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all set for Barcelona!

April 21, 2012

Remember how last year five clásicos in one season was considered extremely excessive and we all nearly had heart attacks?  Well, today’s (20h) is the sixth one of this current season!  And there’s the possibility of one more, if both Madrid and Barça can turn things around in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal clashes.  So you know what that means: alcohol, chocolate and a nice pair of expensive shoes all picked out for purchase to celebrate or as consolation (hopefully, it’s the former; I’m not even considering the latter.  However, if it does occur, these might be helpful as well.  They’re great, aren’t they?).  Anyway, our boys are in Barcelona and all set to play!

ONE.  THE PREPARATIONS.

Preparations for this weekend’s clásico began on Thursday at Valdebebas, after the players got one day off following their game in Munich.  All 23 players trained on Campo 2, alongside Tomás Mejías.  I love the variety of headwear, although the way Karim Benzema has styled his makes him look like The Cat in the Hat.

The team trained again on Friday as they finished preparing for the game.  According to Marca, Mou had Madrid’s gardeners excessively water the pitch so that it would resemble that of Camp Nou.  There was also a half-hour long video session before the start of the practice.

Iker played photographer again, and once again with excellent results.  More from the locker room, por favor, Iker!

In difference with previous jornadas, the players weren’t required to begin the concentración that very day; instead the team were due at Valdebebas at 10h on Saturday morning for a quick stretching session before heading to the airport.  The club also did not release a list of the players called up for the game, and in the end, 20 players traveled.  Lass, Altintop, Carvalho and Sahin were left behind in Madrid.  After the team arrived in Barcelona (as you can see below and here, it looks like Gonzalo decided to let Álvaro and Raúl be together), they headed to their hotel, the Rey Juan Carlos I, in a bus distinct than the one they usually use, to avoid any incidents.

At Friday’s press conference, it was once again Aitor Karanka speaking and at least this time there were no questions about why it was him and not Mou.  When quizzed about how the team is preparing for the game, he said, “Real Madrid has planned this game in the same way, with the same desire, as it has the last three times it went to the Camp Nou for three different competitions… there’s no need for our attitude to be different for tomorrow’s game.  We’re not going to change our style there…. Win or lose, there will be four games left after this one, and we’re going to continue working with the same naturalness that we have up to know.  We’ll maintain this until the end, whether we win, tie or lose.”  Aitor also defended Fábio Coentrão, telling the journalists, “Fábio did the work that he was given.  Robben was unable to beat him, he didn’t score a goal, he couldn’t get into the game.  He (Fábio) played well.  It’s always easy to criticize, but it won’t have a effect on tomorrow [on whether Coentrão or Marcelo starts].”

TWO.  A COUPLE OF VIDEOS.

Iker filmed a teaser for a Russian movie, “Vyacheslav Malafeev,” which is apparently a movie about “a whole life spent wearing gloves” (I had to contract the services of Iker’s best friend to figure that out).  In the little clip, Iker attempts to speak Russian, though he has a hard time getting it out.  He also speaks Spanish (“a ver” and “¡joder!”) and a bit of English (“repeat please”).  He even hums a bit too!  And as you can see, the teaser was filmed in El Rincón de Iker!

Iker’s so adorable when he messes up!  The gif at the end is him saying “joder” and then “repeat please.”

More Iker: in an interview with Fútbol Mundial, Iker was asked a series of questions.  On what he would do if he were coach of Madrid: I would like to try and be like José Mourinho, to have a role similar to his.  On what he would do if he were 18 again: I would fight to play for Real Madrid, to win titles again and live a new experience.  On who he would like to know: in football, Pelé, Maradona and Beckenbauer.  I’d like to sit down at a table with them and have them tell me their experiences, a bit of what they have experienced in football.  On what he would change about himself: I would change how spiteful I am.  I don’t know if it’s a virtue or a defect, but I’m quite spiteful.  On what he would do if he weren’t a footballer: I would have been a police officer, to bring order to the streets.

Xabi Alonso and Gerard Piqué, who are two of the current faces of the FIFA 12 game, spoke about the upcoming clásico and their gaming habits.  Here’s Xabi’s part of “el test.”

Do you believe you could beat Piqué at FIFA 12?  I believe so, I believe I would be the winner of such a game.  Would you score many goals?  Well, for sure more than in real life, no (laughs)?  Do you have any superstitions before you go onto the field?  In reality, when you have a superstition, you always follow the same routine and you take the same steps.  And before you play FIFA 12?  I warm up my thumbs a bit, I try to make sure my fingers are prepared to be as fast as possible.  What do you think about the virtual you?  The virtual me is quite a success, it surprises me how it even has the same gestures as me, I suppose they’re always updating and improving it year after year [as you can see in the video, the virtual Xabi even stops and poses!!!!].

Do you play FIFA 12 a lot?  Yes, especially during the concentraciones when we’re in the hotel.  There are always rivalries between teammates and there’s a lot of tension.  Who do you usually play FIFA 12 with?  Usually Albiol, Arbeloa, Sergio… they’re big fans as well.  Which is a bigger challenge, a real game or a FIFA 12 game?  Due to the rivalry and great atmosphere in the locker room, the FIFA games are very intense, because a lot is at stake and we spend the next few days talking about them.  They’re very important to us.  What do you think about before you step onto the field?  I try to be focused and visualize what could happen during the game and how to anticipate situations.  Your thoughts on how your team is represented in FIFA 12?  Good, we have great players, we play well as a team and so we have good results, hopefully it will be like that in real life as well.

Watch the video here.  Xabi’s part starts around the 2:00 minute mark.  The gifs are from this video, where Xabi speaks about how he’s trained a lot, with FIFA 12, FIFA 11, FIFA 10, and to be sure not to miss the clásico.

THREE.  DATA AND FACTS FROM MISTER CHIP.

a tie: Madrid and Barça have played 218 official games, with a balance of 86 wins for Madrid, 86 for Barça and 46 ties.

seven clásicos without a win: from the 2011 Copa del Rey final, Madrid has played seven clásicos, without winning any of them (one in the Liga, two in the Copa, two in the Supercopa, two in the Champions).  One more loss will mean equalizing the worst drought in the history of the clásicos, set by Barcelona between March 3, 2001 and Dec. 6, 2003.

Cristiano and Barça: Cristiano has scored against all the rivals in this current edition of the Liga except Barça and Mallorca.  If he scores today, he’ll equal Baltazar (1988-89), Bebeto (1992093) and Pizzi (1995-96), who all scored against 18 different teams in the same league.  In the last jornada, Cris can try and equal the record of Ronaldo, who scored against 19 different teams in the 1996-97 season (in that season, there were 22 clubs in the league).

Messi and Madrid: Messi has not scored in three consecutive clásicos, which is his worst streak.  If he scores today, he’ll equal César as the maximum azulgrana goalscorer in the history of the clásicos, with 14 goals.  Gento and Puskas also scored 14, while the overall record is held by Di Stéfano with 18, followed by Raúl with 15.

winning Saturdays: for the last two years, Madrid hasn’t lost an away game on a Saturday.  The last time was on Jan. 16, 2010 at San Mamés.  From that point on, the team has racked up 22 games without a loss on Saturday.  Between 2008 and 2011, Barcelona notched up a streak of 35 Saturdays without a loss as the visiting team.

the sixth clásico: for the first time in history, we have six official clásicos in the same season (two in the Liga, two in the Copa and two in the Supercopa de España).  In 1982-83 and 2010-11, there were five.  Barça could win its fourth clásico of the season, which it has never done before.

losing to the rival: only two teams have become Liga champions while losing the two games against the team that would become the runner up.  It happened to Madrid in 1975-76 (Barça was the runner up) and Athletic in 1982-83 (Madrid was the runner up).

European losses: this will be the third clásico where both Madrid and Barça are coming in after suffering losses in Europe.  The first time it happened (1966), Madrid won 1-0, and the second time (1970), Barça won 0-1.

after losing in Munich: Madrid has played three clásicos after losing in Munich and hasn’t lost one: 1-0 in 1966 (they lost 1-0 against Munich 1860), 0-0 in 1987 (a 4-1 loss to Bayern Munich) and 3-3 in 2007 (after losing 2-1 to Bayern Munich).

record of 108 goals: Madrid is one goal away from surpassing the record 107 set in 1989-90.  The best record in the four big European leagues (Spain, England, Germany, Italy) belongs to Aston Villa, which scored 128 goals in 42 games in the 1930-31 season.

goal difference: Madrid’s current goal difference (+78) is the best in the history of the Liga, followed by Barça’s +74 in 2009-10 and 2010-11.  The best record in the big four is Torino’s +92 (125 goals in favor and 33 against) in 1947-48.

three with 20: Cris and Higuaín have surpassed 20 goals in this Liga.  Benzema has 18 and if he scores two more before the season ends, Madrid will achieve something no one else has: three players with 20 or more goals.  Eto’o, Messi and Henry were on the brink of doing that in 2008-09, but Henry finished the season with 19.

Cristiano vs. Messi: they’re the second pair in the history of the big four to reach 40 goals apiece (with five games left) in the same season.  In the 1930-31 season in the Premier League, Aston Villa’s Pongo Waring scored 49 and Sheffield United’s Jimmy Dune scored 41.

eight expulsions: in the last 10 clásicos in all competitions, there have been 10 expulsions, eight for Madrid and two for Barcelona.  In his 20 official games against Barcelona with Chelsea, Inter and Madrid, Mourinho has seen 11 of his players sent off.  In total, he’s played with fewer players for three hours and 48 minutes against Barcelona.

FOUR.  NUMBER ONES.

Last week, Marca ran an interview with socios number one from Madrid and Barcelona, José Diego and Jaume Descals, respectively.  José has been a socio for 82 of his 96 years, and he received the card with the number one last year, while Jaume is 89, has been a socio since he was three years old and the number one since three years ago.  Here are some excerpts from the interview, José’s part.

on being socio number 1: I feel happy, joder, I’ve been a socio for 82 years!  I received the card last year, the day of the Champions League game against Tottenham.

on whether he goes to games: I don’t go anywhere, I can’t anymore and I don’t have a car.  I only go to the dinners that Madrid invites me to.  My son goes with me.

on how he came to be number one: ¡Joroba!  I played football in what was called the Campo de las Calaveras (field of skulls), next to the cemetery.  I always liked Real Madrid, but at home, no one liked football, so when I turned 14, I became a socio out of my own initiative.  I don’t remember how much it cost me, but it couldn’t have been too much because I didn’t have a lot of money.  I began watching football, I would go alone, take the tram and then walk to the field.

on the greatest player he’s seen: for me, it’s Di Stéfano, there would be others after him, but no one I liked as much.  The day of his tribute, I had dinner at the same table as him and Santiago Bernabéu.

on the current players: what can you say about Ronaldo!  And then there is Iker, who is madrileño, who has risen through the ranks.  That’s wonderful for a fan like me.  I would like there for there to be many more madrileños on the team.  In Barça, there are more catalanes playing there than madrileños with Madrid.  They’re very well organized, and their cantera is better than that of Madrid.

on his favorite coach: I don’t have preferences, but perhaps Miguel Muñoz, who was there for many years.  Mourinho?  He’s one more coach in Madrid.  Listen, in two or three years, they’ll get tired of working here or Madrid will get tired and change him.

on clásicos: I have to say that I don’t watch on TV when Madrid plays Barça, because something could happen to me!  I don’t watch them.  My son Rafa tapes them for me.  If the result is a good one, I go to his house and watch the game… If we lose, I’m in a bad mood, although my son Rafa is worse.  When we lose, I don’t even buy newspapers or watch TV.  Everyone in my family knows it and all of them are Madrid supporters, girlfriends, wives, my eight grandchildren and my four great-grandchildren.

FIVE.  THE FUTURE.

I’ve seen the future, and it’s adorable.  I never noticed that Fernando Pacheco has that dimple.

SIX.  THE ETERNAL CAPTAIN.

In other news, Raúl has announced that he will be leaving Schalke at the end of this season.  He revealed that he would continue to play football, although not in Europe.  It appears that Qatar could be his next destination, if media reports are to believed, so in that way, he’ll be following in the footsteps of his great friends Fernando Hierro and Pep Guardiola.  During the press conference, Raúl said, “I will always keep these two years here in my heart.  I want to thank the entire coaching team, the employees of the club and the fans, who always supported me.”  Meanwhile, the club announced that they would hold a testimonial match for him in 2013 and retire his number.  Isn’t it time that Madrid honors Rulo????

SEVEN.  A FUTURE CAPTAIN?

Reader Ana was kind enough to translate the rest of the Cristiano Ronaldo interview with TVI.  Here are the highlights.  ¡Gracias Ana!

You come from a poor family and went to Lisbon, at 12 years old, alone… you missed your family terribly. You cried a lot, experienced loneliness. At 18, you went to Manchester. A new country, where you didn’t know anyone, you didn’t speak the language. Has your path, in a way, changed the person you are today?

No doubt about it. I think everything I went through reflects who I am today. If we analyze 90 percent of the footballers, most of them were born in poor families. I am one of them. Thank goodness, everything I have today is deserved. I worked really hard to get there with the support of my family, friends, club directors, managers, etc. Of course I had a bit of luck too, but luck only comes to those who look for it. I went looking for it and today all I have is due to my effort.

How is your relationship with José Mourinho?

Perfect. It’s an amazing relationship. Before I knew him as a coach, I already knew we’d get along well. We have pretty much the same principles. He is the best. To me, it is a pleasure to work with the best. I consider myself one of the best and therefore I like working with the best too. It’s easy.

Would you be willing to follow Mourinho if he left Real Madrid and went back to England?

Oh, that question is… hmmm, I can’t answer you in a politically correct way but what I want is to stay at Real Madrid. I don’t like to follow anyone. I’d go for my value as a player, not friendships. But the most important thing is to have a great season in Madrid and finish on a high note. The future belongs to God, but I want to stay there.

In the last two years your life has changed a lot. Not just sports wise, but personally too. Your son will be two years in June. How has his birth changed your life?

It changed a lot. Before he was born, I used to wonder… “is it going to change my life”?  And it did… for the best. I’m much calmer and serene. I look at life in a different way. You probably know what I’m talking about if you have kids. There are things we don’t talk about, we just feel. It’s been a unique experience for me. When he calls me “papá” I melt completely. It’s a fantastic experience.

Are you able to spend a lot of time with him, being such a busy person?

Yes, of course. Sometimes I can’t. It’s tougher when I have meetings with the NT or Real Madrid, but other than that, I spend almost all my free time with him. He lives with me, so I really enjoy his company.

Do you play football together?

He plays football, but right now, he prefers cars. He likes to ride with me.

Oh, so he inherited that passion from his dad.

I’d like him to be a footballer. I think I’ll encourage him to be one but if he doesn’t have the capacity to be one, he’ll be what he wants to be.

We’re aware you’re living a happy moment personally too. That’s an important stability factor as well.

Like I said before, having a very supportive family and girlfriend is important, not that I think it’s the most important thing. I think I’ve been almost the same for the past five years. Regardless of whether I’m in a relationship or single, as long as I’m good psychologically, things will reflect well on the pitch. But of course, if everything goes well with the family and girlfriend, it will be better.

Are there any wedding plans?

No, there aren’t. Not yet (smiles)… One day I’ll get married but it’s not on my plans… I would like to have more kids. I come from a big family, so we’ll see.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Cindy permalink
    April 21, 2012 16:55

    HALA MADRID. Good luck to our boys and the fans who are there at Capm Nou. Me, I’m a scardy cat, for I am going to the movies to escape. I’ll look at the score after.

    Una as usual a wonderful job.

    • Cindy permalink
      April 21, 2012 16:57

      Whoops one more thing. Why oh why doesn’t Mou use Sahin.:(

  2. April 21, 2012 17:10

    senor diego’s part is really interesting thanks for translating Una ❤

  3. Jenny permalink
    April 21, 2012 17:42

    Raul is the best part of this post!

    The fans in Germany love Raul. They’ll never forget him. He scored beautiful goals, he gave everything for Schalke and he danced and sang with the fans on a beautiful night when he (and they) made it into the champions league semi-final (and for both it had been a long time!)

    His teammates adore him – even fans from other teams love “Senor Raul” as he was called! Everyone is Raul mad. And he loves them back! Here’s what he said about them:

    … his time at Schalke: I’ve been with Schalke for nearly two years and have really enjoyed my time here. It’s been a wonderful stage in my life with lots of highlights. I’ve always felt really comfortable here and I’ve been given lots of love and affection. Once again I’d like to thank the coaches, my team-mates and all the staff at the club for making sure I have always been happy here during the last two years. Obviously I’d also like to give special thanks to the fans, who have given me such incredible support all the time. What is certain is that Schalke is a part of my life and always will be.

    … his relationship with the Schalke fans: Schalke fans really are something special. They’ve shown me an incredible amount of love and affection over the last two years. It’s hard for me to find the right words to describe it. To come anywhere near to paying back the fans for what they have given me, I should have scored lots more goals and won more titles.

    … his best moments at Schalke: I’ve had a great time and there have been several but winning the DFB Cup in my first year was definitely very special. I played for Real Madrid for so many years and won so many titles but strangely enough I never won the cup there so that was a special moment in my career. Another highlight came in the minutes after the win over Inter Milan in the Champions League quarter-final. It was a very emotional moment for me when I was on the fence with the fans and the megaphone. (lol – see above!)

    And here is the full list of honours he’ll get from the club:

    There will be a farewell ceremony during Schalke’s last home game of the season, vs Hertha Berlin on April 28th.
    There will be a farewell match sometime in 2013.
    This summer (2012), he will be inducted into Schalke’s Hall of Fame.
    The number 7 will be retired indefinitely.

    Having this beautiful, stunning, hard-working, dedicated man in Germany was such a delight! Auf Wiedersehen Raul!

  4. Yojo permalink
    April 21, 2012 22:03

    I love it! I had dreamed of this result! What a way to shut all the haters. Eat your words Ray Hudson and Phil Schoen: it has to be Cristiano Ronaldo to score the winner! LOL! Hala Madrid!

  5. April 21, 2012 23:48

    I CAN’T BELIEVE WE WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for this post, I loved it – was smiling the whole time while scrolling through it! I wanted to write a longer comment, but I can’t concentrate, because I’m still crying tears of happiness and laughing and smiling and just being happy, because Real Madrid beat BARCELONA. At Camp Nou. I can’t believe it.

  6. Dia permalink
    April 22, 2012 07:59

    Wow, CR’s answer to that “wedding plans” question was interesting. He sounded very non-committal.

  7. los blanco permalink
    April 22, 2012 15:20

    Una, can you create a fan page on facebook, so we could follow you there too with your updates?

  8. April 23, 2012 04:36

    Yes Una, I also long for the day when Madrid honors the legend Raul…the fact that Schalke is retiring el siete for him is something astounding and appreciated by fans. I miss him with Los Blancos and await the day he returns as part of the team, in any way.

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