Spain takes on Italy tonight in a friendly at the Vicente Calderón (Madrid) at 22h. There are several things of note about this game. It is the last time La Roja is together before the concentración for the World Cup begins on May 26, the game will serve as a tribute to the late and great Luis Aragonés and as the stage for the debut of the new black jerseys, and of course this will be the first time we see Diego Costa in the shirt of Spain. All eyes have been on him the entire week, although I have to admit mine were focused on Azpi’s dimples instead!
Vicente del Bosque has revealed the list for the upcoming friendly against Italy on March 5 in the Vicente Calderón (Madrid). This is the last time La Roja will get together before the concentración for the World Cup begins on May 26. The list was announced at the headquarters of the AFE (the Association of Spanish Footballers; Iker Casillas, David Villa, Gerard Piqué and Carlos Marchena are current vice presidents), as the game will benefit the association.
The schedule for Spain’s qualifiers for Euro 2016 has been released. Spain has been drawn in Group C alongside Ukraine, Slovakia, Belarus, Macedonia and Luxembourg. Here are the dates and times of the games.
Spain’s away kit for the upcoming World Cup was unveiled several days ago. For the first time in the country’s history, Spain will wear all black, although there are fluorescent neon green (called “electricity”) trim and details to bring a bit of color. The new kit will be worn for the first time on March 5, when Spain takes on Italy in a friendly in Madrid.
Javi Martínez is the cover story of the February issue of magazine Minuto 116. The interview with him is quite amusing, especially when the talk shifts to those famous “ratones,” video game tournaments and the fate of his World Cup medal. There are also a piece written by his brother Álvaro – complete with childhood photos! – and a farewell letter from Javi to Luis Aragonés.
Managing to avoid the new player hazing ritual of singing in front of the entire Bayern team is a sign of genius, no?
Yes, when new players arrive or are promoted from the youth team, they normally have to sing, well make a speech and sing. But since I could not speak German, I told them I couldn’t because I didn’t know how to say anything (laughs). I got out of it and didn’t have to do it.
Gerard Piqué was recently interviewed by Jot Down magazine (the favorite of Xabi Alonso), and the result was quite interesting. Here is the translation (I’ve left out the parts where he speaks about his club, so if you’re interested in them, you can read the original interview).
Gerard Piqué says, “I’m always optimist, positive. Shaki, on the other hand, sometimes believes that since we’re so happy, something bad is going to happen. I simply don’t see it in that way.” He’s a bit worried about his mother, since she has been experiencing back pains recently. He’s very close to his family. He has the same friends as he did when he was a kid, and he goes on a trip with them once a year. He pays, since he can. He likes to tell the story about how his grandmother Lina had no idea who Shakira was when he introduced her. He laughs loudly, with his mouth wide open. He fiddles with his hair and he readjusts it when photos are taken. He uses that weary tone footballers have when they’re asked about something that bores them and he tries to put on the autopilot, he conceals what he has to and he measures his words, although he appears to be relaxed. He does what he wants and says what he wants. For the moment, it has worked for him. He’s Gerard Piqué. A happy guy.
Do you always get what you want?
Right now, yes.
Newspapers are reporting that the RFEF has chosen Washington D.C. as Spain’s base of operations to prepare for the World Cup, with the team scheduled to arrive at the beginning of June.
Prior to that, the team will begin its concentración on May 26 (except those whose teams reach the Champions League final on May 24; they’ll have a week of vacation and join the team on the day it leaves for the U.S.) in Madrid. On May 30, La Roja will play a friendly against Bolivia at the Sánchez-Pizjuán in Sevilla. The players will then get the weekend off before regrouping and flying to Washington on June 2. There, they will train at the Catholic University of America and play a friendly on June 7. Potential opponents include Canada, Bolivia (both have Spanish coaches) and Panama.
As for Brazil, Spain’s headquarters will be in Curitiba. The team will arrive on June 8 and prepare for its games at the training grounds of local team Atlético Paranaense. Spain’s first game is on June 13 against the Netherlands in Salvador. This will be followed by the Spain-Chile match-up on June 18 in Rio de Janeiro. The team will close out the group stage by facing Australia on June 23 in Curitiba.
UPDATE: Spain will play against El Salvador on June 7 at FedEx Field (Washington, D.C.).
Unsurprisingly, the tributes are pouring in for Luis Aragónes. Here, I’ve translated pieces written by Fernando Torres, Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernández, plus interviews with Álvaro Arbeloa and Pepe Reina, as well as a sampling of messages via Twitter from Luis’ players. There’s also a piece written by Luis himself, where he reflects on the Eurocopa. DEP Míster (y tal).
Luis Aragónes. 1938-2014.