all set for Sevilla!
Madrid takes on Sevilla this afternoon (morning?) at 12h, and before the day is done, we could be singing the alirón! If Madrid wins this game and Barcelona loses to Rayo Vallecano (21:30h), then we’ll be champions and winners of our 32nd Liga! And if that happens, well it is just too bad that Cibeles isn’t on the way between the Estadio de Vallecas and Barajas! Speaking of Cibeles (picture via AS), the city government has prepared the goddess and her chariot for a possible celebration tonight.
Madrid trained on Friday and Saturday at Valdebebas in preparation for this weekend’s early game against Sevilla (Sevilla has spent the past two days training at Valdebebas as well, since Míchel – who of course knows the installations very well – wanted to avoid his players getting distracted by the Feria de Abril. I wonder if Sergio will pop down to Sevilla after this game to enjoy a few hours of the festivities and a bullfight since today is the last day of the fair?).
For the past two days, José Mourinho has been able to count on all his players, plus Tomás Mejías, once again on loan from Castilla. Nevertheless, just 19 of them were called up for the game. The absences were once again Sahin, Altintop, Lass and Carvalho, plus Rafa Varane, all due to the coach’s decision.
Iker and the ‘keepers: Iker, Adán, Mejías.
The dominant defenders: Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo, Coentrão, Albiol, Arbeloa.
The midfield marshals: Kaká, Özil, Granero, Alonso, Khedira, Callejón, Di María.
The fantastic frontline: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín.
The team started the concentración on Saturday afternoon, and as you can see, the Portuguese speakers were in a good mood, while Gonzalo Higuaín and Raúl Albiol were once again stuck at the hip.
Aitor Karanka appeared in the press room after the session to speak about all the issues that the journalists wanted to ask him about. With regards to the upcoming game, he said, “the team is anxiously awaiting this game. The players are still sad over the elimination, but they are proud and have a desire to work hard to achieve a happiness that is close by. We’re going to fight for that until the end, and for us, it’s a pleasure to work with this group, seeing how after going through a bad moment, they’re ready to move forward.”
With regards to Peter Lion’s recent comments that (more or less) he wouldn’t return to Real Madrid since José Mourinho is continuing as coach, Aitor said, “I think Pedro is wrong. If he’s not coming back next year, it’s not because Mourinho is here, but because of the season he’s had, it has been practically the same as the one he had here last year. To return here, the clear example is José Callejón. You have to show your quality, play and deserve to come back. To play in Madrid, you have to demonstrate things, and Callejón, for example, has done that. This is what is important, not who the coach is.” Ouch! Aitor was more affectionate with Ricardo Carvalho: “for Ricardo, it has been a bad season, because a player of his quality and charisma always wants to play. He’s a professional, a player that has won many things in his career and one of those who always trains hard with the age he has and is an example for others. It’s a shame, but you have to choose 11 and then seven others for the call-up. It’s a shame that he can’t go, but we have to choose.”
According to AS, Madrid is now going for what will be a record 100 points (at the moment, they have 88, which means they have to win all four of the remaining games to set a new record), which would beat Barça’s 99 points record, set in the 2009-10 season. In addition, Madrid could set the new record for the most number of wins, which would be 32. The team is currently at 28, and has a shot at beating the record set by Barça and Madrid of 31 wins in the 2009-10 season. In addition, Madrid has beaten every single other team in the Liga at once, the 12th time that’s happened in Liga history. Plus, the team could also set the record for most number of away wins. At the moment, they’re at 14, which ties with last season’s Barça for the top mark. Madrid has two more road games, at Athletic and Granada.
According to media reports, Madrid has signed a contract to play a game in Kuwait once the season ends. The game will take place on May 15, and they will probably face an all-star team from Kuwait.
¡Ánimo Canales! That’s all I can say to the pobrecito!
And Álvaro Arbeloa was the latest star of the “today we train with…” series. Surprisingly, this is the first time we’ve seen anyone in the gym, although I’m sure that when it’s Cristiano’s turn, we’ll once again return to the gym.
I love that Marcelo shows up throughout the video to laugh. And Marcelo and Pepe teamed up to make Alvarito fall over; remember how Kaká and Marcelo schemed together last time to do the same to Pepe?
A sort of ICYMI post…
I decided not to do an ICYMI post for the Bayern Munich second leg game, because I couldn’t bear the thought of having to watch the game again to capture all the moments; I hope you can understand. With that said, there are still a few things I want to highlight from the game, including the amazing scene of the Bernabéu evoking the “spirit of Juanito.”
After the game, Iker told Telemadrid, “the first thing I have to do is thank the fans for their support. There’s no need to think anymore about this, penalties are what they are, they’re a lottery and so there’s no need to reflect any more. We played well, we had a lot of hope, the team played good football, but Bayern is a good team, and we have to congratulate them.” I’m so glad we have a captain that knows what to say after a defeat! And our second captain also praised Bayern, saying they are a “equipazo.” I also loved what he said about whether he’d take a penalty again: “if tomorrow I’m chosen to kick it again, I’ll do it, because when you’re feeling confident you want to help the team. It’s a lot of pressure but I’ve always known how to handle it.” Meanwhile, third captain Marcelo commented that “we’re a team and if someone fails, then everyone fails, and if one wins, then everyone wins… we’re warriors who gave everything we had to win… we didn’t achieve the victory but we were left with the feeling that we’re a great team. Penalties are a lottery. If you don’t have luck, it won’t go in. Those who shot them have to hold their heads up high.”
Via his Facebook, Iker also wrote “thank you very much to Cristiano, Sergio Ramos and Kaká for being brave in such a difficult moment. You’re great! No one should doubt that!!!” And Álvaro Arbeloa tweeted, “a big hug for Cristiano, Sergio and Kaká. You’re the best.”
At his press conference, José Mourinho affirmed that he will continue to coach Real Madrid “if the club wants that. My body asks me to continue and try once again… my feeling is that the group has space to grow. The club also has space to grow, in my opinion. If the club believes that I can continue bringing something to the table and the boys also think that, then my feeling is that yes, I’m going to continue.”
Mou also said he was proud of his team, that his players were fantastic and defended those who had missed the penalties, adding, “the players should kiss their wives and children and go out with their heads held high.” Mou also threw in a barbed comment for good measure: “on Saurday, the pseudomadridistas had a drama and now today, they must be content.”
Cristiano has definitely won over the Bernabéu. The fans sang his name at various points during the game, including before he took the penalty (during the game), after scoring his goals, after sprinting and even after he missed the penalty in the shootout. The Bernabéu also sang Iker’s name at the end of the overtime, and right before each of the Bayern Munich players took their penalty kicks.
A little bit of Castilla.
Castilla beat Marino Luanco 3-2 at the Alfredo di Stéfano on Saturday, behind goals from Lucas, Joselu and Jesé, after receiving a pasillo at the start of the game. They’ve already won their group, so this game was just a morale boost for their upcoming playoff series, with a place in the second division at stake. José Mourinho was at the stadium, watching the game.
A few countries away…
Over in Germany, Schalke 04 put on a fantastic tribute to Raúl during his last game at the Veltins Arena, and put Real Madrid to shame for still not honoring its former captain. The club had organized a video tribute to Raúl, then he and his family took a lap around the stadium to bask in the adoration of the fans, and then his jersey was retired. What a lovely gesture from Schalke! And to think that Raúl only spent two years there; what an impression he made! Meanwhile, Real Madrid, his club of almost 20 years, has done absolutely nothing. He deserves something similar in the Bernabéu. By the way, Schalke won the game 4-0 (Raúl scored one goal and our former player Klaas-Jan Huntelaar two more).
Here are a few photos from the tribute. María looks exactly like Jorge did when he was her age! And Hugo, Hector and Mateo could be triplets!
Mamen was also on hand, blowing kisses to her family and filming the tribute.
I loved the moment when María started playing with one of the twins’ hair, and when Raúl got emotional. What a great man.
A couple more pictures from the tribute…
After the game, Raúl said, “I cried because it was very tough for me to come here and leave Madrid. Everything I experienced in Germany served to better the expectations that I had. I don’t have words to thank the people for these two years. Schalke is a special club for its fans.” He went on to say, “I feel the encouragement of el madridismo, they know that I’m always rooting for the club and that I wish the best for it. I know that in these two years, many madridistas have come here to watch games and I thank all of them for their support.” Rulo concluded with, “it’s difficult to explain what we’ve lived through here if you’re not here. My kids enjoyed themselves a lot and they had a great time, although I’m sure my daughter won’t remember too much of it. But the boys will.”
How adorable is María in her little outfit, waving to the crowd?