all set for Galatasaray!
Madrid has played Galatasaray twice in recent history. Back in 2000, the two teams played in the Super Cup, with Galatasaray winning the trophy after beating Madrid 2-1. The two teams met again in the quarterfinals of the 2001 Champions League, and Madrid got its revenge. In the first leg, Galatasaray beat Madrid 3-2 (Madrid’s goals were scored by Iván Helguera and Claude Makélélé), but Madrid mounted a comeback in the second leg, winning 3-0 at home behind two goals from Rulo and another from Helguera (plus a broken nose from Figo).
Tonight, Madrid takes on Galatasaray once again (20:45h). Let’s hope the team we see tonight will have the spirit of the 2001-02 team (from the second leg).
Real Madrid got Aitor Karanka to look back on these games. Regarding the Champions League first leg match, he said, “what I remember the most is the atmosphere in the stadium. We all knew it was going to be a good game but we never imagined that one hour and 15 minutes before the game, the locker room was shaking with so many people jumping around up there. As soon as the game started, the team began playing well and molded itself to the conditions. We went up 2-0, but after the half we relaxed and they were able to make a comeback, perhaps due to the support of the public. In Madrid, we saw quickly that we were superior. We knew that we could not give them anything, that it was the second leg game and we could not fail at the Bernabéu. Luckily, we scored three goals quickly.” Watch the video here.
Here’s some bonus Iker from the 2000 game. He was such a baby back then! Look at that baby face (and all that hair!).
And bonus picture of two guys who also played for Madrid back then, Míchel and Luis. They met up in Dubai a couple of days ago.
The list of players called up for the game is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Diego López, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Sergio, Arbeloa, Varane, Coentrão, Marcelo, Pepe.
Midfielders: Xabi, Khedira, Mesut, Essien, Modrić, Kaká, Di María.
Forwards: Higuaín, Cristiano, Benzema.
Of note: Xabi and Sergio are one yellow card away from being suspended for the second leg game on April 9.
You have probably realized that one Iker Casillas is missing from that list. Mou had already said after the Zaragoza game that Iker would not be called up for the midweek Champions League match (although he would be ready for this weekend’s Liga match against Levante), adding that “if Diego López continues along these lines, it will be difficult to remove him from the goal.” Previously, Aitor Karanka had said during his pre-game press conference that while Iker has been approved to play by the doctors and has the medical discharge, he doesn’t have the “competitive” discharge. During the Champions League press conference, Mou was asked about this issue various times.
Fernando Burgos, from Onda Cero, asked Mou about the number of goals the team had allowed in the last few games – seven straight games allowing at least one goal and only one game out of the last 12 with a clean sheet and whether he was concerned about the defense (alluding to the fact that perhaps Iker could do better). In response, Mou first said that he blames this on the performance of the team, and “the goalkeeper is only being criticized by those who are not impartial.” Then he took several sheets of paper out of his pocket, unfolded them and proceeded to read a list of things that Burgos had previously written, precisely his criticism that some players always start due to their status, in detriment of those who are in the best form.
Mou said, “I have some words that you wrote some years ago in which you said ‘player X plays by decree, it’s a never ending dilemma. I don’t accept starters by decree and for players to play no matter what. A coach that allows this privilege hurts the player. A player can’t start due to his status, achievements don’t make line-ups… in Real Madrid players should not play by decree, it should fight for all the titles with those who are most in form, not those who have the best histories.'” Mou concluded by saying, “I leave it at that, because we all know that your analysis is not impartial.” CLASSIC MOU. He also said he believes he has been honest with Iker, that Iker has been training well and has to continue to do so and wait for his opportunity to come.
Mou also joked about the supposed video he had sent to Carlo Ancelotti telling him how to beat Barcelona: “I believe Ancelotti already answered that question saying he never received any such report. To tell you the truth, I had everything prepared, but I forgot to send it.”
Later on, Fernando Burgos told ASTV that he found it a bit sad that instead of preparing for the important game, Mou was preparing those papers and waiting for Burgos to ask his question during the press conference, and he was surprised that it was Mou who confronted him during a press conference rather than those from the communications department. He added that he speaks as a journalist, not as anyone’s friend, and that Mou has said many things that he may no longer mean, such as the famous “today, tomorrow, forever, Barça in my heart.”
Rafa Varane was the player who spoke to the press. Each time I hear him speak, I’m impressed by how eloquent he is, especially for someone so young. As he said during the press conference, he’s not nervous at all to play in such an important game. And he expresses himself really well in Spanish! The majority of the French players who have played for Madrid in recent years have struggled with learning Spanish, so I’m happy to see that Rafa has really made an effort. And since we spoke of baby faces earlier in the post, I have to say, this face doesn’t look like it can grow hair, no?
Galatasaray has two former Madrid players on its roster, Hamit Altintop and Wesley “Welly” Sneijder. Both were interviewed by Marca in recent days, and both had good things to say about José Mourinho.
Hamit on Mou: I have fantastic memories of Mou. He’s a wonderful coach, a person who knows a lot about football and who has everything under control. No one else manages the relations inside the locker room like he does. He manages personal relationships very well and that is key for success with so many good players. In the end, almost all his footballers remember him as a great friend. He’s a coach that can become a friend and an older brother. (Do you consider Mou a friend?) I played so little in Madrid that I can only consider him a friend! I consider myself more of a friend of his than a player, because he never used me (laughs). We have a great relationship now, we talk a lot, more than before.
Sneijder on his time at Madrid: I have good memories of my time there. I still have some friends there and incredible memories of the team and the people from the club. There’s no reason to have bad memories of that time. I had a very good season, where we won the Liga and I really enjoyed playing football. And another bad season due to my personal problems. The second year wasn’t an easy one for me.
Welly on Mou: Mou is like a second father for me. He’s a machine. In football, we have players who are machines and since I met Mou, I can also say that we have coaches who are machines. He is one, no doubt about it. He’s a very special person for me. As a coach, he’s incredible, number one. He gave me confidence and I enjoyed playing football as I had never before. And as a person, he is much more than his role as coach. Mourinho is a friend.
Adorable training pics.
I sort of like it when the internationals are not around, because we get photos like these, since the training sessions are much more relaxed.
In recent days, we also had Pipa showing off that generous bum of his; Fábio, Kaká and Cris sharing a laugh; Marcelo being Marcelo; and the four goalkeepers looking like an eight-armed Hindu god.
Leftovers from international week.
Nacho was interviewed by Cuatro while on duty with the U-21 team, although he really only spoke about Real Madrid. He said this is the best year of his life, as he has realized his dream of reaching the first team and has also been called up by La Rojita. He describes himself as hardworking and a team player, and his idol is Sergio Ramos, because he’s singular for el madridismo and national team. He feels more comfortable as a centerback, but will play in whatever defensive position he needs to play. His preferred number is 4. As for Mourinho, “Mourinho is the best… thanks to him I’m here.” In the quick test, Nacho revealed the following things. A defect – I have too much character on the field, I get upset really easily. A virtue – speed. A movie – I Am Legend. A color – red. A group – El Canto del Loco. Other than football – I like studying a lot, I’m on the verge of finishing my diploma and becoming a coach. A dream – to win the Champions. (This year?) I hope so.
And of course, Spain took on France, meaning we got to see a lot of love between the Real Madrid players!
Plus, we had Iker looking anxious in the stands, a scene which will probably be repeated tonight.
The Alonso family pose section.*
Last week at a training session, we had José Jr. being very generous with Jontxu and allowing him to score at will. I love Jon’s little celebration!
And during the Zaragoza game, which was frankly a dismal game, we had Jon’s father being muy jefe.
* trademark pending.
And to finish, here are the latest appearances from our boys in their roles as spokespersons.
Nivea has a new app out (here for iOS, here for Android) where you can film yourself (or your friends) to make little videos for three occasions: to encourage someone, to cheer someone up, or to wake someone up. Pipa, Sergio and Marcelo “act” along with you and it’s quite hilarious (especially Pipa gesturing with his hands). Here are two examples.
(Marcelo says, “wake up! Why do you have that face?” Gonzalo adds (he cracks up first), “madre mía, it was a long night, no?” Sergio chimes in with, “what a face! Let’s see if you can fix yourself up. Get up and take a look at your friend, a phenomenon.”)
And I love this ad of those three boys, plus Álvaro Arbeloa, who takes on a starring role.
The ad is about how the other three keep on borrowing Álvaro’s shirts because they stain the armpits, but Álvaro doesn’t do that because he uses Nivea deodorant. In the end, Gonzalo asks for a tie. But you probably don’t care about that, because Álvaro is prancing around without a shirt on.
More Nivea fun.
Not to be outdone, Iker posed like this for H&S.
A perfect way to end the post, no? I hope you all had a great and relaxing Semana Santa, for those who observe it, and get ready to cheer on Madrid tonight!