Catching Up: Thursday & Friday

28 Aug

Satellite (2)Work and life conspire to keep me behind on…everything. So let’s see if I can do a quick catch up before they actually play again!

Thursday Training

G.Bale returned to the fold as the slight knock he took improved.

UEFA Champions League Draw

Cristiano jetted off the the Champions League Draw where he was on the short list for UEFA Best Player in Europe which he did not win (Messi did). He certainly looked the best!

©Getty Images for UEFA

©Getty Images for UEFA

©Getty Images for UEFA

©Getty Images for UEFA

Messi’s face in the background is cracking me up. He always looks so gormless.

Adidas Shoot

Cris wasn’t the only one jet setting: Nacho & Arbeloa headed off to Marseille for the day to do an Adidas shoot.

Friday Training

The whole team was available today in prep for the match with Real Betis.



BenĂ­tez: “The Betis game is my priority; I’m not on the lookout on the market
by Javier Garcia | Photographer: Angel Martinez

“I’m expecting them to set up like Sporting, they’re back in the First Division and will be highly motivated”, added the Whites’ manager.

Rafa BenĂ­tez spoke to the assembled media outlets in the Ciudad Real Madrid press room on the eve of the Santiago BernabĂ©u’s inaugural La Liga fixture of the season (Saturday, 10:30pm CEST). The manager talked about the Betis game: “Pepe Mel knows this ground and Spanish football. He understands the importance of doing well in the BernabĂ©u. I’m expecting them to set up like Sporting, they’ll be eager to do well. They have great fans and will be highly motivated to give a good account of themselves and get a good result. We are expecting a hard working opposition side, one that will run itself into the ground and not make life easy for us”.

“We’re training tomorrow and I’ll wait until the last moment to make my final decision about the line-up. The squad is narrower now and all our players are very important in my opinion. I’m going to try to ensure the team are at their best for each game. If that means playing Ronaldo, Bale and Benzema or Lucas and Cheryshev, that’s what I’ll try to do. I didn’t come here just to win the first game, but to create a well-oiled side and get to the end of the season winning matches and titles”.

Is the squad finalised?
“I’m done answering these types of questions. We have a game coming up against Betis and that’s what matters most. I’m focused on the match and not the market. I want the team to be in good shape tomorrow and for things to go well. We have a very good side, a number of players have left and that will strengthen those still here because they’ll play a bigger role in terms of the team’s performance now. The Betis game is my priority”.

“25 players is the limit. Twenty-one outfielders and three goalkeepers is a good number. The squad is in good shape. We’ve evaluated what we have and the reason behind some players leaving is that we believe that those we have here can cover every position. In football luck and injuries also influence things. We have a good squad and we’re not paying any particular attention to the market, we’re just trying to get the best out of this group of players”.

James on the bench
“Players are given a few days off after a World Cup or a Copa AmĂ©rica. James joined up with us a bit later, within the usual timeframe, knowing that he’d be arriving without having done as much preseason as his team-mates. It’s a technical decision”.

“There are people who like starting debates. James is a great player and is fundamental to our plans, as is Isco and the rest of their team-mates. What I’d like is for everyone to follow in James’ footsteps. I’m happy, I want… That’s what they need to do and then it’s up to me to make the decision. If he doesn’t play it’ll only because of a technical decision, there’s nothing to talk about”.

“Having spent three weeks working by himself he doesn’t have the same level of match fitness as his team-mates. He’s ready to be put on but we’ll have to see for how long. We have to decide if he’s able to start and, if not, how many minutes he could be on the pitch for”.

“He’s a great player. He’s a forward who does almost everything well. His problem is that he has to play continually. The quality is there. He puts defenders off balance, can lose his marker and scores goals. He’s good at everything. I’ve given him a scoring target of between 20 and 25 goals, and also want him to keep on providing assists and everything else. He’s an extremely important player for us in attack”.

Criticism towards Bale
“I understand that there are a lot of media outlets and they have to come up with stories. That means blowing a small story into a big one. At the moment with Gareth it appears that having a pacey player, with a good shot, who can put defenders off balance and can do so many things well is actually a problem”.

“We have a great squad and we are looking to get the best out of it.”

“Having Bale, Ronaldo, Benzema, JesĂ©… in your forward line is a blessing, not a problem. That these debates get started really surprises me. We are the side that had most shots on goal on matchday one. If shooting on goal more than anyone else is defensive, then I’m completely lost. Attacking is looking to cause damage to your opponent. That’s what we did. It wasn’t defensive, it was attack minded, although we did lack precision”.

Bale’s position
“A coach has to manage a very talented group of players. The positions are what they are, there are eleven places. I think Bale is a fantastic player, just like the rest of his team-mates. Each of them has their own attributes and qualities. I have to manage the group so that we can win games while juggling the players around. I have to manage the dynamic of the group”.

“I can’t guarantee a player’s position or place in the team for the whole season. One of the things I stand by is the freedom of the front men. If I restrict them to a position they say it confines them. If they have freedom to roam the say it becomes confusing. I’m managing a group of players for the whole season. I make mistakes on occasion but I’ll try to keep that to a minimum and get the best performances out of the team. I ask the supporters to be calm, we’ll play with intensity, we’ll score goals, we’re confident and we know what we have to do”.

Analysis after the Sporting game
“I always assess things after each match. It surprised me to hear so many people evaluate our performance as defensive. We had more strikes on goal than any other team. There were things we need to correct. We’ve discussed those points and looked at the video. I’m working towards making the team more and more competitive. At the end of the day, people need to see the work being carried out and the team have to understand what they’re doing”.

The Champions League draw
“It’s not an easy group. PSG are a great side with great footballers, Shakhtar have plenty of experience and quality players, while Malmö are the defending champions of their domestic league and knocked out Celtic. It’s not an easy group”.

De Gea and Van Gaal
“Just as I show respect towards players from other sides, I also do the same with other managers. I have no right to talk about Louis van Gaal. I’m focused on my own squad and I’m not prepared to talk about that”.



Bale: “We want to beat Betis and play well for the fans”

“The team is very united and we all have the same objective: win loads of titles”, he said in his first ever interview in Spanish.

Gareth Bale has just begun his third season with Real Madrid. The Welsh player gave his first interview in Spanish to and Realmadrid TV, in which he spoke about the team’s current situation and the objectives for the season: “The supporters treat me well and I give my all for this shirt”.

First and foremost, thank you for daring to do this interview.
Thank you, I’ll try to do it in Spanish.

How is the team getting ready for the first La Liga home game and what would you like to tell the fans ahead of this debut match against Betis?
We aren’t happy about the Sporting result. We’re excited, we want to beat Betis and play well for our supporters.

This is the beginning of you third season with the team. How do you feel?
I feel great. I hope we can play good football and win loadds of titles.

What do you enjoy most about Madrid as a city?
I really like Madrid. I like the restaurants; the ham is fantastic (laughs). The weather is amazing, so are the people. And Cibeles is the best thing about it for me.

What do supporters say to you when they see you out on the street?
The supporters treat me well and playing for Real Madrid is a dream come true for me. I give my all for this shirt and these fans.

Real Madrid have a new manager now. What has struck you most about Rafa BenĂ­tez?
Rafa BenĂ­tez is a very good manager, we work really hard in training and in matches.

What are Gareth Bale’s personal objectives for the season?
I want to play well to help the team. The team is really united and we want to win each match and all of the titles.

What is the team spirit like at Real Madrid?
The team is extremely united and we all have the same objective: win loads of titles.

What have your highlights been at Real Madrid up until this point?
For me the greatest moments were winning the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. I’m certain we’ll win more titles in the future.

What do you remember about la DĂ©cima?
For me the game in Munich was huge and the Lisbon final was one of the best sporting moments in my life.

You are known as the man of the finals because you have practically scored in all of them. Do you feel fortunate?
I like scoring in finals because it’s the best feeling in the world.

How will you approach the Group Stage of the Champions League?
The Champions League is always extremely difficult. The standard of the teams is very high and we’ll have to fight in each game.

The aim of the Welsh national side is to qualify for the European Championship. How are you coping with that at the moment?
We want to make it to the European Championship but there are tough games still to play before we start thinking about France.

Thank you for your hard work and for speaking to us.
Thank you, I hope you were able to understand my Spanish.

Our Champions League group stage matches are as follows – mark your calendars!


Real Madrid-Shakhtar Donetsk (Tuesday, 9/15/15).
Malmo-Real Madrid (Wednesday, 9/30/15).
PSG-Real Madrid (Wednesday, 10/21/15).
Real Madrid-PSG (Tuesday, 11/3/15).
Shakhtar Donetsk-Real Madrid (Wednesday, 11/25/15).
Real Madrid-Malmo (Tuesday, 12/8/15).

Illarra stopped by see the guys and say farewell:

And here are some facts about Betis:

Let’s hope tomorrow’s match goes much better than last week’s!

– Lozil

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