After several weeks
waiting to recover the long list of injured players, Juan Ramón López Caro has
finally been able to train with a semi-full squad. The only absentees were Raúl,
Diego López, and Miñambres, because Ronaldo, Pablo García, Salgado, and Guti
trained normally in a 90-minute session to prepare for the 9 pm Sunday match
against Celta at the Balaídos stadium.
The image of the day came at 11 am, when the squad stepped out from the changing
room and onto thefrozen field at Valdebebas. The temperature, close to0º
Centigrade or freezing point, forced players to protect themselves from the
extreme weather. Among them were welcome-backers Ronaldo, Salgado, and Pablo
García. As expected, the trio of injured players recovered at the beginning of
the week and immediately joined the squad managed by López Caro. Also included
in the list of recent recoveries is Guti, who missed the match against Betis due
to a right ankle sprain.
The first part of the session was devoted to train the players' physical
form. Physical trainer Pau Albertí, designed an obstacle race-like training
activity that included skipping, hurdles, and cones to build up muscle tone in
the lower body and to increase speed and responsive alertness. None of the
returning players felt any pain as the intensity soared.
Then came the customary piggy in the middle practice rounds monitored by manager
López Caro, where he demands of his players “maximum concentration” during ball
movement, man-on-man pressure, and interception.
Connecting with the Fans
Approximately two hundred rowdy supporters, mainly a young crowd, stoically
bore the icy cold temperatures at Valdebebas while they enjoyed a King of the
Hill-style three-way game during the last half hour of the session. The manager
handed out bibs and witnessed the recovery of Ronaldo personally. Real Madrid's
number 9 even attempted a bicycle kick amidst his teammates' amazement; Salgado
pressured unrelentlessly playing as right fullback, and Pablo García led and
commanded the team. Guti had forgotten all about the niggle which left him out
of the Cup's game and scored one of the morning's most spectacular goals.
Before, under the supervision of General Football Manager Benito Floro and of Dr.
Juan Carlos Hernández, the team practised one of the most common training
activities since the arrival of the ex-coach of Real Madrid Castilla, playing
down the wings and centering. Here, we saw Zidane demonstrate once more he's in
top form, Cassano's craftiness and intelligence to gain on his rivals, or the
superb assists of David Beckham from the right wing. The contribution of
Castilla goalkeeper David Cobeño is worthy of underlining. He is really helping
the first team out in the absence of Real Madrid second keeper Diego López. The
last, closed-door training session before traveling to Vigo to face a Celta on
the rise will be held tomorrow.
Saturday 28 January @ 11 am, Real Madrid City, closed doors.
Sunday 29 January, Celta-Real Madrid, 9 pm.