all set for Athletic!!!
We could go into tonight’s game at San Mamés (22h) as champions (and get the pasillo) if our old friends over in Málaga (Fernando Hierro, Manuel Pellegrini, RvN, Júlio Baptista) do us a favor and beat Barcelona in their game (2oh). If that doesn’t happen, then we just have to win the game to sing the alirón (I’m not even thinking about the other options). Number 32, here we come! And as if we needed any extra excitement, there’s also JAVI MARTÍNEZ (!!!)!
What a great view!
In this way, Xabi Alonso will get his long-awaited league championship, after coming close with Real Sociedad and Liverpool (it will be extra nice coming at San Mamés since he’s hated there due to his txuriurdin past and madridista present), and Iker will win a championship as the team capatain on the field where he debuted in the first division, 13 years ago. As he wrote on his Facebook this morning, “it’s always nice to return to the field where this road that took me to where I am today began. Many memories come to your head of that Sept. 12, 1999. It’s been 13 years and it seems like it was just yesterday… today will be a different game but one just as important as the one on that day. Winning will be the definitive step towards the 2011-12 Liga BBVA. Of course, and I know this from experience, it won’t be easy [he means an easy party, right?]. We will come out looking to win the game…”
And it will be a nice homecoming for Aitor Karanka too, since he grew up in and played for Athletic alongside his brother David. Therefore, you would think that the people who work for Real Madrid would get the name of the team right, no? Come on, it’s Athletic Bilbao and Atlético de Madrid… as if we needed to give the Athleti fans more reasons to hate us.
Of note: no team besides Athletic has ever celebrated winning a Liga in San Mamés. And according to AS, if all goes as planned tonight, the team won’t celebrate the Liga until tomorrow, since it will be around 03h when they arrive back in Madrid from Bilbao, though of course madridistas are expected to gather en masse at Cibeles to celebrate. Here’s how the goddess and her lions (no, not those ones) have looked the last several days.
Training & other preparations.
The team began training for this mid-week game on Monday, where four canteranos from RMC – Kamal, Señé, Belima, Álex Díaz – joined the entire first team plus Tomy Mejías. On Tuesday, there was another training session with the first team and Mejías.
Twenty players were called up for the game, with Angelito missing out due to suspension, and Altintop, Lass and Carvalho due to the coach’s decision.
To everyone’s surprise, José Mourinho appeared in the press room on Tuesday afternoon. I love it: when Aitor Karanka shows up, the press asks why José Mourinho is not speaking. And when José Mourinho shows up, the press asks why he’s there. Which is it? Anyway, here are the highlights.
on whether he’ll keep the same bloc in place for next season: yes. We want to keep everyone in place. The season we are having is everyone’s responsibility, each one has contributed something, from the players to the equipment managers to the coaches. Each one has tried to contribute. I, with the power, the responsibility I have from being the head coach, would be very happy to continue with those who are working with me, including the players. Many things can be written, but I’m grateful to everyone for their contributions throughout the season, and I’ll have the opportunity to thank them at the end of the season for everything they’ve done. It’s the same with my coaching staff. I would like to take this opportunity to say that I came here in a family of four, a family that has been together for many years, and now we’re a family of five, because Karanka is part of this family. When the day comes for me to leave, if Madrid wants him to stay, I’ll be the first to tell him to continue, because this is your home. But if that doesn’t happen, for whatever reason, he will continue to work with me, wherever I am.
I love the comments regarding Aitor!
on Pep Guardiola: I don’t have to comment anything because it was his own decision. When coaches are let go, we all deserve solidarity and positive words, even criticism towards those clubs that have fired coaches who did great work, but Guardiola’s case has nothing to do with this. It’s his decision and the most important thing is that he’s happy with his own decision… I hope he is able to enjoy himself, which is the most important thing in life. If for him enjoying himself means leaving football, then let it be. A hug for him.
on the rumors that he doesn’t get along with Zidane: it’s false. The policy of the club is to not refute any untrue news, neither on an individual level nor on an institutional level. That’s why we haven’t said anything, because otherwise we would be spending the entire season, every day refuting things: this problem, that problem, this one’s coming, this one’s leaving, we’re selling this one. That’s why Real Madrid doesn’t do this, either on an individual level or as an institution. But if you ask me to my face like this, the answer is easy: it’s a lie.
Well said, Mou.
And for those that understand Spanish, this is a fantastic read. And speaking of double standards, the answer to this question posed by those biased people at Cuatro (the non-verbal language of Cristiano: taunting or character?) is taunting when Cris does it, character when anyone else does it. Obviously. I’m sorry, these things make me mad.
Anyway, following the session, the team traveled to Bilbao. On the way there, Xabi Alonso read the book “Grupo Salvaje,” as we found out via Álvaro Arbeloa’s twitter. Love the little salute! Once in Bilbao, and according to Raúl Albiol, this woman mistakenly got on the team bus! Let me tell you, she totally did that on purpose, she was just hoping no one would notice and she could hang out with the players. I imagine she’s not the only one to think this up… And since there’s a cameraman in the background, where’s the video?? We also found out through the local media that the team bus pulled up to the hotel blasting music from 50 Cent.
And it looks like Gonzalo Higuaín and Álvaro Arbeloa have come to some kind of agreed custody arrangement for the in demand El Chori!
José Callejón and Aitor Karanka appeared at the habitual fan session. I love that Aitor was chosen to meet the fans in Bilbao! During the session, between autographs and photographs, Calleti received a candy cake (a combination of three of my favorite things – candy, cake and Real Madrid! It would be four favorite things though if José were included) from a group of fans! And does the woman in this photo resemble Nagore? Plus, how cute is that baby, and how cute is Aitor with him? José’s not bad either! And we have the best fans!
Meanwhile, Raúl Albiol and Gonzalo Higuaín were busy hanging out together, judging by Pipita and El Chori’s tweets. Pipita tweeted via Raúl’s twitter account (in his very Argentine Spanish), “here with the number one, who thrashed Robocop in the final. Who left the court humiliated? A) Altintop B) Karanka C) Arboleda.” And since we know Robocop is Arbeloa, and he’s the only logical choice out of the three options given, we can assume that Higuaín kicked his ass in something, probably a video game or algo así in the “Bilbao Open.” I love that the ice bucket became their trophy. And is Pipita imitating Rafa Nadal?
Other team things.
In declarations to bwin, Esteban Granero said:
Defending this escudo of Real Madrid is my life. For most of my life, I’ve worn this shirt, this shirt every day to train and play. However, it’s been Real Madrid that has trained me from the time I was young; it has educated me and made me into a player and a person. I’ll always be grateful to it for having raised me in this way.
Esteban also said, “I’ve celebrated many Liga titles as a fan, and now I have a lot of desire to celebrate one as a player. We’re now close to an important title that we could win. Being part of this team, which will enter into the history of the club, fills me with pride.” El Pirata added, “I’m proud to be with players like Cristiano, the kind of player that make a difference. It’s a joy that he plays in Madrid, that he’s a teammate and that he continues working each day with humility and effort.” Lovely statements, and the type that only a canterano can say. We need more canteranos like him on the team!!!!
The latest protagonist of the “training with…” series was the elegant Sami Khedira. I love how this series has expanded more into a “a morning in the life of…” experience than merely training!
In this installment, we get to see Sami arrive at Valdebebas, work out in the gym, and also partake in the training session.
Look who was in the gym with him, and who practiced with him! Marcelo and Pepe are EVERYWHERE! They show up in every single one of these videos, and I LOVE IT! The appearance of Mesut makes me happy too!
Watch the video here.
Here’s a collection of the photos the boys tweeted/posted recently, from Álvaro Arbeloa ready to watch “Game of Thrones” (love those arms!) to Karim Benzema giving us a photo with a different setting, but with the same awkward pose…
… and two canteranos at Valdebebas yesterday. They’re both adorable. I know I overuse that word, but it certainly is an appropriate one for describing these boys and this team, no?
In other news, a survey done by Quota Research on behalf of “Cerveceros de España” (Brewers of Spain) found that Rafa Nadal is the athlete most Spaniards would like to have a caña with. Iker ended up in third place, with 16 percent of the votes (he had finished second last year). Other madridistas in the top 12 include Fernando Alonso in fourth place, Cristiano in sixth and Xabi in 12th place. The others who made the final list were Leo Messi (second place), Pau Gasol, Guardiola, Iniesta, Piqué, Xavi and David Villa.
Juvenil C is our latest champion, joining Juvenil B and Castilla in the winner’s circle. The first team should be next, no? Juvenil C won their group with five matchdays left and a stellar record of 25-2-2. In addition, they are the highest scoring team in the group with 106 goals and the least scored upon team, having only allowed 27 goals.
And the Corazón Classic Match 2012 will take place at the Bernabéu on June 3, pitting a team of Real Madrid veterans against a team of Manchester United veterans. Proceeds will go towards the Proyecto África, to develop social-sporting schools in Africa. The match will be presented on Thursday, but it has already been announced that the likes of Zidane, Figo, Hierro, Redondo, El Moro, Helguera, El Buitre and Martín Vázquez will be suiting up for Madrid’s side! If only Becks could come…
And check out this interview Joselu did with “Punto Pelota’s” Irene Junquera. We find out that Joselu was born in Stuttgart since his parents working there, but he returned to Spain at the age of three, to the Galician town of Silleda, and he’s very proud to be from there, and that also explains his Galician accent. Joselu says he’s always been a Madrid fan, but his sister is culé, so there is a rivalry that made him cry a lot when he was young and Madrid lost. He says he still gets upset even now when Madrid loses. His current goal celebration, where he pretends to have slanted eyes (terrible!!) is because his girlfriend has spent the last two months working in China, and it’s dedicated to her. As for his various tattoos, he explains three of them. On his left wrist, he has the letters I, J and M. The “I” is for his sister, the “J” for his nephew Javier and the “M” for his niece María. On his right wrist, he has a full band. On his upper left arm, he has a tattoo of the virgin, which is for his late grandparents, as they were very religious. Three months ago, his grandmother unexpectedly committed suicide, and his grandfather died 10 days after that out of grief, so it was a very tough time for the family. Pobrecito…
When asked whether he has a dream, Joselu says it’s to become a professional footballer in the first division, and hopefully with Madrid, so that he can help his family financially. The interview concludes with Irene asking if he’s “anti” anything, and he responds many things, but none that can be said here, and ends by saying it’s because he’s a big Madrid supporter. Love it, and I hope his dream comes true, both parts of it!