Prepping For Bilbao

4 Oct

Satellite (2)After a day full of internet connection problems that kept me offline, I’m finally back and able to post. The team had their last training before tomorrow’s match against Athletic.

Crisba returned to training with the rest of the team, joined with Castilla’s Jacob. G-Money was particularly saucy, goofing around with Lukita. Fabio worked out indoors as he’s still injured. Sami & Jese continued their recovery.  (Training video)


Ancelotti: “The fans are delighted with this run and we have to keep it going”
by Javier Garcia

“Athletic fight, have character and quality, and it will be a dangerous match,” said the Whites’ coach.

Speaking at Saturday’s pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti analysed the encounter against Athletic at the Santiago Bernabéu. The Italian had words of praise for the Whites’ opponents: “They’re a team who fight, and have character and quality. They didn’t have such an easy start to the season, because they had to prepare for their Champions League play-off. We have to be on our guard because they have quality and character. They could see this as the ideal match in which to produce a reaction.”

“We will play in a 4-3-3 formation. We have to sort out a few things in terms of balance, and we may play with four midfielders when we don’t have the ball. All the players are in good shape and have recovered. The team is improving physically. Cristiano is in very good shape, he has fully recovered and is firing on all cylinders. Iker will also play tomorrow. Coentrão, Khedira and Jesé are out.”

Support from the fans
“The Bernabéu will help us, as it always does. It’s a dangerous and difficult match against a team that isn’t on a good run of form. All the Madrid fans are delighted with our good run and we have to keep it going.”

Good run
“We’re in pretty good form, with a good run of results and playing well. We have to sort out a few things, like being more compact when we defend. Our effectiveness in attack is very good. Compared with last year, at this stage we had more problems. We didn’t have balance or a very clear idea of how to play. In terms of its play, the team is in better shape.”

“Defensive work isn’t an individual issue, it isn’t only about Bale. Everyone has to give more. I ask the same of Cristiano and Benzema, more work in winning the ball back.”

“Cristiano is in very good shape and has fully recovered.”

“The positive reviews Benzema is getting for the match the other day are good for him. The other day he did very well when he came on, and scored the important goal. He is improving bit by bit.”

“He is working individually; he still hasn’t trained with the ball and I don’t think he’ll be ready for his national team. He has been called up, but we have given them our report and they will decide. He has had a knee sprain. It’s a problem that doesn’t allow him to train with the ball, because he feels pain. He is doing running to be in good physical condition. After the international break we hope he’ll be fine.”

“Varane played very well, with assurance and quality. Now Pepe returns and Varane will be rested for this game. There isn’t a set pairing. We have three central defenders of a very high level and all three deserve to play.”

“James isn’t Di María, he’s a different player. I’m not going to ask him to do the same, because they have different physical and technical characeristics. I’m happy with him. He is focused, is doing well and will continue to improve.”

“The match on Wednesday doesn’t change anything. He is a very important player for us. Tomorrow James will start, because he didn’t on Wednesday. Those who were rested on Wednesday will start.”

Set pieces
“We’re concerned about them, and Valverde is one of the best coaches in that area. We’re working to sort it out. We shouldn’t be afraid about it. Real Madrid aren’t the only team that concedes goals from set pieces. We’re not happy, we’re working to sort it out, but it’s something that can happen.”

Paco Jémez comments on Zidane
“It isn’t easy for me to get into this issue. In a press conference, there is the danger of speaking too much. This coach spoke too much. Zidane has been doing a course with the French FA for two years and in other countries you can coach teams when you’re doing the course. There is a different rule in Spain. Paco spoke too much.”

“He has been out for four weeks. The estimate was that it would be six weeks, so he has two left and after the break we hope he can start working with us.”

The following players were called up for the match:

Goalkeepers: Casillas, Keylor Navas and Pacheco.
Defenders: Ramos, Varane, Pepe, Nacho, Arbeloa, Carvajal and Marcelo.
Midfielders: Modric, Kroos, Isco, Illarra, James and Bale.
Forwards: Ronaldo, Benzema and Chicharito.

Arbeloa posted this cute shot with Illara, Jese and James.

It must be said: what the ever lovin’ hell is going on with James’ jeans?! He’s got these skinny pipe cleaner legs, but the whole crotch area is…weird. It looks like he’s wearing a diaper under there. Did he accidentally steal a pair of Salome’s training pants?! Also,  as we well know, I loathe distressed jeans. I bet those are D Squared.

Let’s hope for a much more decisive victory tomorrow. None of that nonsense we had going on against Ludogorets, please!

(Additional training photos via GFSports)

– Lozil

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