all set for Kuwait!
Take a good look at Xabi Alonso looking absolutely fantastic (and some years younger, no?) for Hugo Boss, because you won’t see Xabi playing tonight in Kuwait (19:15h local time, 20:15h Spain time).
All the Kuwait things.
On Tuesday morning, Madrid flew to Kuwait to close out the season with a friendly match against that country’s national team. The entire team, except for Xabi Alonso, departed from Barajas at 10:30h, arriving at 17:30h local time after a six hour flight (Kuwait is one hour ahead of Spain). The emir of Kuwait allowed them to land at his personal terminal, where a bus was waiting on the runway to ferry them away.
From the airport, the team headed to their hotel, the Regency, accompanied by four police trucks, 10 police officers on motorcycles and five other police vehicles. José Mourinho and Iker Casillas spoke at a press conference shortly after. Mou said, “this is the first time in Kuwait for me and I have a lot of curiosity.” He also said he would field the best team: “we’re here to play, not to be tourists. Madrid always has to win because each time it plays, its prestige is at stake, so we’re going to give it our all. I hope it will be a friendly game and there won’t be any injuries. We’ve brought the best team and everyone will play.”
Iker needs a shirt with “E.C.” on it for El Capi…
Iker echoed Mou’s words: “as the míster said, we’re here to play a great game and to win. We will come out with respect for our rival, and there’s no better way to do that than to play seriously.” He also said, regarding Cristiano, “he’s one of the two most influential players in the world, he’s a complete player, a very important pillar for Madrid, he’s above everyone else and right now he’s a shade above the rest. Messi is as well. Both of them are above the others.”
The press conference ended with a smile, as Mou responded to a question about how he has a reputation for being unpleasant: “I’m not very nice, but I am right now because I’m on vacation. Anyway, I won’t try and damage my good reputation here.” This earned him applause from those present. Mou also joked in another moment that the only training sessions that would take place in Kuwait would be in the swimming pool. There were also moments when the simultaneous translation seemed to drag on, and so Iker and Mou were writing notes and passing them to each other. I like this Mou!
There was also a welcome reception, and a fan session on Tuesday night. It came as no surprise that Cristiano was the most solicited player during the fan session. The fans became even more enamored of him when he told them, “Salam aleikum” (may peace be with you), which helped us to overlook how silly he looked in his outfit. It’s quite amazing how he managed to style himself so that he looked worse than everyone else, who were more or less in the same clothes.
Raúl and Pipita were inseparable, and does Cris and Pepe ALWAYS make Marcelo sit between them? It’s adorable! He’s like their child.
On Wednesday morning, the team was received by the ruler of Kuwait, Emir Sheikh Sabah IV Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah at one of his palaces. He received a signed shirt and a replica of the Bernabéu. The boys looked quite bored, no? Sit up straight Chori!
Once the team returns to Madrid, the players will get to go on vacation. Some can start right away, while others will only have a few days before they have to report to their national teams. Portugal has called up Cristiano, Pepe and Fábio Coenteão for the Eurocopa, while Sami and Mesut will suit up for Germany and Karim for France. Five of the Spaniards – Iker, Sergio, the A-team – have made Vicente del Bosque’s pre-Eurocopa list, and hopefully all of them will also have a spot on the final list (I think Raúl Albiol is the only incognito).
Meanwhile, Rafa Varane will be playing two U-21 Euro qualifiers with France’s U-21 team, while Marcelo will join Brazil for four friendlies starting the last week of the month, and Nuri Sahin and Hamit Alintop will be playing five friendlies with Turkey.
Things that happened on Monday.
On Monday, Xabi Alonso was unveiled as the image of Hugo Boss’ new campaign, “Success Beyond the Game” at the Hotel Villa Magna (Mario Gómez and Frank Lampard are the other images). This also meant that the three of them are the new faces of three of Boss’ fragrances, Boss Bottled, Boss Night and Boss Sport.
During the Q&A session, Xabi said that his favorite scent is that of “the sea in San Sebastián,” that he misses it and that he’ll go take a dip in La Concha after the Eurocopa. He also revealed that he puts on cologne before games, and what he uses is apparently Boss Bottled. A perfect fit, since he is the most jefe guy we know, no? As for winning the Liga, Xabi said, “personally, I’m very happy because I lacked a league title and now I have one. It was the icing on the cake of a good season. We achieved impressive numbers; we reached 100 points. We’re optimistic about the future. We’re very united, the ingredients are all there and we only have to continue working hard for the final recipe to be full of success.”
Meanwhile, the offensive to convince (?) Gonzalo Higuaín continued. During his promotional act, Xabi said, “he knows that his teammates love him, that the coach loves him and that the fans love him. For us, he’s a fundamental player, as a forward he’s one of the five best in the world and I’m convinced that he’s going to stay.” Iker, during a charity padel tournament organized by the Clínica Menorca to raise funds for breast cancer research, said, “I’m convinced that Pipa is happy here, but it’s also clear that it’s his own decision. He’s a fundamental piece in José Mourinho’s project, yesterday he received the tribute he deserved for the six years he’s been here. It makes his teammates happy that he’s recognized like this.” Meanwhile, Aitor Karanka said, “yesterday at the Bernabéu, the fans let him know that they love him, they did that at Cibeles as well, he knows that the coaching staff wants him to stay, and in the locker room, he’s an important player for the group. Gonzalo knows that he’s loved by everyone… we’ve done everything possible to convince him to stay.”
Aitor Karanka also said this at the padel tournament about José Mourinho and his “Karanka, portugués” song: “there you see his fun side. Mourinho isn’t like what people think. For me, it’s a privilege to be part of this coaching team and to be able to say that I’m Mourinho’s friend.” The likes of Eze Garay, Rubén de la Red, Fernando Hierro, Paco Pavón, Albert Celades, Miguel Torres, Jordi Codina, Míchel, Luis Milla, MFC ABMM also participated in the tournament, playing, although Iker didn’t suit up. By the way, Sara was also there and she and Iker even agreed to be photographed together, with others in between, of course.
Karim Benzema, in an interview with RMC, said his goal is to win the Ballon d’Or. He also spoke about his first year at Madrid: “it was a bit difficult in the beginning. It was the first time that I was alone, without my family
and without furniture. In the beginning, I didn’t play much. It was very tough during for some months , I didn’t even have a chair to sit on. But I didn’t give up. I set goals for myself. I wanted to play on this team.” Benz also explained how Zidane has helped him: “his contribution was important. He’s the best French player of all time. And in addition, I could speak with him in French.” As for Mourinho, Karim said, “everything has gone well with him. He has confidence in me, he speaks a lot with me. He’s a great coach.” Regarding Cristiano, “it’s very easy to play alongside great players. We get along very well, especially off the field.” And in relation to Rafa Varane, “I speak quite often with him and he has his head on straight. He’ll become a great player.” The interview ended with Karim saying that if everything goes well for him in Madrid, he would like to finish his career there.
Also on Monday, Ruud van Nistelrooy announced his retirement from football: “yesterday, I played my last game as a professional. My big dream was to play in the Champions with Málaga and we achieved that dream, but the moment to say goodbye has come. Playing at the top level made me realize that I’ve reached my physical limit. This is the best way to say goodbye, I’m happy, especially since I was able to make this decision.”
During his career, RvN played for two Spanish clubs and that has left a deep impression on him: “I feel a bit Spanish, I have a great connection with Spain. My children were born and grew up in Spain. In 2006, I arrived in Madrid at the age of 30 and I look back on that time with a lot of pride. I was lucky enough to play on a great team, with a great club. I felt the affection of the fans in the Bernabéu, which is spectacular.” We do love you Ruud!
Castilla and RMC learned who their rivals will be as both try to move up a division. Castilla will play Cádiz, the champions of group IV, at the Ramón de Carranza (a great stadium with great fans) on May 20 and the return leg at EADS on May 27. A spot in the second division is at stake. Meanwhile, RMC will be facing Villaralbo on May 20 in Zamora and in Madrid on May 27, in the fight to secure a spot in the Second Division B. Castilla also beat Vecindario 5-0 on Sunday behind goals from MFC ABMM, Ríos, Lucas and Denis (a doblete for Ruski, as his teammates call him) to close out the season.
Carol Celico at “Hoy Corazón.”
Carol Celico recently gave an interview to “Hoy Corazón” magazine, during which she requested that they not ask her about Kaká, but rather about other things that are important to her, such as her Amor Horizontal Foundation, which just organized a free concert. Highlights:
on her foundation: I founded it here, with the headquarters in Madrid. I don’t belong to any church or any religion, I simply believe in Jesus. What I believe is that God knows our hearts and God is love. That’s where the name of my foundation comes from: Amor Horizontal. The objective of my foundation is to convince people through the word of Jesus that helping others is good. Right now, the foundation is just me, I finance it with my own money. But in June, I want to launch the web page so that everyone can collaborate. God gave me the opportunity to do it and to help people, and that makes me happy. I don’t want money, I don’t want recognition, I just want to help.
on Spain: I love it here! I have a Spanish grandfather, the father of my mother was from the south. I never got to meet him, but I have Spanish blood in my veins. Here, I was welcomed with a lot of affection. I’ve made some great friends.
on how she spends her time: it’s true that I don’t like to go out a lot. I spend the majority of my time with my kids. I’m a very dedicated mother. My daughter is one year old and my son four, and my life revolves around them. I wake them up, I give them breakfast, I take the oldest one to school, and when I return home, I take care of the small one until it’s time to go pick up the boy. Sometimes his father does it, when he’s at home and has the time, but yes, we take care of everything. I’m lucky enough to have someone at home to take care of the girl so that I can spend the afternoons with the boy.
on whether she’ll have more children: no (laughs). I’m good like this. If it depends on me, no. God has blessed me with a boy and a girl, and that’s perfect. I don’t see myself with any more. Although who knows, you can’t ever say no…
on being the wife of a footballer: in Brazil, the majority of the wives of footballers are very strong women. The problem is that the media transmits an image that doesn’t correspond to reality. There are good women, but the press tends to focus on those who go out more or dress well. That’s not me. I don’t always have perfect hair or an impressive bag and an immaculate appearance. I get up and I’m just a mother. That’s my life: my friends, the conversations with the other mothers at school… those are the people who can really talk about how I am. Look, I’ve been photographed many times in Italy carrying shopping bags, with captions reading that I just went shopping, but in reality what I was carrying was presents for others! The fact that our husbands earn a lot of money does not mean that we’re superficial women. We all have our defects and our virtues, and you can’t generalize.
on how to be happy: I need social work, to help children, which I love, to help people to be at peace with themselves and with God, and of course, I need to have my family close to me and to be with them.ddd
The interview is quite interesting and we get to learn a lot about Carol, so if you can understand Spanish (or are acquainted with Iker’s best friend), do read the interview.
And one more thing.
A wrap-up of minutes and goals this season. Unsurprisingly, Cristiano was José Mourinho’s most utilized player, clocking in 4,899 minutes throughout the season in all competitions. Iker came in second with 4,800 minutes, Xabi third at 4,509, Sergio fourth at 4,497 and Pepe fifth at 4,007. Seven canteranos took the bottom seven spots, with minutes ranging from eight (Pacheco) to 70 (Casado). In terms of first team players, Adán only played 442 minutes, the lowest, followed by Altintop with 613 and Sahin with 642.
As for goals, Cristiano scored 60, Benzema 32 and Higuaín 26. In fourth place was José Callejón with 13 and Kaká rounded out the top five with eight. Fifteen out of the 21 field players scored for us this season. Those who didn’t were Lass, Albiol, Arbeloa, Coentrão, Carvalho and Granero.