Gallery: JOE goes to Real Madrid's training ground to see Ronaldo, Bale and all the lads in action
One of the world's biggest clubs boasts one of the world's best training facilities
As you approach the newest terminal of Madrid's Adólfo Suárez Barajas airport, along the M40 motorway, and happen to cast a glance to your left, you'll see a large glass dome that is planned to be the new Palacio de Justicia of Valdebebas, you can hardly miss it. If your gaze isn't too rapt by the awkward looking building that is surrounded by a construction site, then cast your eyes a little bit further back, where you will see floodlights, pitches, and a stadium; the Estadio Alfredo di Stéfano, where Real Madrid have their training facilities, some of the best in the world.
This past weekend, JOE got the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the amazing Valdebebas grounds, to attend a pre-match press conference and then be joined by Cristiano Ronaldo for his announcement that he would be the newest Global Ambassador for Emirates. We also took in a match from some VIP seats, but more about that anon.
The facilities themselves are jaw dropping, and when they say that players are given every advantage imaginable to help them succeed in one club or another, but here at Real Madrid is truly a living example of that. Six training pitches (one located slightly lower than the others so they can escape the wind) and one of the most advanced facilities in the world for tracking players' movements, gait and fitness to prevent injury, Valdebebas is more than a training ground, it is a statement.
It embodies what has made Madrid so famous around the world: a sense of excellence, a desire to have only the best, and a culture that understands what it takes to breed winners.
The Valdebebas grounds also house living facilities for the most promising young players from outside Madrid from the age of eight-years-old, with the best progressing through the academy and, if all goes to plan, into the first team. This structure is also reflected in the layout of the training pitches, with the youngest players starting on the pitch that is quite literally the lowest, and each time they progress they move to the next pitch which is slightly above that. They are always looking up, looking to advance.
JOE was on hand to visit the grounds as part of a trip where Cristiano Ronaldo (possibly the most galactico of the galacticos) was announced as the new Global Ambassador for Emirates, where the latest ad featuring him and another of the all-time greats, Pelé
We also got to attend a match, and witness the majesty of the Santiago Bernabeu first-hand as Real Madrid beat Rayo Vallecano 5-0, with Ronaldo starting off the scoring with a well taken goal. Gareth Bale contributed with two, and Xabi Alonso dictated play from the middle of the park, with absolute assurance and confidence.
The real test will come this week in the Champions League, as Madrid try to stay in the title race and fight on several fronts, but having seen the way that they have prepared for the challenge, there is no obstacle that should frighten this team of superstars.