Real Madrid's media circus has snowballed to such great heights in the last few days that Wednesday's match against Málaga has lurked in the backdrop while the Mourinho/Pepe/press saga continues to hog the limelight. Here's an honest attempt at highlighting the manager's presser while previewing tomorrow's football game:
Real Madrid's manager attended the usual pre-game press conference on Tuesday and spoke about Pepe's comments, whether he's trying to get fired, and what Málaga brings to the table. Here is my translation from Spanish to English of Mourinho's best bits:
With regards to Pepe's comments, in which the defender said the manager should show more respect toward Iker Casillas, Mourinho said:
"Pepe's problem is easy to analyze. It's called Raphael Varane. You don't need to be very intelligent, in fact it's enough to be normal like me to understand that we are talking about frustration. It's not easy for a player like Pepe to be unseated by a 19-year-old boy, but the boy is fantastic. I have been brave enough to play him (Varane) so the problem is very simple. Pepe's life, on a sporting level, has changed."
On whether Mourinho is trying to force his exit from the club, the Portuguese had this to say:
"I intend to continue. The fans believe what you (the press) sell, so to make it very clear I am telling you that I will only charge Real Madrid through the last day I work here. I do not want even one Euro more I've decided I do not want to continue here."
On tomorrow's opponents, Mou said:
"Málaga is a dangerous team that can win here. If we are not at our best it will be difficult. They are a good team that play as a group. They have a good defense, a great attack and create a lot of danger especially with their counterattacks."
Málaga sits in sixth place behind Valencia with a total of 53 points. The fourth place spot that guarantees an appearance in next year's Champions League is currently occupied by a Real Sociedad side boasting 58 points. After dropping points this past Saturday in a defeat to Granada, Málaga is desperate to bounce back with a victory and make a run at Valencia and Sociedad's standing.
After witnessing Málaga's exciting quarterfinal clash against Borussia Dortmund, Madridistas know that Pellegrini's side should not be underestimated. Pellegrini's preferred line-up in La Liga is a 4-2-3-1 featuring Isco in the hole and either Roque Santa Cruz or Javier Saviola at striker, but fans of both Málaga and Chelsea are eager to see more of young Brazilian forward Lucas Piazón. Nineteen-year-old Lucas is on loan from Stamford Bridge and plays a fast, direct style of football that draws comparisons to fellow São Paulo product and Madrid man Ricardo Kaká; however, Lucas has been quick to dispel those comparisons and attributes them more to the players' shared roots than to their actual playing styles.
Málaga will be without midfielder Toulalan and defenders Jesús Gaméz and Weligton for tomorrow's match.
REAL MADRID SQUAD LIST
Goalkeepers: Casillas, Diego López and Adán.
Defenders: Varane, Albiol, Coentrão, Carvalho, Nacho and Fabinho.
Midfielders: Kaká, Özil, Xabi Alonso, Essien, Modric, Callejón and Di María.
Forwards: Cristiano Ronaldo, Benzema and Higuaín.
Mourinho stated in his press conference that Diego Lopez will start in goal and with Nacho at right-back, Varane and Albiol at centre-back, and Fabio Coentrão at left-back. Castilla defender Fabinho is the biggest surprise on the squad list and the young Brazilian could make his first team debut tomorrow. Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa and Marcelo remain injured, while Khedira is either resting or nursing a mild knock. Pepe has been conspicuously left off the squad list.
Managing Madrid, give us your starting XI predictions!
Real Madrid kicks-off on Wednesday, May 8th at 9:30 pm CET/ 3:30 pm EST/ 12:30 pm PST.