The concentración for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Finland and France began on Tuesday morning. Surprisingly, as the players began arriving, there were no major fashion failures (emphasis on the word “major” since some of the players, in the simple act of choosing their own clothes, commit fashion crimes).
I thought it would be nice ahead of tonight’s clásico (and all the craziness that can arise from these games) to take a look back at how Real Madrid and Barcelona players (and other teams’ players) worked together to achieve the greatest triumph in Spanish football history. So, here is the chapter from Más secretos about the 2010 World Cup final.
By the way, are Luca Villa and Luca Reina destined to be best friends, or are they destined to be best friends?
We continue with this walk down memory lane – I am really loving reliving the excitement and joy we felt during the World Cup, because when it was actually happening, it was too nerve-wracking and suspenseful! Today, we see how Spain successively beat Portugal, Paraguay and Germany to set up a final showdown with The Netherlands.
Here’s a bit more from Sergio Ramos’ biography, from the chapter “How they see him,” where many of Sergio’s current and former coaches and teammates, plus friends, wrote what they think about him. Here are the thoughts of some of the La Roja players and staff: Fernando Torres, Raúl Albiol, Vicente del Bosque, Jesús Navas and Albert Luque.
When Sergio and I began getting to know each other some time ago, I noticed that he had clear values and a frank personality, and that he was loyal to his ideas and would defend them in front of anyone. You could tell that at the age of 18, he already knew what he wanted. It wasn’t a matter of rebelling, it was a matter of principles. It bothers him when people have a wrong opinion of him, and that’s something I can relate to.
Sergio always tells you things to your face. He defends his ideas. He says everything that he’s thinking and he won’t let you twist his arm easily. He’s had problems with some coaches but not because he didn’t know what steps to take and who was in charge, which he knows clearly and is the first one to respect, but because he defends his ideas.
And we continue with the chapter “Champions of the World” in Más secretos de la Roja! In this excerpt, we find out what went on before and after the games against Switzerland, Honduras and Chile.
Switzerland (June 16, Moses Mabhida, Durban).
Spain and Switzerland were the last teams to play out of the 32. Spain used the same formula for the game. It had the ball and frequently got close to the rival goal. Arbeloa said, “I remember that 15 minutes into the game, I told Albiol that if we continued like this, no one could beat us. We were playing so well…” But the minutes passed and the goal didn’t come. In the 51st minute, Switzerland scored a goal. Casillas said, “the game could be summed up in that play. It was a real misfortune.” To make matters worse, Piqué suffered a cut above his eye and needed two stitches. Iniesta lost feeling in the back of his right thigh after receiving a blow and had to be taken out: “I was quite scared. I thought I had suffered something more serious than what I really had.”
So, with this chapter done, we are about halfway through the book, and I’m still not sure the point of the book is, since Silvia’s writing is very confusing. In this chapter, she goes off on multiple tangents, and covers many more things than the concentración. For example, on a section about spending time with Iniesta on the trip to Costa Rica, she speaks not only about that, but also Iraola’s wedding, shopping in the United States, team nicknames, playing bingo and inexplicably, Álvaro Arbeloa as a U-15 player with Aragón’s provincial team. She ends the chapter explaining how one of her nicknames came about (I don’t get it either). And the worst thing is, I haven’t learned anything new about the players or the team!
Chapter III: The concentración.
The residence: the Ciudad de Fútbol in Las Rozas is made up of various football fields, a gym, a press room, game rooms (pool, video games, library), restaurants and the residence. Some of the rooms in the residence are named after players such as Raúl, Fernando Hierro or Alfredo di Stéfano. Antonio Limones is responsible for assigning the rooms: “I do it based on relationships and not hierarchy. If Navas is called up, I give him a room near Ramos’ because I know they’re friends. It’s the same with Arbeloa and Albiol, or Iniesta and Valdés. The players always know which room they get. They take the elevator up, all of the rooms are open and the keys are on top of the bed.” This is how the routine always goes, no matter which hotel the team is staying at.
I don’t want the readers of this blog to feel left out after I posted on my other blog, so here are the first excerpts from La Roja Por Dentro, as promised! For those who enjoy good writing, I’m sorry to say that the writing in this book is as disjointed and jumbled as that of El Mundo en Nuestras Manos (despite Silvia having a Media Studies degree from La Complu, unlike Pepe), and there is also a lot of rambling going on. With that said, there are some great anecdotes from the point of view of “the other team,” so let’s start with those.
Chapters I and II: “Medals are for normal people” and “The other team.”
Anecdotes from “the other team.”
Raúl Martínez: during the Confederations Cup, we stayed at a hotel called the Kwa Maritane Bush Lodge. It had a watering hole connected to an observatory and also cameras so you could see the Big Five from the television sets in your room. We also went on a small safari, and we saw some animals – giraffes, zebras, rhinos – but we hadn’t seen elephants or lions, so we were a bit disappointed. That, combined with the cold, the loss to the United States and having to remain in South Africa to play for third and fourth place, made all of us anxious. One night, before the game to determine the third and fourth places, around two or three in the morning, I was chatting with Galán [Fernando Galán, another of the fisios]. In the background, we had the television connected to the watering hole on. We hadn’t seen many animals in the 48 hours that we had been here, but suddenly, in the middle of the conversation, I noticed the trees on the screen moving out of the corner of my eye. Then a mid-sized elephant appeared, followed by about 20 more. We began running rapidly towards the observatory and we could see others doing the same. When we got there, we saw about half of the team already sitting there, watching the scene silently and with amazement on their faces. The majority of them were in their pajamas. The rest of the players began filing in. I remember them saying things like “ostras, look at how many there are, at last, shhhhhh, silence!, sit there.” In the end, almost the entire team was there, united as always, finally able to see elephants.
Sadly there are no photos of the boys in their pajamas, but here is one from the previous safari…
This morning, Vicente del Bosque read out the list for Spain’s upcoming friendly against Puerto Rico in Bayamón on Aug. 15.
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Víctor Valdés.
Defenders: Álvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raúl Albiol, Gerard Piqué, Nacho Monreal, Juanfran Torres.
Midfielders: Xabi Alonso, Sergio Busquets, Santi Cazorla, Cesc Fàbregas, Andrés Iniesta, David Silva, Jesús Navas.
Forwards: Pedro Rodríguez, Fernando Llorente, Fernando Torres.
The team will meet up at 10h on Aug. 13 in Barajas’ T4; their flight is scheduled to depart for San Juan at 11h Madrid time, arriving at 13h local time. The Real Madrid players will join the team in Puerto Rico, as they are already in the United States. The team will stay at the Ritz Carlton San Juan, and return to Madrid on Aug. 15 at 20:30h local time, arriving back in Spain on the morning of Aug. 16.
¡Nos vemos en Puerto Rico! (Video here).