Real Madrid takes on Benfica tonight in Lisbon (20h) in the fifth edition of the Eusébio Cup, which is also their second game of the pre-season.
The team is already in Lisbon, having flown there from Madrid earlier today. They’re currently at the Pestana Palace hotel waiting for kickoff time.
José Mourinho called up 24 players for the match, divided between 10 first team players and 14 canteranos (it appears that MFC ABMM and Jesús are still considered Castilla players at the moment).
Goalkeepers: Adán, Jesús, Pacheco.
Defenders: Varane, Coentrão, Fabinho, Nacho, Mateos, Casado, Ríos, Iván.
Midfielders: Kaká, Granero, Lass, Mosquera, Álex, Juanfran, Denis, Lucas, Callejón, Di María.
Forwards: Benzema, Higuaín, Morata.
You’ll notice Fábio Coentrão’s name on the list; that’s because he cut short his vacation so that he could take part in the Eusébio Cup and play against his former team. He has won the trophy with Benfica, as has Ángel di María. Together, they won the second edition in 2009 (Fábio came into the game for Ángel), while José Mourinho won the first edition while coaching Inter. Anyway, this will be the first time that Coentrão and Di María play Benfica since they left. Benfica’s web site called Coentrão’s return “the most awaited return,” while there have been reports that Ángel will receive a tribute before the game and a plaque from the Portuguese team. Both of them are still very much loved in the Estádio da Luz, and Ángel can be spotted there once in a while cheering on his old team. Fábio recently said to A Bola, “being able to return to what was and still is my home is something very special. I’m happy. It’s true that I’ll have to give up a day of vacation, but it’s worth it because it’s going to be a very pleasant reunion, both for Real Madrid and for Benfica.”
Benfica is also the current team of many former madridistas, such as Javi García (who said it’s a special game for him as he’s never played against Real Madrid, the club that gave him everything, including the opportunity to enjoy football), Rodrigo (who won’t be playing as he’s currently on duty with the Spanish Olympic team), Eze Garay (can’t wait to see the reunion between him and Pipita) and Javier Saviola. And then there’s Alípio, who’s currently playing with Benfica B.
Meanwhile, Nuri Sahin’s name is not on the list, and the press is rife with rumors that he’s headed to an English club. During the press conference following the presentation of an award to José Mourinho by Portuguese journalists, Mou said with regards to Kaká that neither he, Kaká nor the club knows if the player will stay or not. Later on, he said that as long as Kaká’s a first team player, he will train and play with us, and added that Kaká will be going to the United States with them. As for Nuri Sahin, Mou said (ranted), “I don’t like that the market remains open until Aug. 31. It allows for many doubts, not amongst us, but among journalists and people. I want 20 players plus the goalkeepers and to leave the door open to the niños, so someone has to leave. I try to be honest. Nuri is in the gray zone, neither black nor white. If there is an interesting possibility for him to play somewhere else, it will be better for him to leave, since we saw last year that he didn’t get moments here.” Mou also confirmed that Jesé will be along for the North American tour, and that Coentrão will play tonight since “his heart is red” (that’s nice, but I want it to be at least partially white, no?).
In other news, on Wednesday, the team returned to training following their victory against Oviedo. Ten first team players and 13 canteranos (Fabinho was the absence with regards to the previous session) took part in the session. A second session was held on Thursday afternoon.
This photo tweeted by Joselu, meanwhile, once again reminds me that I chose the wrong profession.
And Enzo’s parents have been busy taking pictures of him! As you know, Enzo’s father (Enzo has become such a star that I might start referring to Marcelo in terms of Enzo) is playing in the Olympics, and Clarice shared some photos of that adorable kid getting ready to watch Brazil take on Egypt, along with his grandmother.
We also got to see some photos from the family vacation; I want to hang out with this family!