The call-up list is out and Pepe is injured. José Mourinho, Fábio Coentrão and Fatih Terim speak in the UEFA press conference while Özil is interviewed by Besiktas television in a day for interesting interviews.
José Mourinho & Fábio Coentrão
The boss has spent the morning drilling a very simple message into his players' heads. He is taking the match very seriously and expects them to do the same.
In the first meeting we [the team] have had, we have watched a playoff where a team won at home 3-0 and lost the next game 3-0 on the road. The next meeting was tactical and we saw that Galatasaray might play differently against us. The message is having its impact, and it would surprise me if my people aren't ready. My people are going to respond and they are going to be how they should be.
It's their culture. In the UEFA, in 2003, I played in this country after giving them a good thrashing with Oporto. In the next game, we found a stadium full of joy, motivation, and passion. The adversary didn't seem to be the same one. If a Portuguese, Spanish, or Italian team gets a thrashing, the next game they're either alone or the fans are booing them. That's why I'm expecting a hot stadium tomorrow, but we like that. The football players are going to enjoy playing in a great stadium and with fans who are expecting a good game.
The message appears to have got through to Fábio Coentrão, who emphasized in his answers to questions that he was taking the match very seriously, and expected the team to find the atmosphere difficult. "These are special fans," he noted. "To play in the semi-final we have to play a serious game."
Fatih Terim: "Miracles happen."
The opposing coach said what he must: he hopes his team will give their all. He hopes his stadium will lift his team. And he expressed some bitterness over the unjust loss of his best player, Burak Yilmaz, to an officiating error.
He was wryly forced to admit his opposite number probably had the right attitude: "Mourinho's answer is very correct for a coach that doesn't want his team to lose the playoff."
Mesut Özil Is Interviewed & Real Madrid Legend Guti Is Remembered
Özil, fluent in Turkish and widely expected to be doing the press conference with José Mourinho, spent his afternoon giving an interview
to Beşiktaş television instead.
For the uninitiated, Beşiktaş is Galatasaray's great local enemy - both clubs on the European side of town. For a player who is already expected to get a hot reception in the Turk Telekom (one leaves aside his doubly-damned status as a known Fenerbahçe fan - a rivalry that is, if possible, even worse), it was a cheeky move from Özil.
The main reason the interview is of interest though is because Real Madrid legend Guti came up. Guti greatly endeared himself to the Beşiktaş fans while in Istanbul, winning the league cup with the team, securing European football, and assisting in a derby-win.
Interviewer: We would like to ask you, Mesut, before you leave us, about international star Guti, who played with us here. When you were newly arrived in Spain - this was two years ago and you may remember it - he said "Mesut is a unique player; his reading of the game, his ability to know when to play the ball and when to hold it up is special. He is unbelievably unique." What would you like to say about Guti?
Özil: I saw his games, because I was fascinated by Madrid as a child. When I first arrived comparisons were sometimes made between us. He had a wonderful left-foot and made incredible passes. He had quality...for that reason it makes me proud he would say such nice things about me and I would like to thank him.
It's doubtful Özil actively sought out this opportunity to antagonize Galatasaray. With the team training in the Beşiktaş facilities it was only natural he would be sought out by the in-house media. Nevertheless, we will probably find out tomorrow how badly his final statement ("To Beşiktaş I also wish the best of luck in the league.") has irritated the Galatasaray fans.
Raúl is Interviewed
While Guti was being remembered fondly in Istanbul, his partner-in-success Raúl González, the man who practically embodies Real Madrid, spoke to Tele5. Unsurprisingly, he really hopes Madrid wins the tenth Champions League trophy this year, and thinks they can do it.
The Squad & Squad Politics
The biggest news is that Pepe is injured and may not start tomorrow. Sergio Ramos is suspended so the biggest problem facing Mourinho is who to place next to Raphael Varane. It will almost certainly be Raúl Albiol ahead of youth-teamer Nacho. There is also some confusion as to which midfielder will start next to Sami Khedira
(who was rested on the weekend). It could be Modric. It could be Essien. Or both could play and Álvaro Arbeloa could be re-consigned to the bench.
Özil appears to have shaken off the knock he picked up last week. And Cristiano Ronaldo
is fully recovered.
In other news: all four goalkeepers travelled. Mourinho's reason: "I didn't want Jesús training alone in Madrid." Naturally, this has received some considerable media attention even though there's little doubt who will start in goal.
Mourinho again: "I'm not very interested in the past. I'm more interested in the present and, in this case, in the future. What I can say is that Casillas is training very well and that's good for him, for Real Madrid, for me, and for his teammates."
REAL MADRID'S SQUAD:
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Diego López, Adán, Jesús.
Defenders: Varane, Pepe, Coentrão, Marcelo, Arbeloa, Albiol, Nacho.
Midfielders: Khedira, Özil, Essien, Modric, Callejón, Di María.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema, Higuaín, Morata.
We preview this match in our third episode of Managing Madrid Podcast. Subscribe and rate us on the iTunes Store, that will be helpful to spread the madridista word. If you don't use iTunes, go and check our site in Ivoox, where you'll be able to listen to our podcast as well.