all set for Betis!
Madrid takes on Betis in an early game on Saturday (18h) in Jornada 32 of the Liga competition.
Nineteen players were called up for this game. Of note: Sergio Ramos and Sami Khedira were both left off of the list, probably because they are being rested for the upcoming Champions League game against Borussia Dortmund. Xabi Alonso was also not called up, as he is suspended for this game, while Michael Essien, Fábio Coentrão and Álvaro Arbeloa are also missing out, in part due to injury. Mou also confirmed that Essien, who is reportedly receiving treatment in England once again, will not be ready for Borussia Dortmund. Kaká is back on the list after missing out on the last several games due to injury, while another São Paulo product, canterano Casemiro, was called up for the first time with the first team. He joined Castilla in the winter transfer market from São Paulo.
During his press conference, the first thing José Mourinho addressed was that whole blown-out-of-proportion incident with Canillas (Mou had gone to the club to give a chat to the coaches and the president of the club later told the press that Mou had said he would not be giving the chat next year, because he wouldn’t be in Madrid). Of course the first question asked would be on that topic! Mou clarified that “Canillas is like a second home for me and for my son, but the club has a small problem: it has a president who really likes to talk to the press and be in the spotlight. He’s a fantastic person but he has this problem… I can confirm that when they asked me if I would return next year, I told them no, I don’t think so. I told them that next year I didn’t believe I would be there giving a chat.”
He also expressed his displeasure with how the incident was reported: “if nothing was at stake, I would understand that the press would be looking for non-football related news. But we are playing the final of the Copa, which is special, as it’s in Madrid, against Atlético, and we’re in the semifinals of the Champions.” As for the line-up against Betis, Mou confirmed that Diego López would start in the goal: “Casillas will be on the bench tomorrow but he’s perfectly able to play. It won’t be a surprise for me if one day he plays, and it’s perfect for me and for everyone to have two goalkeepers like them in condition and two young goalkeepers behind them also in condition.”
Bits and pieces.
– Álvaro Arbeloa spent some time during one of the off days instructing students from a school run by the Realmadrid Foundation in football at the Bernabéu. The kids practiced their penalties as Álvaro advised them on their techniques and form. He also posed for pictures with them, signed autographs and just hung around with them. This little guy imitated Cristiano Ronaldo to perfection when taking a free kick, as you can see here (everyone in the video, from Álvaro to the kids, is completely and totally adorable).
He said of the experience, “it’s a great experience and it’s gratifying to see their happy faces and how big their eyes got, as if they couldn’t believe what they were doing… They had a great time and their teachers said that some of them couldn’t even sleep since they were so excited to be on this field… it’s a pleasure and an honor to help those who need it.”
This activity was part of the project “real integration from childhood,” which seeks to integrate children with intellectual disabilities into the normal schools run by the foundation.
– Madrid is in the Final Four! The basketball team beat Maccabi 69-57 to sweep the series 3-0 and advance to the last four! The semifinals and final will take place in London on the weekend of May 10, and Madrid will be playing the winner of the Barcelona Regal-Panathinaikos series, which is currently tied at two all. I love how they celebrated! But Rudy, why so shy?
– Preseason news – Madrid will take part in the Guinness International Champions Cup, a new tournament featuring eight teams competing for one summer title. So far, Madrid, Juventus, Inter and the Los Angeles Galaxy are the confirmed teams. The rest of the teams and the venues for the games won’t be known for about another month (May 7). The only things that are known are that the tournament begins on July 27 in Europe (city to be announced) and then moves on to the U.S. – Phoenix, San Francisco and Indianapolis will host games, New York and Los Angeles the semifinals on Aug. 3 and 4, and Miami the final on Aug. 7. The format has the eight teams divided into two groups, East and West, depending on where each team is located or training. The one that finishes first in each group will make it to the final.
– Xabi’s aita, Periko Alonso, told Radio Marca that Xabi is taking a wait and see approach to his contract renewal: “what he wants to do is see what happens, how things go, and then make his decision at the right moment. There’s no other story.” I hope Madrid does everything in its power to convince Xabi to renew his contract!
Meanwhile, Xabi was busy presenting Emidio Tucci’s spring collection at El Corte Inglés. If humankind ever perfects the cloning technology, Xabi should be the first person cloned so that each of us can have one of him. He is perfection personified, and stunning in the new campaign.
– Nuri Sahin was interviewed by Marca. Our former player and the journalist mostly spoke about the upcoming Champions League semifinals, but of course there was also a few questions on his friends in Madrid. Nuri told the reporter, “for me, Cristiano and Kaká are the best players, and they’re also fantastic persons. They were always watching over me during my most difficult times in Madrid, and I will always be grateful. Whoever says Cristiano is arrogant or cocky is wrong… Kaká is very special to me, because he and his wife helped us a lot when we had our baby. Caroline was wonderful with my wife and Kaká was always keeping an eye on me. He’s a great friend.”
– According to Forbes, Real Madrid is now the most valuable club in the world, with a estimated value of US$3.3 billion, pushing it ahead of Manchester United, which is “only” worth US$3.17 billion. The magazine goes on to say that Madrid earned US$650 million last season, and in the last three years, raised its profits by 62 percent.
– The fourth edition of the Corazón Classic Match was presented at the Bernabéu on Thursday. On July 9, Madrid and Juventus’ veterans teams will go head to head at the stadium, with proceeds to benefit a Spanish Red Cross program offering outside of school meals to 5,000 students for 100 days in 14 provinces.
On hand for the presentation were FP, Kaká and Pepé, as well as four of my favorite veterans, Zizou, Aitor Karanka, Fernando Morientes and Fernando Hierro, plus Figo, El Buitre, Paco Buyo, Amancio and Alfonso. Pavel Nedvěd was also there, having visited Valdebebas earlier for Madrid’s training session. Madrid needs to find a spot for Fernando Hierro in the club right now. I’m happy that El Moro has rejoined the fold, and I would also like to see Zizou take on a bigger role (after the success with Varane, perhaps he should focus on scouting?).
– UEFA carried out anti-drug tests on Spain’s two Champions League semifinalists on Thursday, testing 10 Madrid players. Apparently Rafa Varane was one of them, because he was supposed to attend the presentation of the Corazón Classic Match but couldn’t because of the tests.
– Punto Pelota compiled a list of the top 10 singing performances by footballers. Madrid players did quite well, though it’s not a complete list by any means. Kaká finished at nine, singing that duet with Caroline about their wedding/relationship. At eight was “Mesut MC” and his rap. Former madridista Júlio Baptista ended at seven for his duet of “Precisamente ahora” with David de María (I just put that song on now because I haven’t heard it in forever). And you knew he would make the list – Sergio Ramos is ranked at five (so low?) for that video of him singing with Canelita (why didn’t they choose their duet from Canelita’s album?).
(Here’s Sergio with Júlio – and Joaquín – at the Feria de Abril on Wednesday. It must be killing him to miss the rest of the feria. By the way, Sergio is sporting a new tattoo, the face of his father, on his left forearm. Maybe it’s because he decided that the “Rubio” tattoo has a new owner and this one is to make it up to his father?)
Fourth is Cristiano singing “Amor mío,” third is Guti/Rulo/Álvaro Benito giving it their all at karaoke (Álvaro says it was when they were 18) singing “La herida” by Héroes del Silencio as well as Miguel Bosé’s “Amante bandido.” I love Raúl’s efforts! And first is another former madridista, Paco Buyo, which is not really “singing” at all but since Paco is a collaborator on the program…
– And in good news for Iker, the Comunidad de Madrid has decided to award Iker with their gold medal. The presentation will take place on May 2, which is the Fiesta de la Comunidad de Madrid holiday. Iker has not only represented Madrid well with Real Madrid and Spain, but also often collaborates with the city in all types of causes and campaigns.
– To end, MFC ABMM and Marcelo!
Have a great weekend, madridistas!