all set for Borussia Dortmund!
Madrid takes on Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of the Champions League semifinals tonight (20:45h). If you think back to La Séptima, you’ll remember that Madrid beat Borussia Dortmund in the semifinals that year, and that the first leg game will forever be remembered for the collapsed goal. Now, 15 years later, all madridistas are hoping that Madrid can once again beat Borussia to bring home the long awaited for La Décima.
The day in Dortmund.
Twenty three players were called up for the game. As expected, Marcelo did not make the cut, but Luka Modrić did. Meanwhile, Casemiro once again made the list.
Goalkeepers: Iker, Diego López, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Sergio Ramos, Coentrão, Albiol, Carvalho, Nacho.
Midfielders Xabi Alonso, Khedira, Özil, Kaká, Modric, Callejón, Di María, Casemiro.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín, Morata.
The team traveled to Dortmund on Tuesday morning. After arriving in Germany following a two-hour flight, they went to their hotel, the Radisson Blu. The rest of the day consisted of resting, a press conference for Mou and Mesut, a training session and a visit from Christoph Metzelder, who had dinner with the team.
During the press conference, a journalist from Cadena Ser asked Mou who would be in the goal and what his relationship with Iker Casillas was like. Mou responded, “do you also want to know who will start as the rightback and centerbacks and leftback? Do you also want to know those? Diego López will start in goal, then we have Sergio Ramos, Varane, Pepe and Fábio Coentrão, then Khedira and Xabi Alonso, Mesut, Higuaín, Cristiano Ronaldo. And we are waiting to see if Di María will play as well, it’s been a happy day for him because his daughter was born [Mia was born prematurely on Monday, and Ángel trained alone at Valdebebas on Tuesday] but also a tough one because it wasn’t been an easy situation for him and his family. We hope he will make it and be prepared to play. As for my relationship with Casillas, it’s a professional relationship, and one with politeness between two persons with good manners.”
Mou also said with a straight face that Borussia Dortmund has a 25 percent chance of winning the competition, and Real Madrid also has a 25 percent chance of winning. And did you notice his shirt had the initials “Z.M.” on it instead of the usual “J.M.”? That’s because it belonged to José “Ze” Morais. As Mou was in his shirt, he wore Karanka’s “A.K.” sweatshirt, though the pants were correct! Does that mean Aitor was wearing Mou’s shirt? Or Rui Faria’s? And was this all on purpose? (Unfortunately, no one ended up shirtless though.) Meanwhile, Mesut answered questions posed to him in Spanish in German, so we didn’t get a chance to hear him say “contento” in his Andaluz accent (since I’m sure he must has at least a trace of one after spending all that time with Sergio Ramos).
As for the training session, the legendary Agustín Herrerín was on hand, having once again traveled with the team to bring our boys good luck!
Stats, data & curiosities.
As always, this comes courtesy of Mr. Chip and AS, with additional training pictures from the session in Dortmund to liven things up.
Goalscoring streak: from the 0-2 in the Bernabéu in the semifinals of the 2010-11 Champions League, Madrid has scored in 23 consecutive games in European competitions. With one more, it will equal Bayern Munich (1998-2000) and Atleti (1958-1963) for the third best streak in history. In second place is West Ham with 27 (1964-1980) and in first is Barcelona with 30 (2009-2012).
In the European Cup: if we focus only on the European Cup, there are only two records better than Madrid’s 23: Bayern’s 24 between 1998 and 2000, and Barça’s 29 between 2009 and 2012.
Away goals: Madrid has scored in 17 consecutive away games in Europe, starting with the 1-0 against Lyon on Feb. 16, 2010. This is the best streak in the history of the European Cup and the second best all time in European tournaments, behind Spartak Moscow’s 19 between 1991 and 1995.
German opponents: Madrid has played 17 double game elimination rounds against German teams in Europe, winning 10 and losing seven. In the semifinals of the Champions League, the German teams come out on top: 5-2.
Second leg at home: Madrid has played the second leg at home in nine elimination rounds against German teams and won seven. It only fell to Bayern Munich in the semifinals of the 1987 European Cup and last year. In the semifinals, Madrid has only played as the home team in the second leg twice and both times it lost to Bayern, as stated above.
Mourinho: he will be the second manager to coach seven European Cup semifinals, after Alex Ferguson. In the six precedents, he has only reached the final twice, losing twice to Liverpool (2005, 2007), once to Barça (2011) and once to Bayern (2012).
White semifinals: Madrid has won 12 of the 23 European Cup semifinals it has played (52 percent), although it has lost its last three: Juventus in 2002-03, Barça in 2010-11, Bayern Munich in 2011-12. Madrid has only lost four straight semifinals once, between 1968 and 1980: United (1967-68), Ajax (1972-73), Bayern (1975-75) and Hamburg (1979-80).
King of Europe: Madrid has won the same number of European Cups as the three other teams in the semifinals combined: Barcelona (4), Bayern Munich (4), Borussia (1).
The Betis game: Madrid beat Betis 3-1 at the Bernabéu on April 20, but the win came at a price, as various players had to be subbed out or carried off due to injury. Marcelo was in the latter group after suffering pain in his left thigh, while Luka (muscle problems) and Karim (problem with his ankle) were in the former group. Diego López was able to finish out the game, though a strong blow to the ribs left him unable to take goal kicks in the final minutes, so Raúl Albiol had to step in and take them for him (remember when Fernando Hierro had to help Iker with that during his early days because he was not strong enough to do so?).
Marcelo had the presence of mind to hand the captain’s armband to Chendo as he was being carried off in the stretcher. Chendo held on to the armband until the halftime. In the second half, the armband reappeared on the arm of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Luckily, we had some goals to cheer us up from that rash of injuries. Mesut was a double scorer on the night, while Karim also chipped in a goal.
Carlos Henrique Casemiro, or simply Casemiro, debuted with Real Madrid. He got to start the game, and played the entire match. The 21-year-old Brazilian had joined Castilla during the winter transfer market from São Paulo and played a good game, as Aitor Karanka said in the post-game press conference. For his part, Casemiro said “I’m very happy… this is something that is hard to believe.” He also became the 19th Castilla player to debut at the hands of José Mourinho and the third this season after Denis and José Rodríguez.
There were also rumors that a certain sector of the Bernabéu, the one that is most loyal to José Mourinho, had sung some things against Iker Casillas, but that simply wasn’t true, as it didn’t happen. Besides, if any group started singing anti-Iker things at the Bernabéu, many other fans would begin to boo them or whistle – I would certainly be one of the first to do so.
Vandals: the “Avenida de Iker Casillas” monolith in Móstoles was vandalized, as you can see in this video. Someone wrote the words “now he’s the best… goalkeeper of Pozuelo,” referring to the part of Madrid where Iker currently lives, Pozuelo de Alarcón, which is called Pozuelo for short. The words “let’s go Diego” were also scrawled over the image of Iker. What a horrible thing to do! I don’t understand this wave of hatred directed at Iker… And I believe it’s entirely possible to support Diego and Iker at the same time, you don’t have to take sides.
Summer’s almost here: you know it’s getting warmer in Madrid when Cristiano begins hiking up the shorts…
Take your son to work day: two possible future members of the seleção “trained” with Madrid recently: Luca and Enzo. And speaking of Kaká’s offspring, is it just me or does Isabella resemble Sara Carbonero as a kid? Compare this with this. ¿Parecidos razonables?
Pena Madridista Ramón Mendoza: on Sunday, the Peña Madridista Ramón Mendoza, based in Alcalá de Henares (called Alcalá for short), celebrated its 25th anniversary with a lunch. VIP guests at the festivities included former Madrid president Lorenzo Sanz, current president FP, Pepe, Antonio Adán, Nacho (who is from Alcalá de Henares and attended with his mother and grandmother), the hungry Miguel Torres (!), Manolo Sanchís and Raúl’s parents (his father is the one wearing the blue tie and his mother is the one sitting down with glasses).
FP gave a speech, where he said of Raúl, “he is not gone, he only left to play in Germany and now in Qatar, but he will return because this is his home and always will be,” and also promised to re-sign Cristiano Ronaldo. Meanwhile, Pepe was named an honorary member of the peña. Everyone was talking about and asking for La Décima, so FP joked with Pepe, “if you all don’t win La Décima, you won’t get paid.”
Cantera news: all of the teams (plus the first team and the basketball team) won their games over the weekend. The Alevín B and Juvenil B teams also became champions of their respective groups after Alevín B beat Alcobendas 2-1 and Juvenil B beat Pozuelo to repeat as champions. Diego López (no, not that one), Agoney González and Marcos Llorente (who has a stunning pedigree – he’s the grandson of Ramón Grosso, the great nephew of Paco Gento, the nephew of Julio Llorente and the son of Paco Llorente) scored for Juvenil B. Yay for Fernando Morientes! His team has only lost three of the 28 games it has played so far this season.
And Castilla steamrolled Mirandés 6-1, with MFC chipping in two goals, and Iván, Borja, Denis and Jesé scoring the other four.
Marcelo was at the game, looking his usual cheerful self despite the injury.
And speaking of the cantera, Pedro Mosquera shared this photo of him celebrating his birthday as a kid. Look at that little Madrid shirt! Adorable! While we’re on the subject of PF Juan Mata’s best friends, check out the latest Instagram shots from Esteban Granero, with the caption “a tribute to those who accompanied me this year in London.” He’s perfect. I love the way he marked Sant Jordi! Go here, here, here, here and here. I’d love to have him, PF and Xabi sit down and chat about books!
El Fenómeno: (Brazilian) Ronaldo has been in Madrid to promote the upcoming Confederations Cup and World Cup, and he told AS that should the Champions League final be between Madrid and Barcelona, two of his former teams, he would want Madrid to win: “I am and I feel madridista, and I will be at the final in London hoping that Madrid wins.”
What’s a post without a Karim pose? To end, Karim’s latest cheesy pose.
Let’s go Madrid! ¡Vamos!