in case you missed it – Spain vs. the Czech Republic
In case you missed it – Spain vs. the Czech Republic [2011-03-25, Euro 2012 qualifying, 2-1].
On Friday night in Granada, the focus was on Xavi, for his 100 games with the Spanish national team, and David Villa, to see if he would break Raúl’s goalscoring record. Both came through as Spain made a comeback to beat the Czech Republic 2-1. Villa’s two goals were his 45th and 46th with the national team, pushing him past Raúl for first place on Spain’s all time top goalscorers list.
ONE. As most of you know, my favorite moments come before the game – I love watching the players warm-up, and during the himno – and after the game – I love watching the players stripping and exchanging shirts. So let’s start with that. What a penetrating stare from Iker, and Xabi’s the best at those hip circles, no? But that’s not surprising, is it? The close-ups of Sergio and Piqué are also delicious.
TWO. The boys during the national anthem. I was disappointed that Joan didn’t play with anyone’s ears, but maybe he reserves that for friendlies, since this was an important game. It was strange not to see Sergio next to Iker, because that’s how they usually stand.
And what a quality banquillo we have, no? The four players cut at the last minute to reduce to squad to the allowed 18 for the game were Raúl Albiol, Víctor Valdés, Juan Mata and Javi (!!!) Martínez, so that’s why we didn’t see them on the bench Friday night. Poor me.
THREE. More shots of the bench. I like how Fernando Llorente found his water bottle more interesting than the game and how Santi is biting his nails.
FOUR. David Villa dedicated his first goal to “all the coaches and everyone, but especially Pepe Reina, since I already told him I would dedicate this goal to him.” Meanwhile, Pepe’s reaction was “the hug after the goal means a lot to me. David is like a brother to me, and I thank him for remembering me during this important goal, which made him the maximum goalscorer in the country’s history.” I love how David literally flew at Pepe!
The second goal came off a penalty, and there was sort of a manpile to celebrate it.
FIVE. Look at this statistic regarding passing. It is what Spain is famous for. What a discrepancy between the two teams!
SIX. Two moments that I liked – Iker adjusting his glove (well, any moment that involves Iker, I like), and David Villa being affectionate with a ball boy.
SEVEN. Fernando Torres was extremely preoccupied with his hair on Friday night, especially on his right side. It started from the time he was on the bench, and continued until he was in the game.
He wasn’t the only one – Iker and Joan also fiddled around with their hair.
And speaking of hair, Piqué has so much it almost looks like he’s wearing a Trojan helmet!
EIGHT. Our boys are really good at pointing and gesturing, aren’t they? The thumbs-up pose just comes so naturally to Sergio; I bet he even does it in his sleep.
NINE. Back to my favorite moments. David Villa received hugs from everyone congratulating him for breaking Raúl’s record. First Xavi makes David look tall, but then Fernando Llorente comes along and Villa’s a bajito once more.
The Czech players were getting topless left and right; too bad the same couldn’t be said for Spain. The closest we got was Iker, who removed his shirt to reveal… another layer. Sigh. At least this time he remembered to remove the captain’s armband first, so that it didn’t get left behind on the field. Isn’t it funny how this year, the colors of his club and country jerseys are just about the same?
And just as I was losing hope, along comes David Villa, having exchanged his shirt inside the tunnel. And he wasn’t wearing anything underneath! But unfortunately I guess the team decided it was not a good idea for him to be interviewed topless, so they gave him a jacket, which David didn’t zip all the way to the top, thankfully. And that is a huge smile from our David.
This is what the two of them had to say. Xavi, in response to his centennial, said that “I’m very happy, the game was complicated, because we didn’t expect their goal. I’m happy with my 100th game. And I congratulate Villa for his goals. I’m especially happy for him, because he hadn’t scored for a while.” Villa congratulated Xavi “not only for his 100 games, but for how he is. He’s a better person than he is a footballer, and that says a lot.”
TEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
It doesn’t matter what the situation is, Xabi has a pose. Teammate down? Yes. Goal against? Yes. Yellow card? Yes. Goal for? Yes.
But when his face is as adorable as this, who can blame him?
Xabi provided the first black – or yellow – mark on Spain’s perfectly clean disciplinary sheet by receiving the team’s first yellow card of the qualification round in the 38th minute. It was also the first card that Spain has received since the World Cup final.
ELEVEN. After the game, VDB said the keys to the victory were the “patience, experience, personality and quality of the players,” and added that “we’re happy because we managed to extract ourselves from a very complicated situation.”
TWELVE. Other game notes:
At the game were Emilio Butragueño, Fernando Hierro and team delegates Pedro Cortés and Luis Uranga. Juan Mata’s father also attended the game.
There was no anti-drug testing after the game, since UEFA didn’t send any of their delegates.
After the game, which ended at midnight, the substitutes (Silva, Llorente, Pepe, Iraola) those ruled out for the game (Valdés, Javi (!!!), Mata, Albiol) and the players who didn’t play many minutes (Cazorla, Marchena) held a training session in the Nuevo Los Cármenes until 0:55. The session consisted of stretching, a warm-up and a mini-game. The team did not leave the stadium until 01:40 in the morning.
THIRTEEN. Tweets and pictures.
Cesc congratulated Villa for his new record.
Meanwhile, there was a thumbs-up explosion in the locker room. Sergio tweeted this photo of him and Villa, while Villa posted on his FV this picture of him and Pepe, who doesn’t let his gloves hold him back from that overused pose.
David continued posing this way with Xavi, but luckily Xavi had more sense. And all three of them looked very happy on the bus back to the hotel.
There’s been a lot of talk about the problems of racism in Spain, and this tweet from Joan DOES NOT help matters. Maybe it’s not only the fans that need some education, no? And it’s a pity that Carles Puyol responded to it.
FOURTEEN. The players had most of the day off on Sunday. They flew back to Madrid, arriving around noon, but were cited to be at Las Rozas once again at nine in the evening. Mata spent the day watching the movie Torrente IV, in which his teammates Arbeloa, Sergio and Cesc appear.
At the airport, Pepe struggled with his suitcase, jacket, messenger bag and a plastic bag from El Corte Inglés as he got off the plane, while Iker had it easy with just one LV travel bag. Yay, no purse!
The team will train this morning behind closed doors in the Ciudad de Fútbol, have lunch and then travel to Lithuania at 16h on IB-2862 with destination Kaunas. It’s still unknown where the game against Lithuania on Tuesday will be played, because the field where the game is scheduled is in bad conditions. VDB said that Paco Jiménez is already over there checking things out, and that the team will do whatever UEFA decides, having asked a delegate to examine the field.
FIFTEEN. The first U-21 team is already in Madrid, preparing for tomorrow’s game against Belarus in Alcalá de Henares. They met at the Hotel Tryp Alameda Aeropuerto on Saturday night (with the exception of players from Barcelona B and Las Palmas, who had games but will join the team today) and will have a training session this afternoon at 19h.
How cute are they? And once again, why don’t the senior players ever get photographed in moments like these?