It is Christmas in May! Deck the halls Madridistas, as a wonderful gift was given to you. For the first time since March 12, the first teams for football and basketball returned to work at Real Madrid City in Valdebebas.
On the social media accounts and website for Real Madrid, video and photo galleries were released of various players performing individual drills on the main field. From captains Sergio Ramos and Marcelo dribbling, to Luka Modric and Raphael Varane juggling in solitude, the cameras showed 22 players engaged in light practice.
During the carousel of shots, a phenomenal breath of relief was released after Eden Hazard and Marco Asensio were shown focusing on drills. Hazard and Asensio, who were sidelined before the pandemic hit, appear to be close to 100%. This is fantastic news as Real Madrid struggled with offensive productivity since late January.
Seen twice in the foreground, the “CEO” of the group Zinedine Zidane was giving instructions and encouragement with a surgical mask and gloves on. He closely stood near Lucas Vásquez as the super sub from the Club’s academy moved swiftly through cones.
The video was less than two minutes. This was not a victory at home and it is still unconfirmed when the first competitive game will be played again. However, these images should bring happiness and hope to millions of Madridistas worldwide.
Of course no one should forget the invisible enemy continues to hover. As long as there is no approved remedy or vaccine, this dark cloud will remain indefinitely. In order to provide the best protection against Coronavirus, Real Madrid has implemented a strict protocol on the teams.
The first team will stay in their individual room of the Valdebebas residence before games. After each training session, players are to go straight to their rooms, remove their athletic gear and shower immediately for decontamination, and finally players may only leave the premises individually with the same vehicle they entered. Social distancing will be closely monitored and practiced by everyone inside the Merengue fortress.
La Liga has approved the Alfredo Di Stéfano field inside the complex to play the remaining season’s games. That field shares the same dimensions as the Santiago Bernabéu. Besides the remaining Liga home games, the Di Stéfano field will also host any future Champions League knockout games should the team eliminate Manchester City in the second leg of the round-of-16. A timetable for the return of Champions League is still up in the air.
Besides the return to work by the 13-time European champions, May 11 is also a special day for Madridismo. On that day 54 years ago, Real Madrid beat Partizan 2-1 to win its 6th European Cup in the first 10 years of the illustrious competition.
This famous Yeyé team showcased Spanish talent in the lineup, led by legendary veteran winger Francisco “Paco” Gento. This victory propelled him as the “Bill Russell” of European champions with six European Championships, which is one more than the only FIFA Super Ballon d’Or winner and fellow teammate Alfredo Di Stéfano.
So begins the first phase of this new era for sports. All prior routines and reckless habits have gone out the window. Health will become even more paramount once restrictions are relaxed and the level of competitive intensity increases. Real Madrid will now face two opponents before every game day: the opposing team, and COVID-19.
Nevertheless, the sight of the men in white taking the field once again was incredibly uplifting.