Midweek Press Review: Granada, Scandal, Gossip & International Week

Denis Doyle

With the players gone on International break and the loss on the weekend there has been plenty to say about the team. News out of Spain on doping and from Europol about match-fixing have also taken some headlines.

Granada - Post Match Coverage

Jose Mourinho was outraged by his players' performance in the first half of the match on Saturday and said so during the post-game press conference. The team, in his estimation, played better in the second half, but still didn't deserve to win over all.

He was also rather sarcastic about his starters, noting: "I don't know how players who sat on the bench on Wednesday could be so tired." Post-match speculation in the press suggests he is worried about his left-backs (Marcelo still considerably off the pace and Coentrao in a form-dip) and that Angel di Maria's performances are becoming a concern.

The player himself came in for specific criticism, with Mourinho complaining about a player who "gets an injury when the team are a goal down and need to keep going" and who then "looks around for the doctors to come" instead of trying to get on with the game.

The press conference was sufficiently caustic for Real Madrid's website to decline to put up the usual transcript. The club's Twitter feed was characteristically diplomatic.

The players themselves did not address the media immediately after the game.

Since then however, two of them have made their feelings known. Sergio Ramos apologized via Twitter to the fans the next day, and in an interview given today with the DFB, Sami Khedira told Die Mannschaft's internal media that "the way we played in Granada was unworthy of Real Madrid."

In general, this loss has made few headlines. The league is considered out of reach, Khedira noted himself in his interview that he doubted it was possible, and Sid Lowe (speaking to Football Weekly) believes that Madrid's lackluster performance can mainly be put down to that.

It was the first win for a Liga side in a decade with no shots on target (their goal came courtesy of Cristiano Ronaldo's first career own goal). This stat, which is not without charm, is making the rounds in post-game write-ups.

Transfer News

The new loan-signing, the Brazilian Casemiro, has arrived in Madrid, ostensibly to begin work with Madrid's second division team. But the young man himself has already spoken of his ambition to break into the first team "as fast as possible" and today, took a step in that direction. Real Madrid have registered him for the Champions League. We await with interest how this loan-signing turns out.

Doping & Fixing

Former Madrid player and coach Vincente del Bosque (now coach of Spain) was interviewed today on the occasion of his 68th match coaching Spain (he will match the record set by Ladislao Kubala in 1980 - when del Bosque himself was still a player with Spain) and said that the idea of doping upset him so badly he "prefers not to think about it."

Unfortunately it is not going to be escaping his attention any time soon. Allegations by a former President of Real Sociedad, Iñaki Badiola, that the club paid under-the-table for drugs, have resurfaced.

Badiola was filmed in 2008 telling a meeting of shareholders that the club had purchased illicit drugs using laundered cash before his arrival. The recording has been made available by ASTV. Badiola's allegations extend to the year La Real finished second in the league.

And yesterday morning, Europol held a press conference on an unrelated case: alleged match-fixing of hundreds of matches across Europe. Extensive details are not yet available, but two of the Europa League matches (involving Fenerbahce and Budapest Hunved; Rapid Vienna and Vllaznia Shkodër) have already been named by German newspaper Bild.

In addition, the paper notes that two Champions league matches, fourteen Europa league qualification matches, two U21 European Championship matches, 2 World Cup qualification and matches and one Euro Championship qualification match are believed to have been influenced.


General Gossip

Iker Casillas has removed the cast on his hand and posted a picture over social media. "I am very happy and hope to be with my teammates soon."

Cristiano Ronaldo remains injured. It is his 28th birthday today and he will be captaining Portugal tomorrow, in spite of a persistent injury to his ankle. The man who never knows how to stop did say once: "I am addicted to playing for my country." Madridistas worldwide will hope he, and the rest of the players off contesting meaningless friendlies, returns home in one piece.

Last reports had Xabi Alonso still in one piece - just. He will not be playing tomorrow and has withdrawn from national team duties with Spain due to injury.

Happy Birthday to Cristiano Ronaldo and good luck to Xabi Alonso.

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