts (and underlayers, if applicable).
SEVEN. Marcelo was so adorable in the mixed zone!!!!! This is how the conversation went. That smile!
Q: Do you know that right now Barça is losing 1-0 in the Ciutat de Valencia? A: Well, we have to think about the Bayern Munich game. That’s all. The game in Munich (cracks up). Q: Why are you laughing? A: Because I’m happy. Q: Happy because Barça is losing? A: Ah? No, no, I’m happy, it doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. What a crack!!!!
EIGHT. The Esteban Granero pose section (trademark pending).
NINE. The Mou/Karanka corner.
We were treated to a full episode of “The Mou Show” on Saturday night. Besides the usual gestures, faces and little tantrums…
… Mou was also involved in two other incidents. The first one came late in the first half, when the game was going on and after two balls came flying onto the field from the direction of the Sporting bench. Mou went over to the bench to speak with Quini, and he was pushed, which led to a little incident right in front of the fourth official. Mou then made the gesture of “they’re crazy” twice as he headed back to his bench. He received a yellow card for this incident, while Rui Faria was also written up in the match report for leaving his area to recriminate an action by the other team.
Then after Madrid scored its third goal, Mou celebrated with a corte de mangas (I don’t know what the term in English is), although it didn’t seemed to be aimed at anyone, as he did it in the direction of the bench, so it might just have been a way to release his tension. Still, not something you want to see, as it’s not sportsmanlike conduct.
After the game, it was Aitor Karanka speaking to the press, which was wonderful, because I’m tired of seeing track suits in the press room. Aitor was very nicely dressed, in a fashion very similar to Xabi.
In his post-game declarations, he spoke about the team reaching 107 goals: “it’s the result of the work of a group of fantastic players who are making many people happy, and who deserve to be champions, although they have to continue fighting. There are games left, but this is for those who say Mourinho is a defensive coach.” As for the performance of his players, Aitor said, “the more difficult things are, the more pressure there is, that’s when the team appears.”
TEN. Other things.
The team held a moment of silence before the game for the death of Piermario Morosini. Terrible, it was just terrible; each time something like that happens, you hope it’s the last time, no? DEP Piermario.
And here is the moment when the boys (or should I say children) were boarding the bus to begin the concentración on Friday night. As you can see, Angelito tried to cut the line, but Sergio wouldn’t let him. Taking advantage of everyone being distracted, Álvaro Arbeloa tried to push his way past the rest, eluding José Callejón in the process, only to be rebuffed by Antonio Adán with an elbow and a glare. Gonzalo Higuaín then got involved by trying to pinch Álvaro’s ear as he headed up, making Sergio, José and Ángel crack up. And we also had Jesús being all timid. I love them so much!
And of course, what’s a concentración without a picture of Karim Benzema in his hotel room?
ELEVEN. Things that happened on Sunday.
On Sunday, the team returned to training to begin preparing for Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal against Bayern Munich, with 22 players plus Jesús working out at Valdebebas in very windy conditions.
Meanwhile, in another part of the complex, Castilla played Atlético B in a game in which they could qualify for the playoffs (with a place in the second division at stake) with a win. And that’s what the boys did, with Álex scoring a goal in their 1-0 win, which saw Nacho expelled. Mou was on hand to watch Castilla, and MFC ABMM was also in one of the palcos, as he was suspended for this game. Castilla remains the leader of their group with 71 points. Their next game is against Real Oviedo on Sunday, where they’ll try and achieve their next objective, to win their group. It was also the “official day of the cantera,” and so all of the other 12 teams that make up La Fábrica were present at the Alfredo di Stéfano to cheer on Castilla.
To celebrate his goal, Álex kissed the escudo. He tweeted after the game, “here I am giving a kiss to the best escudo in the world, Hala Madrid.” Meanwhile, Nacho tweeted about “my brother’s goal, the redhead, yes!!!!” and about how it was “impossible” for him to be happier, “thanks to my brother.”
This particular goal celebration made me think of José Callejón, for the escudo kissing, and because Pedro Mosquera jumped on Álex’s back and rode him around, like Mou had done to Calleti. In other cantera news, Juvenil A qualified for the Copa del Rey after winning against Numancia, and Juvenil B became Real Madrid’s first champions of the season, winning Group 12 of the Liga Nacional (again) with three games left. They have a record of 23-3-1. I wholeheartedly approve of the way they celebrated! Please, please, please, porfa let this give the first team some ideas!!!!!
I hope some of them make it to the first team down the road!
TWELVE. Bonus The Xabi Alonso pose section™.