Lozil is traveling for work, so I’m going to hold the fort down while she’s gone. Basically, I’m here to make sure none of you crazies burn it down!
The team finished their preparations for the match against Sevilla. Borja Mayoral and Carlos Abad joined the first team.
Marcelo and Keylor continued their recovery inside while Jese missed the training due to a stomach illness. Karim combined some individual work with group work.
“We know it won’t be an easy game and we’ll require the utmost concentration to avoid making any mistakes”, he added.
Rafa Benítez spoke to the press about Sunday’s upcoming encounter (8:30pm CET) against Sevilla in the Sánchez Pizjuán: “It’s a tough ground to go to, the home supporters really get behind their team. Sevilla are a side with a spectacular record over recent years, although they’ve always been one of the big teams. It’s always a tricky stadium to go to and they’re always a tough team to play against. We know it won’t be an easy game and that we’ll need to be extremely focused”.
“We need to impose our playing style during the match but even then it will be a difficult challenge. We’ll be required to play with the utmost concentration to avoid making any mistakes. Sevilla have a great manager, great fans and a great team. They have quality, physicality… They’re a very hard team to play against and just need to rediscover their form of the last few years. I’m hoping they don’t managed to that in this match. It’ll be a tough game because in every department Sevilla are a top level side”.
“We still have to finalise the final squad for this game, but Gareth will be included. If he’s made it into the squad that means there’s a chance he’ll play, but we still have to see for how long”.
“He’s in the final stages of his recovery. We’ve decided to leave him here so he can get back to 100% fitness. He’s in good spirits, but he won’t be travelling to Seville. On a personal level, the club sent out a statement that we all agree with and there’s not much else to say about the matter. He returned the other day, trained, did his work for that day and that’s all I’m going to say. Karim has our full support”.
“He still needs a bit of time to get back to full fitness. We don’t want to take any risks. Everyone who works with Karim knows what he’s like and all his team-mates and the club are fully behind him. The most sensible thing to do now is wait to see what the findings are”.
“We’re not taking any chances with him. We knew he had a muscle strain and that’s still the case, so we don’t want to risk it and make things worse. I have total faith in Kiko and we’d rather not take any chances”.
“The team seem happy to me and have been training excellently. Cristiano is scoring for fun and looks happy to me. He scored three goals in training today. I read that his agent said he’s happy and that he’ll finish his career here. If he’s as happy and effective as he showed today then I’m at ease. I hope he’s here for years to come and continues scoring hatfuls of goals”.
“He’s a fantastic player, I like the eagerness he has to play and take part. As a manager I have a responsibility. He’s been out injured for 55 days and I’m delighted that he’s itching to play again. He’s an important player for us, not just for two or three games but for the whole season”.
“I’ve already made a comment about the matter with the Colombian national team. With the rules as they are, if he’s called up then he has to go. I hope he scores 5 goals in each game. What really matters to me though is that he comes back healthy. He’s in the squad and there’s a chance he’ll play”.
Last match before the Clásico
“The biggest concern I have right now is preparing the team for the Sevilla clash. I’m not making any plans about the Clásico just yet. My only thoughts are on ensuring that we’re in the best possible shape to play in a difficult ground”.
What Cristiano said to Blanc
(Benítez whispers something in the press officer’s ear) “What did I say to him? If no one knows, then I’ve made my point”
The president’s conversation with Cristiano
“You’re all aware of the president’s relationship with Cristiano and of Cristiano’s level of professionalism. That aside, I remember us winning that game. We’re through to the last 16 and there’s no need to keep going over what was said”.
“Do you think you’re going to have a job in a year’s time? You can’t know that. None of us can be certain about what will happen in the future. Cristiano is happy and training to score loads of goals. Sevilla’s stadium is a happy hunting ground for him. I hope he continues scoring lots of goals and winning titles for us for many years to come”.
The following players were called up for the match:
Goalkeepers: Kiko Casilla, Rubén Yáñez and Carlos Abad.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Ramos, Nacho, Arbeloa and Danilo.
Midfielders: Kroos, James, Bale, Casemiro, Kovacic, Modric, Cheryshev and Isco.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Lucas Vázquez and Jesé.
I like having so many players back but I’m hesitant as international break is next week!
Yesterday the mothership posted video of the team doctors stapling Isco’s head. It is not for the faint of heart. If you aren’t squeamish, you can view it here.
Tomorrow’s match isn’t the only excitement going on. Pilar Rubio should be giving birth any day, meaning Sergio is about to have his second child. It feels like they just had the first!
And, in what I will assume is celebration of the impending birth of Baby Pony #2, Sergio got a new tattoo.
I will post a photo when it’s revealed. I will also make a post for the birth.