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I hope you missed it

December 23, 2012

I’ll keep this brief, since I’m sure that you don’t want to be reminded of this game any more than I do.  What an terrible way to go into the Christmas break…

The huge surprise was that Iker Casillas had been benched.  Antonio Adán took his spot in the goal (how fitting for El Gordito on the day of El Gordo!), and Sergio wore the captain’s armband.  Iker had not missed an important game (i.e. one that counted) since 2002, one decade ago.  In the past decade, he had only missed nine games.  Six of them were games where nothing was at play, two of them was when Iker was serving a suspension, and one was missed due to injury.

Following the game, José Mourinho said that it was a technical decision because “in my opinion Adán is playing better.”  The majority of the fans, judging by the informal polls conducted by many of the newspapers and the talks I had with my madridista friends, however, seem to believe that this was a punishment for Iker and had everything to do with his conduct rather than his performance.  Antonio didn’t have the best of games (in fact, during the game, one of my friends kept saying “Iker could have stopped that“), so who will be in the goal for the next game?

As a result, Madrid is now 16 points behind the leader, Barcelona.  Barcelona has taken 49 out of a possible 51 points, putting them on pace to beat Madrid’s record season.  On the bright side, the only points that Barcelona did not pick up during the part of the season played in 2012 were the two points they lost during el clásico.  Maybe Iker’s wish will come true and we will finish 25 points (or more) behind but win La Décima.

Anyway, with Iker on the bench, the cameras kept shifting to him to get his reaction.  And in this sense, it was worth having Iker on the bench because Iker was very animated.

Here he is sitting down on the bench and chatting before the game.  It is so, so, so, so strange to see him there.  It must have been really tough for him too.

Here are his reactions to a Cristiano free kick, and then a chance for Ángel di María.

Iker was also caught yawning at one point, and looking frustrated as the first half came to a close.

Here we have Iker reacting to Isco’s goal, and a missed opportunity from Karim Benzema (fans of MFC got lucky, because he sat next to Iker the entire game).

When Álvaro Arbeloa came out, Iker threw his jacket to him.  Shortly after, he expressed his frustration after Cristiano was brought down in the area and no call was made.

Then came a chance for Mesut, and a handball that wasn’t called.

I felt like doing this too.

Iker’s reactions to Málaga’s second and third goals were basically the same as mine.

Iker finally expressed some positive emotions, with Karim’s goal and his encouragement of the team.

The night ended with misses from Pepe and Karim.

Expressive, right?

To avoid ending on a negative note, here’s Karim after the game…

… and two poses from Xabi.

It was also great seeing the shirt for Tito Vilanova (Xabi and Cris’ expressions make me laugh) and the hugs between Javier Saviola and Sergio Ramos before and after the game (it was Javier who gave Sergio the “Churu” nickname).

15 Comments leave one →
  1. Gigi permalink
    December 23, 2012 16:13

    I have never felt so bad for Iker as I did yesterday. :((((

  2. debsen permalink
    December 23, 2012 16:15

    Poor iker :(. I feel that he was benched for disciplinary reasons. I did enjoy his socks :). Merry Christmas and happy new year to all!

  3. December 23, 2012 17:01

    una, i was hoping you would post about this … not so much the match, because, ugh, the less said about it the better, but iker not starting. i actually gasped out loud when i found out. what the hell was mou thinking? i’ve read online that it could have been an act of desperation, and that mou wanted to send a message to the team that no one is untouchable, even the captain, but … i don’t know.

    i also have read the theory that mou may have pulled iker to send a message to iker’s critics — those who are blaming him for the team’s poor form can see that even without him, they still play poorly, so maybe they’ll see it isn’t his fault. i don’t know about that, either, especially as mou himself said it was a “technical” decision and that in his opinion, adan was playing better. (i felt so sorry for adan … such pressure, and he couldn’t quite perform up to expectations.)

    to me, this doesn’t seem like a “technical” decision. i don’t know how you justify pulling your captain and senior goalkeeper against a team that is hungry to overtake you and hot on your heels in the table. against a bottom-place team, maybe, when there’s a better chance you’ll take the 3 points (although with this team, this season, perhaps not!), but against the fourth-place team when you’re in third? that doesn’t make any sort of sense to me, strategically or technically. i don’t buy it.

    we know mou is capable of punishing players when they do something he doesn’t like (e.g. sergio wearing ozil’s jersey underneath his own … suddenly, sergio doesn’t start the next match), so i wouldn’t be surprised if this was some sort of message to iker. the thing i don’t understand is why.

    i always took everything iker said about mou, and vice-versa, at face value — that when mou was unhappy, he told you to your face, that they got along well and respected each other, etc. there were always the rumours that everything wasn’t exactly as indicated beneath the surface, but as is the case with rumours, you never know what (or how much) to believe. admittedly, i may have my iker blinders on, but i honestly can’t think of examples of iker’s recent conduct that would warrant this. he hasn’t spoken out against mou, in fact, he’s been quick to defend him when asked about their relationship.

    it’s bad enough we’re doing so poorly and that we’re 16 points behind barca (ugh). but to further diminish the morale of an already demoralised team by pulling something like this … again, i ask, what the hell was he thinking?

    would love to hear your thoughts on it all, una.

  4. Dia permalink
    December 23, 2012 17:09

    What does “Churu” mean?

    I only half watched this match. Sort of started doing housework while it was on in the back ground. I quit watching after their second goal. Had the feeling it wouldn’t end well.

  5. Eliz permalink
    December 23, 2012 17:15

    I hope the difference is solved and they play seriously d remaining games. Team spirit is missing from the players with ego is playing havoc. Too much dependence on certain players and when they are not performing we fail to win games.

  6. Nora permalink
    December 23, 2012 18:42

    Such an awful game.. I had an inkling that Mou was doing this to get fired, which papers are now speculating too and it’s such an awful time for the club in La Liga, but it would be so great to finally see us succeed again in CL after a terrible league run.

    Just wondering, Una, what wrongful conduct on Iker’s behalf is Mou punishing him for?

  7. anna permalink
    December 23, 2012 19:11

    iker on the bench just broke my heart, this game was so hard to watch

  8. December 23, 2012 19:50

    This game had me banging my head on a real wall. La Decima please be ours this time.

  9. December 23, 2012 20:19

    Rough day…but those are going to happen…as much as I want our team to be 100% perfect, it’s not always the case, but I feel 2013 is going to hold much happiness. Happy New Year to all!

  10. December 23, 2012 20:39

    when I heard the news about Casillas , you were the first person I thought of. I’m glad you posted about it. I notice you do not give much of a personal opinion though?

    feliz navadad a todos en Madrid, como lo echo de menos.

  11. December 23, 2012 21:37

    OMG! How could Jose make that decision? Is he trying to get fired?!!

  12. December 23, 2012 23:15

    I realize that Iker being on the bench was a big deal, but you could have at least put in gifs of Benzema’s goals….

  13. December 24, 2012 01:44

    Thankfully I missed the game, although the silver lining about Iker on the bench is seeing Iker’s reactions on the bench….

    However, what I have not missed (because it was impossible to) were the headlines after the game pushing themselves to my eyes in every news page I went to….After reading one article (not from Spanish press) I decided not to read anymore and come here…;-)

    I am terribly behind all the RM related news, because I have no time to watch matches recently and only check the results, but I try to still be optimistic. I mean, I still believe in Mou, thinking that it all is maybe a part of a broader plan that we can;t see yet. I really want to be optimistic…

    Cheers and have a great Christmas UnaMadridista, Feliz Navidad!

  14. Ane permalink
    December 24, 2012 08:40

    I think it was horrible what Jose Mourinho did. Let’s be honest, even if Iker had some not so good games, he’s by far better than Antonio, so Mourinho’s excuse is just an excuse. What I don’t understand is why he wanted to punish Iker. What did Iker do that bugged him so much? It was obvious even at Iker’s charitable game that he was in pain becaus elf this issue.

  15. Nathalie permalink
    January 5, 2013 04:43

    I am bit late to this post, but nonetheless. I don’t know why people are getting angry or even disappointed with Mourinho’s decisions. Yes, he made it clear that no one is untouchable.
    Let’s be honest, as much as we love Iker, we can agree that he’s not up to par lately; just like the rest of the team. These were simply some tactical decisions.
    We seem to forget that this is the same team, the same coach and his same tactical decisions that won us la liga of records last season. I’m not saying that he’s sure of what he’s doing right now. But to be fair, the team is missing something and I think that he and the rest of the coaching staff is looking for what it is.
    As for the players, I love them all dearly. But I love the team a little more. If for the greater good of the team, some players have to be benched/miss a couple of games, so be it.

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