Real Madrid news round up 2/8/2012

Hello folks, I have been on holiday but will try to catch up on happenings at the Bernabeu now. Jose Mourinho and his Real Madrid team are in America at the minute for pre-season training and some friendly matches. There has not been alot of movement in or out of the squad, although there have been plenty of rumours and there is plenty of time for things to be done.

Number one priority at the minute seems to be the ongoing attempts to sign Luka Modric from Tottenham. Tottenham are still demanding their full valuation of 40 million euros for the Croatian playmaker, and Mourinho is still trying to get them to drop the price. Modric, meanwhile has told the London club that he is determined to go. He absented himself from training and did not go on tour with his club mates.

Nuri Sahin will be allowed to go on loan for a season, but only if the Modric deal is completed. Arsenal are favourites to land the Turkish international and Mourinho is convinced that a spell in the Premier league would be good for his young midfielder.

Kaka will probably be rejoining AC Milan if the Italian club agree to pay around 25 million. This alot less than Madrid wanted but it may be time to cut their losses.

Alvaro Arbeloa has signed a new contract with Madrid that will last until 2016 after a fantastic Euro 2012.

More news soon.

all set for the Galaxy!

Yesterday, Sergio gave us a video of “the Michael Phelps of Camas” beating Kaká in a 50-meter freestyle race.  It sounds like the entire team was watching, judging by the amount of laughter as “Churu” came out of the turn with a huge lead.  I also loved how others were standing around in their underwear!  We need more footage, such as the moment Sergio emerged from the pool!

Speaking of competitions, the team finished preparations for their upcoming friendly against the Galaxy (Friday, 04:30h Spain time, Thursday 19:30h local time) on Wednesday.  Real Madrid has played the MLS team three times before, with a record of 3-0.  This match-up is always welcome, because who doesn’t like seeing Iker Casillas and David Beckham reunited?

On Wednesday, the team trained in the morning before getting the afternoon off.  Xabi Alonso returned to the fold after leaving the previous day’s morning session with pain in his right ankle, as did Fábio Coentrão.  On the other hand, Lass was unable to finish the session.

The three jefes.

While the team trained, 20 Israeli and Palestinian children watched on the sidelines with Florentino Pérez, thanks to Children United.  After the session, they were able to approach the players and get their autographs.  José Mourinho has collaborated with the organization before, and has donated money to finance leagues where Israeli and Palestinian children play football together.  During the halftime of the upcoming friendly, these children will play a mini-game.

Also on hand for the training session was UFC fighter Fabricio Werdum.  According to Madrid’s web site, Iker Casillas is his idol, and so he exchanged gloves with our Iker.

The players had the afternoon off.  This group made up of Iker, Antonio, the four Musketeers (with El Chori sporting a very bright outfit), Calleti and El Pirata went to have lunch, a coffee and go shopping together in Beverly Hills (Sergio tweeted that he was where Pretty Woman was shot; I can imagine him walking up the street with zillions of shopping bags too).  Others also were seen out and about on Rodeo Drive (leading to the possibility that Sergio and Cris would get into a tussle over a Gucci belt that they both spotted) and Nacho tweeted that he spent the free afternoon with his fellow canteranos.  The team was due back at their hotel at 20h as they had further obligations.

Other photos shared by our boys via social networks: Álex was with his idol Kaká (sporting very windblown hair), Mesut was celebrating his six million Facebook likes, Sergio recognized the hotel where Pretty Woman was filmed, and Pepe was having an ice bath with Calleti.  I love that they are all in Speedos, and two to a tub!  Ángel really is thin, isn’t he?

The daily Pipita quote: “estoy más al pedo que cenicero de moto!”  This translates to “I’m more useless than an ashtray on a motorcycle!”  Jajaja!!

And Real Madrid has made it to London!  Madridista Javier Illana, a Spanish diver, tweeted this photo of him with Chinese diver Cao Yuan, a gold medal winner in the Men’s Synchronized 10m Platform event.  He’s also a big fan of Real Madrid, and this was the present Javier gave him for winning the gold!  Great gesture and great present!

In other news, the times and dates for the first three jornadas have been released.  Madrid will take on Valencia at the Bernabéu at 19h on Aug. 19, Getafe at the Alfonso Pérez at 19h on Aug. 26, and Granada at 22h on Sept. 2.  Luckily, we haven’t been stuck in the 23h time slot (only in Spain, right?).  And there are games scheduled for 23h on Sundays and Mondays!  The poor fans of those teams…

Back in Madrid, the Juvenil B started its pre-season, under the orders of its new head coach, FERNANDO MORIENTES!!!!!  El Moro is taking charge of the team and will be assisted by Beñat Labaien, Miguel Ángel Fernández and Juan Canales.  The Juvenil B is made up of 18 “graduates” of Juvenil C plus Marcos Alguacil from Torrelodones.  Fernando says he’s very excited to take charge of these boys and start the season.

And Roberto Carlos has announces his retirement from football.  ¡Grande Roberto!  During the press conference to announce the news, he said he has already begun negotiating a goodbye friendly between Madrid and Anzhi.

day three at “oook-la”

This morning, Real Madrid announced that Álvaro Arbeloa’s contract has been extended to the 2015-16 season!

In his four seasons with Madrid (this is counting the 2004-05 season when he played two games), our canterano has played in 123 games and has scored three goals.  He told the web site that he’s very happy and proud, that it’s an honor to be part of this club, that the míster has brought out the best in him and made him a better player,  and that he’s very thankful to all the fans who have given him their affection.  Too bad they didn’t ask him any interesting questions, such as who Pipita is going to choose as his bestie this season, when he (Álvaro) is going to race Iker again or who else he’s going to convince to join twitter, and if he’s taking suggestions!  (I would vote for Marcelo.)

Tuesday was another double session day, where the intensity was ramped up.  Rafa Varane was able to join his teammates for the morning session after training apart from them the previous day.  However, Xabi Alonso was unable to finish the session, leaving before it ended due to some pains in his right ankle.  As he was driven off in a golf cart, he told some fans who wanted his autograph that he had landed poorly on the foot.  He didn’t participate in the afternoon session, instead working out in the gym.  Meanwhile, Fábio Coentrão left the afternoon session early, as a precaution after feeling some pain.  As for José Campos, his work in the pre-season so far consists of helping the four canteranos to improve their shot and speed.

The boy band shots are back!  I seem to associate those with the pre-season, although with no new signings or canteranos this year, we might not get “proper” (posed) ones.  I see that Karim still has not perfected his “sexy face” yet… that might explain why he needs both a Blackberry and an iPhone, so that he can take lots of practice photos.

The team received another visit on Tuesday, this time in the form of one John Coughran, an American who had played for the basketball team between 1975-78.  He’ll also watch Madrid take on the Galaxy on Thursday.  I hope Sergio didn’t get any ideas from John’s western-style shirt… I can totally see Sergio’s mission for this time in the U.S. as getting a pair of cowboy boots (and whatever color jeans is missing from his collection).

Pepe spoke to the press in between the training sessions.  Regarding the team, he said, “we’re working very hard and the team is on its way to a very high level so that when we begin the competition, we’ll be ready.  We know each other much better this year, and it’s also the third year with the míster, so we know his mentality much more and we’re much more capable of playing in all the competitions.”  He also said he wasn’t worried that Madrid hasn’t signed anyone yet, since “last year we won the Liga with the same footballers who are here.”

During his comments to the press, he also sent some encouragement Kaká and Coentrão’s way.  When responding to a question about Ricky, Pepe responded, “Kaká is a fantastic player.  He’s part of our team.  I’m happy to share a locker room with him.  We understand that he’s a Real Madrid player and we have to give him all our affection.”  As for Fábio, Pepe said, “he doesn’t have to demonstrate anything to anyone.  My signing was also questioned, and thanks to God I had the luck of having things go well for me.  The fans love me and I’m happy.  Fábio is a new boy, he’s spent his whole career in Portugal, he had a bad experience in Zaragoza and now he has the opportunity to play for the best club in the world.  He has a lot of quality, and I believe that Fábio and Marcelo are the best fullbacks in the world and it’s a privilege for Madrid to have both of them.  I’m sure that the fans will also give him their affection.”

Today’s Pipita phrase: “Menos mujeres que en una película de guerra,” courtesy of Álvaro Arbeloa’s twitter.  This one is much easier to translate: “there’s less women (here) than in a war movie.”

The boys haven’t been sharing many too many shots from their time in LA, so luckily Mesut came to the rescue, giving us this cute photo from the team bus.  Like Iker, he also got tan!

And here are a couple of moments from the baseball game the other day.  As we can see, Xabi is very skilled with a bat (there’s really nothing he’s not good at, is there?) while Gonzalo Higuaín isn’t as good.  In the video, he appears to blame his lack of success on Calleti’s pitching, and later on, he does connect on a few balls.  I wonder if he uttered a “Pipita Quote” when he swung and missed; I’m sure he has a repertoire for any occasion or situation.

As for Castilla, they tied Guadalajara 2-2 in their latest friendly, with Óscar Plano and Raúl de Tomás scoring for our second team.  This was the team’s first taste of second division football, as Guadalajara is also in the second division.  Lucas and David Mateos, who played in the game, had dinner afterward with Joselu.  In other news, Castilla has signed 21-year-old Borja García from Córdoba for four years and a reported €1.5 million.  Although Borja, a midfielder, is coming to us from Córdoba, he played youth football with Rayo Vallecano and is from Madrid.

batter up!

The two training sessions that took place on Monday were the least interesting events of the day (although they did allow us to get glimpses of our beautiful, and for the most part very tan, footballers.  The team once again trained during both the morning and afternoon.

Ángel di María and Rafa Varane spent the morning session working apart from their teammates, with Carlos Lalín.  Ángel was able to join his teammates for the afternoon session, while Rafa continued working with Carlos.

The team also received several visits.  For the third straight year, Jorge Campos – the Mexican former goalkeeper – watched Madrid train at UCLA, and he told Real Madrid’s press people that “Casillas is the best goalkeeper in the world.  His reflexes and the reaction he has make him unique.  He’s a leader both on and off the field and he always appears in the most important moment of the game… he’s a humble and excellent person, in spite of everything he has won.  Young goalkeepers can learn a lot from him.”  I’d love to see Iker in some of the outfits that Jorge has sported over the years!

After the conclusion of the first training session, two Arizona Diamondbacks players visited the team, and helped the boys set up an impromptu baseball game, with the likes of Kaká, Pipita, Callejón, Xabi Alonso trying out their luck as pitchers and batters.  Gerard Parra said he was happy to have the opportunity to watch the best team in the world train, while Miguel Montero said he loves Spanish football and Real Madrid.  The two of them were playing in Los Angeles (the Diamondbacks beat the Dodgers 7-2 later that day) and so they decided to check out the training session.

Love their batting faces!

Parra and Montero left the game impressed with Xabi Alonso’s baseball skills: “we were speaking with him and he told us that he has watched baseball games and liked them.  He also said he’s practiced the sport with pitching machines and that’s why he’s so good with a bat.”

There was also time on Monday for the coaching seminar “Tactical Thinking with José Mourinho,” organized by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America as part of a three-day tactical course for future coaches.  Mou and his coaching staff – Rui, Aitor, Silvino, José Morais, Luis Campos, Santi Lozano and Carlos Lalín – all spoke during the seminar, which lasted for two hours.

Other activities during the course included watching Madrid train twice, and all the participants – Jorge Campos was one of them – received a copy of the pro version of the Mourinho Tactical Board software.

And here’s an update on six-year-old Zión Torres, who invited Iker Casillas to his birthday party last year while the team was in Los Angeles.  Iker had to decline, but posed for a photo with the kid.  This year, Zión wanted to get “el mejor goalie del mundo” to sign a blown up copy of the photo.  Did he succeed?  I love Zión’s glasses and his dad’s Manu Ginóbili jersey!

Today’s Pipita quote, courtesy of Álvaro Arbeloa: “tenes menos onda que pelo de japonés!” [sic].  It’s a bit hard to explain, since there is a pun involved.  “Tener onda” means to be cool, and “onda” also means wave.  Translated literally, it means “you have less wave than the hair of a Japanese person.”  In the context of the expression, however, it means something akin to “you’re so uncool.”  Does the explanation make sense?  I’m reading it over and I’m not sure it does… and it was all so clear in my head.  Álvaro also posted this photo of him and Jesé!

And the club also announced that Zinedine Zidane will start working with the cantera as he seeks to become more immersed in coaching.  In addition, this year he will complete the technical director course he is taking, so soon he’ll become a jack of all trades for Real Madrid!  I wonder if he’ll end up coaching any of his sons?

a full first day in Los Angeles

It wouldn’t be the pre-season without some cheesy yet somehow adorable self portraits!

In Los Angeles.

The plane carrying our team touched down in Los Angeles at around 15:30h local time on Saturday afternoon, after a 12-hour flight from Madrid.  The team was then ferried by bus to their hotel during their stay in LA, the Beverly Hills Hotel.

On Sunday, they had a double training session, with a press conference given by Iker Casillas sandwiched in between.  The morning session was notable for the fact that it was the first time that the 10 players who had reached the semifinals of the Eurocopa and had been on vacation until July 28 (with the exception of Coentrão) trained with their teammates.

Oh to be able to do this to Iker and not get arrested!!!!

FP watched over the training session, alongside members of his Real Madrid board, José Ángel Sánchez, Emilio Butragueño and Miguel Pardeza.  He was also very much in demand with autograph seekers.  It’s great to see FP smiling again!

With Cristiano seemingly intent on showing every inch of his legs possible, I hope this year MFC Álvaro Borja Morata Martín will be able to concentrate on the ball, and not Cris’ legs.  By the way, I loved that ABMM stood up to shake FP’s hand when he came to greet him on the plane (Rafa Varane, to his left, remained seated; video here).  This shows that ABMM’s parents raised him right.

Pepe was in a great mood… it’s Superpepe!

The second session was held on Sunday afternoon, with all 25 players participating.

With the boys doing great on their high kicks, can “Real Madrid: The Musical” be far behind?

It was great to see that fans were able to line the passageway leading to the training field, and that many of the boys stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures, especially since they never do this type of thing in Madrid.  In general, training sessions are closed to the public, and the team also does not hold autograph sessions like they do when they visit other cities in Spain for games.  So, most of the time, the only chance people in Madrid have of meeting players are if you run into them in a shop or a restaurant, which is always awkward because you don’t want to interrupt whatever they’re doing.  It’s ironic, no?  The fans in the city which gives the team its name don’t have the same opportunities.  Although I can’t complain that much, because some of us get to watch many more games than everyone else.

The press conference.

At the press conference, Iker had the following to say.

on the team under José Mourinho: he’s a committed person, he’s not at all what he appears to be on television when you get to know him.  He has turned the team around completely and he’s brought out the best in us.  He helped the players to banish those fears we had when we weren’t winning anything.  It was a great decision [to bring him in as coach], he has a project for many years and he’s very happy here.  We hope it’s a turning point.

on the Ballon d’Or: it’s important for your name to be there.  As Víctor [Valdés] and Pepe [Reina] said, the goalkeeper is part of the game, and I don’t like it when it’s said that football is played with the feet.  The defender who gives the pass is as important as the one who scores the goal.

on objectives for this year: they’re similar to those of last year.  We aspire to take one more step forward like we did in the last two seasons with Mourinho.  We want to consolidate the team, and we want to win all the titles: the Supercopa, the Copa, we want to defend the Liga, and we hope for the Champions after years without winning it.  My team and my players [spoken like a true captain!] are the best for me.

on Castilla and RMC: I’m happy because Castilla has been promoted to the Liga Adelante and also for RMC, which will play in the Segunda B division.  It will be important for them and it will help them to mature.  For the first team, this is a priority because it helps them grow as players.  For us, the cantera is important.

Other things.

And over on twitter, we found out that Sergio Ramos and Fábio Coentrão decided to race each other in a 25-meter freestyle competition.  It looks like the decision was a spur of the moment thing, because… are both the boys in their underwear?  So they just stripped off their clothes and decided to go for it?  Lovely!

Sergio was the big winner – even though Fábio made it into the pool first – and made sure everyone knew it.  He tweeted, “I have to say, he didn’t measure up to El Churu…” and also made sure there was visual evidence.  He’s quite the competitor, isn’t he?  I also love how Pepe and Antonio, as well as Silvino, Rui and José, were there to be the judges and yell encouragement and other things, I’m sure.

Meanwhile, both Raúl Albiol and Álvaro Arbeloa tweeted amusing things that Pipa said.  El Chori’s contribution was “Que desayunaste con Piñon Fijo?? [sic].” Piñon Fijo is an Argentine clown, and the phrase translates to “did you eat a clown for breakfast?” meaning that someone is in a good mood and laughing.  As for Álvaro, he said, “we have to create a section with Gonzalo’s phrases.  Here is an example: ‘a crocodile that sleeps becomes a wallet.’”

And I hope José Callejón’s future tweets will be as great as the photos he’s been sharing!

Castilla news.

In Castilla news, our second team beat Getafe B 2-0 in a pre-season friendly behind two goals from Pedro Mosquera.  Speaking of Pedro, he’s now on twitter, and among the players to say “welcome” was one of his best friends, PF Juan Mata.  Juanín called Pedro the “best left foot” in Spain, and Pedro responded, “thanks brother!  I love you!!”  Denis also welcomed his teammate to twitter, and Pedro told him, “now you have to teach me about twitter!”  Meanwhile, Joselu also welcomed Pedro, but the latter didn’t respond like he had with Denis, so Joselu tweeted, “Pedro is not writing me, thanks Pedro Mosquera for being such a nice guy, jajaja.”  That caught Pedro’s attention, and he responded, “cabrón, my phone is going crazy, it blocked me!  I was looking for you, I would never forget you.  Thanks Selu, grande.”  I love the banter!