ICYMI – the celebration edition (I)
In case you missed it – Real Madrid vs. Mallorca [2012-05-13, Liga jornada 38, 4-1]. It’s the real (and Real) thing this time!
Real Madrid played their last official game of the season on May 13, closing the Liga out against Mallorca. The Bernabéu was in a festive mood, anticipating the fiesta to take place at the conclusion of the game, but the game turned out to be a great one too.
ONE. The players had asked the Bernabéu to wear white to this game, and the fans responded. Even José Mourinho acceded to the request, wearing a white shirt. For the first time in a long time, he didn’t wear his tracksuit. He looked great in his party outfit, no?
TWO. Granada honored Madrid with a pasillo prior to the start of the game.
Joaquín Caparrós got hugs from his former pupils Álvaro Arbeloa and Sergio Ramos, both of whom have repeatedly stated the importance of Joaquín to their careers. Dudu Aouate also got hugs from his fellow goalkeeper and from his former teammate Álvaro Arbeloa. Meanwhile, three sides of the stadium were decorated with mosaics. The fondo norte had a huge “32,” the fondo sur a likeness of the Liga trophy, while the lateral oeste had the words “gracias campeones.”
THREE. Moments. Iker and Karim had time for a little gossip session during the game (with a bonus Xabi Alonso pose thrown in)…
… but with Sergio, it was all about high-fives. Cris once again showed off his repertoire of fun expressions…
… and leaping ability. I wonder if he was expecting anyone to jump over the barrier in pursuit of him, just like in Granada?
Surprisingly, it was Jesús who was the backup goalkeeper for the game. As a result, we saw Antonio Adán watching from what could be the best seat in the house – the entrance of the tunnel. I mean, it’s close to all the action, to the fans, to the bench… it’s just a bit far away from Iker though!
FOUR. Achievements: Madrid got to 100 points, setting a new record for the Liga for the most number of points in one season in the process. Madrid did not lose one single time during the segunda vuelta. The last time that occurred was in the 1989-90 season, and it happened that it was also the Real Madrid team that accomplished it.
And of course, Madrid broke the record for most goals scored in one season several matchdays ago; they finished with a stellar 121. Meanwhile, Cristiano became the first player in the history of the Liga to score against all the teams in one season (in the current 20-team format). Cris was just missing Mallorca in his collection, and he came through. Doesn’t Sergio look like he expects a kiss in the celebration?
What I would give to be Karim in this moment and be able to pat Pipita on the ass and not be arrested…
FIVE. Sergio Ramos, front and back.
SIX. The Mou corner.
Mou’s little fan club sat right above the bench, and the luckiest kid in the world showed that he’s also a great son by cheering loudly when his dad’s name was announced. Mrs. Mourinho preferred to read the Grada Blanca. And when Gonzalo Higuaín was substituted out, Mou joined the entire Bernabéu in clapping. Pipita received a lot of affection from the fans, who chanted “Pipa, quédate, Pipa, quédate” after he scored a goal (which was subsequently annulled) and gave him an ovation and again the chant when he left the game.
SEVEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Xabi Alonso strolled into the Bernabéu, carrying the book he’s been reading, Charles Bukowski’s Factotum (!), and once again showing that he’s perfect. No, he’s more than perfect. Perfect has become too weak a word to describe him. I might have to start referring to Xabi as Xabi (!!!!).
During the game, he was of course posing and in charge.
And the field also became his runway, with various strolls and poses, both during the game and at the celebration.
Speaking of the celebration…
EIGHT. As soon as the game ended, the lights at the Bernabéu were shut off, and it was only lit by the phones and camera flashes of the fans. A stage was set up in the center of the field, and cutouts of the Liga trophy, each with a championship year printed on it, were set up to form a passageway leading from the tunnel to the center stage and lit up. Canteranos wearing their Madrid kits also lined the passageway, waving white flags. I love how Madrid included the cantera in the celebration!
It was a spectacular sight, and Antonio Adán couldn’t resist taking a peek. Did he just park himself there for the entire night?
NINE. The first surprise (and what a fantastic one) came in the form of Plácido Domingo. He strode out to the center stage, wearing one of the championship shirts under his suit jacket. He got the crowd going with a lot of “vamos” and “venga” and fist pumping, and congratulated the team for winning the Liga and reaching 100 points, before requesting the 33rd Liga and La Décima. Plácido then proceeded to “sing” the centennial hymn. That song never fails to give me goosebumps, even though we hear it quite often, as it’s played each time the team comes out onto the field.
TEN. After that, the players were introduced one by one, starting with the canteranos. Tomás Mejías was up first, followed by Jesús, Pacheco, Jesé, MFC ABMM, Joselu, Mandi, Nacho and Andy. This was everyone who had at least been called up in the Liga. That’s not bad for Andy, no? He gets called up in the second to last matchday, and he gets to take part in this celebration! I really, really hope many of them will end up triumphing at Madrid during their careers.
The first team players were then introduced, in order of their jersey number, except for the captains, who were saved for last, starting with the most junior one (Higuaín) to the most senior one (Iker). Everyone was attired in flags and scarves (Marcelo even had one tied around his ankle); I wonder how many the team has gone through during this week and a half of celebrations? The speaker let the crowd yell out the name of each player, much like Pepe Reina did during La Roja’s celebrations. Gonzalo Higuaín was introduced like this: “he’s the heart of el madridismo, he forms part of the soul of the team…” A perfect description. Cris and José Callejón both pointed at the escudo as they came out.
The biggest cheers of the night went to Pepe, Cristiano, Xabi, the captains and Mou, while Cristiano, Esteban Granero, Xabi and the captains also heard the fans chant their names. I adore Marcelo. Look at him! And Iker looks so regal, no? He’s definitely the king of “royal” Madrid.
ELEVEN. Some things that I noticed: Cristiano ran across the stage to hug Pepe, Kaká went to stand next to his best friend and fellow Ricky, Pepe and Cris positioned themselves right on the edge of the stage, so they were able to hug everyone as they climbed up (they had a great time, no?), Ángel sported an Argentina flag, and ironically, Iker was the only one not in white (perhaps it was deliberate though, so that he could easily be identified); he had changed into the yellow jersey after playing the game in black. And how great was it that Pepe went to high five all the canteranos?
And I adored Mesut with one bufanda tied around each wrist, and the fact that Cristiano imitated him waving! I love this team! And then when El Pirata was introduced, Cristiano did his trademark goal celebration. Karim followed suit, but wasn’t as successful! He just looks like he has a headache! Jajaja!!!!!
TWELVE. Following that, some of the others who work with the team on a daily basis were introduced. First came Chendo (delegate), then Carlos Lalín (recovery specialist), Santi Lozano (fitness coach), José Morais, Silvino, Rui Faria, Aitor Karanka and Mou. Before Mou reached the stage, he got down on his knees and bowed towards the team.
I loved that these members of the team were also included in the celebrations!
THIRTEEN. And Cris… how can anyone not adore him after seeing scenes like these below? One of the canteranos asked Cris for his shirt, and Cris just took it right off and handed it to him. The kid looked like he was going to cry out of emotion! Cris also gave his scarf away to another one of our future players after he asked for it, and later on, when the team was taking a lap around the stadium, Cris was seen interacting with the younger players, all of whom wanted to get close to him.
Another kid asked for Karim’s shirt, and Karim told him he couldn’t because he wasn’t wearing anything underneath… Go ahead Benz, we don’t mind, not in the least!
FOURTEEN. And what is a celebration without this picture? More to come…