los secretos – the Eurocopa quarterfinal and semifinal
Some weekend reading before the big game as we go back to Los secretos! The fourth chapter talks about Luis Aragonés and how he made the Spanish team believe in themselves, while the fifth covers the 2008 Euro quarterfinal game against Italy. There’s not too many interesting things in these chapters, but I wanted to get through them before moving on to chapter six, which is very, very interesting!
Chapter four: “Si no ganamos la Eurocopa, soy un mal entrenador”
(If we don’t win the Eurocopa, I’m a bad coach.) In the words of Sergio Ramos, “before, we would go onto the field with the hope and desire to win, but we weren’t convinced that we could be champions. Now we are.” There’s a lot of talk about Luis’ methods, but the chapter is not too interesting if you’re looking for things about the players, which we are here, so I won’t go into too much detail. There are just a couple of anecdotes worth mentioning:
– Xabi Alonso, on Aragonés’ chats: “the truth is, he didn’t speak much about football. It was less of a chat and more like a comedy club monologue. We never stopped laughing.”
– Aragonés knew one time that his words had worked when he overheard a player say as he was leaving, “he’s a phenomenon, this son of a bitch.” According to Aragonés, it was from a player that you couldn’t imagine saying this, a player that almost never gets surprised, and the player didn’t know Aragonés had overheard him: Xabi Alonso.
– this was before the game against Russia in the semifinals of the Eurocopa. The players were so happy with the win that they ended picking up and tossing into the air the UEFA delegate responsible for taking two players to the mandatory drug tests after the game. Fernando Navarro says, “I think he ended up hitting the ceiling several times. If the king of Spain had been there that day, we would have done the same to him.”
Chapter five: El día que ganamos la Eurocopa
(The day that we won the Eurocopa.) The chapter deals with the quarterfinal match-up between Italy and Spain.
– when it became clear that the game would be decided by penalties, Ochotorena, the goalkeeping coach, went up to Iker and asked him if he knew what to do, since they had talked about this that morning. Iker said, “I’m going to go with whatever goes through my head. I’ll let my intuition lead me.”
– Villa asked Pepe for advice on how he should shoot the first penalty. Pepe told him “low and to the right.” That’s what Villa did and it went in.
– Cazorla had never taken a penalty in a game before this, although Luis didn’t know that. He had already made a decision about how he would shoot it, and would stick to that, despite asking Pepe for advice.
– Senna also knew how he would shoot his. “I was confident and calm” when he went to place the ball in position to shoot.
– Dani missed his, and said later, “It was the worst moment of my life by far. I cried.” Iker saw his reaction and told him, “Tranquilo Dani, I’m going to stop the next one.” And he did. Dani’s reaction? “I didn’t expect him to stop it, but Iker wasn’t joking… I was saved by a god named Casillas.”
– Cesc hadn’t taken a penalty in a game since he was a youth player. He says he knew this was the most important moment of his career, and told himself, “you have to show that you can do it, show it!” Cazorla told him, “I believe in you, stay calm!” Cesc also heard Iker say “stay calm!” but didn’t pay him any attention. Capdevila says, “if I had known in that moment that Cesc had never taken a penalty, I would have died. It’s better that I didn’t know…” Senna says, “the penalty was like an orgasm.”
– Capdevila says Dani kept on crying even after Cesc scored the penalty, and that there was no way to console him.
– Meanwhile, in the stands, Iker’s mother María del Carmen Fernández, who was watching the game with her husband José Luis, fainted from the pressure. Iker says that’s not the first this has happened: “I remember another final I played in 1995 against Barcelona where the same thing happened.”
– If there had been the need for a sixth penalty to be taken, that task would have fallen to Sergio Ramos. And after that, Iker would have taken one before Carlos Marchena.
Next up: Chapter six – “The cyber café of room 422.”