all set for Bayern Munich!
Madrid takes on Bayern Munich and our former coach, Jupp Heynckes – who helped Madrid to win La Séptima – tonight at 20:45h. However, La Octava is the recent Champions League win that I associate with Bayern Munich, because we of course eliminated them in the semifinals that year (we also eliminated them in the quarterfinals on the way to La Novena) in two memorable games, and because I miss Vicente del Bosque, Fernando Redondo and Iker Casillas with a full head of hair.
I will also always remember that Nicolas Anelka goal in the second leg, because his goals in those two games were basically the only positive things to come out of his time at Madrid. Well, that and this Marca cover. And this reminds me, there were some worries that Karim Benzema would become another Anelka, because he too is a bit withdrawn and timid, but I’m glad to see he has come out of his shell, and that he has made a real effort to learn Spanish and integrate to Spanish life.
On Monday morning, the team held its last training session at Valdebebas, where the entire team plus Tomy Mejías prepared for the upcoming game. All 24 of the players were called up for the game, so there’s no need to provide the usual list, no?
The team then traveled to Munich; the flight took two and a half hours. According to Madrid’s web site, the players spent the time resting, reading (Xabi and Esteban for sure), chatting (Pipa and Albiol, no doubt), listening to music (Sergio, no?) or watching movies. I wonder if Marcelo did end up sitting in the dreaded middle seat for the flight so that he could spend the two hours between his beloved Cristiano and Pepe.
I love it when Iker plays photographer!
After their arrival in Munich, they boarded a bus to take them to their hotel, the Westin Grand Munich.
José Mourinho and Sergio Ramos headed to the Allianz Arena to give the obligatory Champions League press conference. As Mou said, “I’m only speaking because the Champions League requires this, if not, I wouldn’t.” When Mou was asked what would happen if the team loses, he responded, “we can’t lose anything, because the only thing we could lose this season is the Copa del Rey, which was ours and which won’t be ours this season. With regards to the Copa del Rey, it’s better to forget the way in which we were eliminated from the competition. The Liga and the Champions are not ours, and we cannot lose what is not ours, we can only win, and that’s what we’re going to try and do until the end of the season.”
And when asked who he’ll line up to face Bayern Munich, Mou said, “I have no doubts regarding tomorrow, I know who will play, who will go to the bench and who will watch from the stands. This is one of those games in which I have no doubts. Normally, I like to go to sleep…
… knowing who will play, and sometimes I have doubts. But tomorrow’s game is one of those where I have thought so much about it, I have worked so hard on it that I have no doubts, but I’m not going to tell you all anything. The decision was easy. I’m tranquil.”
When it was his turn to speak, Sergio responded diplomatically to a question about Howard Webb. He said, “I think he’s a great referee, he has a lot of experience in this type of game and if I’m sincere, he brings back good memories for me because we fortunately won the World Cup, a game which he called. I’m happy that it’s him who is calling the game.” And when questioned about Mou, Sergio said, “he’s a coach with a lot of experience, we’re lucky to have him with us and to learn from him each day. The data and results are there, and for two consecutive years we have made it to the semifinals of the Champions, and the performance of each individual player is greater than it was a few years ago.”
In an interview with TVE, Mou also said that he has good memories of Webb, and when asked whether he would give press conferences in the Liga again this season, he replied, “that’s a question that I can’t answer because I don’t know.” And Sergio took advantage of being at the arena to take his picture there.
Later that evening, Iker posted some pictures on his Facebook (mmm… Iker in bed), and informed us that he was in his room “watching a German channel… I don’t understand anything!” He also called Álvaro Arbeloa “the strongest man in the world.”
Meanwhile, a bunch of the players’ wives and girlfriends traveled to Munich to support their men, and had a “girls night out,” as Carol Celico called it, at a Vietnamese restaurant, according to Nagore, who tweeted this photo. Here we have clockwise from the bottom left Carlota (Álvaro Arbeloa’s wife), Sara (Iker’s girlfriend), Jorgelina (Ángel’s wife), Clarice (Marcelo’s wife), Caroline (Kaká’s wife), Esther (Antonio Adán’s girlfriend), Nagore (Xabi’s wife) and Marta (José Callejón’s girlfriend; it looks like she brought her daughter Paula with her too!).
This morning, the team left the hotel to take a walk and have a stretching session, which lasted for about 15 minutes.
Hopefully we will be back in Munich in about one month’s time; Gonzalo Higuaín is optimistic about that! (Photo courtesy of Raúl Albiol, who else?)