all set for Oviedo!

Hopefully this will be the lightest and least informative “all set for…” post we’ll have this season…

We’re only a little more than a week into the pre-season, but it’s already time for the first friendly!  Real Madrid will play Oviedo at the Carlos Tartiare tonight (19:45h).  You know who plays for Oviedo?  César Negredo, Álvaro’s older brother!  He actually played in Madrid’s cantera for several years, suiting up for the teams in the alevín and juvenil categories.

This game will also be a homecoming of sorts for Denis Cheryshev, as he spent part of his childhood in Asturias, when his father played for Oviedo’s eternal rival, Sporting.  Denis also played for Sporting’s youth teams, and if he plays tonight, he’ll become the first ever Russian player to wear the white shirt of Madrid.

On Monday afternoon, the team was back in training.  Karim Benzema (driving a Mini Cooper and sporting some new stripes in his hair) joined the team after enjoying almost a month of vacation, starting from when France was eliminated by Spain in the Eurocopa.  He trained at the same intensity as his teammates, showing that he has taken care of himself during the offseason (his abs look pretty good, no?).  With the addition of Karim, the number of available first team players increased to 10 (Ricardo Carvalho remains absent).  They were joined by 14 canteranos for the session, and so the starting line-up of the friendly is expected to be comprised of many of these youth players.

Indeed, 15 canteranos (including Álvaro López from RMC) plus seven first team players were called up for the game.  As for absences, it comes as no surprise that Kaká and Ricardo Carvalho did not make the cut (Kaká was actually on the first list, and minutes later, his name disappeared).  Karim Benzema, who only has one day of training under his belt, did not make the call-up either, nor did Nuri Sahin, suffering from gastroenteritis.

Goalkeepers: Adán, Jesús, Pacheco.
Defenders: Varane, Fabinho, Nacho, Mateos, Casado, Ríos, Iván.
Midfielders: Granero, Lass, Mosquera, Álex, Juanfran, Denis, Lucas, Callejón, Álvaro López, Di María.
Forwards: Higuaín, Morata.

The team is already in Oviedo, having flown there earlier this afternoon.  Esteban Granero was looking quite stylish, no?

As for those footballers still on vacation, Sergio Ramos has made his way to Miami and has visited with one of my favorite singers, Alejandro Sanz.  He’s following the footsteps of Iker Casillas, who also visited Miami and Alex earlier this month.  And just like Iker, he took Alejandro’s boat out for a spin.  Sergio also got to listen to some of the songs off of Alejandro’s new album, La Música No Se Toca!  I’m so jealous.  I love the first single, “No me compares.”  Is it too much to hope that Sergio will collaborate on one of these songs, just like he did with Canelita?  That would be a dream come true!  Or he could even cover one of the older songs – imagine Sergio singing “Corazón partió” or “Regálame la silla donde te esperé”!

Speaking of Iker and Sergio and similarities, how about these photos and poses?  Iker scores points for not wearing his purse in the photo (it’s probably too precious to get wet), while Sergio gets minus points for that disgusting jersey.  Of the guys on the team whose basketball preferences are known, Raúl Albiol has much better taste, no?

And speaking of similar vacation routes, Mesut Özil showed up at the Grand Canyon just a few weeks after Sami did.  By then, Sami was already making some new friends!  Adorable pictures of adorable men!

Other random news that might interest you: Marca reports that the residence currently being built in Valdebebas to house the first team (so that they can have their concentraciones there, instead of at a hotel) should be completed by Aug. 12.  The rooms are already ready, they were pre-fabricated in Gijón and transported to Madrid, so they just needed to be installed.  These rooms apparently include a mirror that becomes a television set with the touch of a button (cue the jokes about how certain players will never watch TV then).  There will be a total of 60 single occupancy rooms for the first team/coaching staff/doctors/fisios/press officers/other staff, each with a large bed, an area with a desk, a bathroom, a sitting area and a terrace.  The rooms are spread out over two floors (the building has a total of three floors), and the residence also includes a dining room, as well as areas to work and rest.  The hotel faces the training fields, so the players can directly access the fields from the residence.

Meanwhile, another residence for the cantera is also being built; work will commence when the first team residence is completed.  This residence will house those canteranos not from Madrid (at present, most of them stay with SEK).  It will have space for 100 boys, who will stay two to a room.

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