all set for Lithuania!

Spain plays their last official game together until September (sigh…) tonight against Lithuania (20:45) in Kaunas.  Yesterday, the team had a training session at Kaunas Arena, a play on words since “arena” fittingly enough means “sand” in Spanish!

(Above left) I’m including this for Javi (!!!), so just ignore what David is doing… (Below, right side) I want to go to there.  In case you don’t know, that is Iker’s leg sticking out there right under Javi (!!!).

The “beach”

The big focus coming into tonight’s qualifier between Spain and Lithuania was of course the state of the field at the “Kaunas Arena.” On Sunday, Andrés had said it reminded him of the dirt fields he played on as a kid, which Capdevila echoed saying, “playing on this field is like returning to your childhood,” and Santi Cazorla stated, “I haven’t played on a field like this since the cadete level.”

Yesterday Xabi remarked, “it’s like playing on La Concha beach” which is of course where he started.  Iker made clear, “it’s like one of those horrible fields in the third division such as Puerta Bonita” and Marchena was blunt: “this field is a ruin.”  When asked about the field, Pepe said, “we’ve seen worse, but not many,” and Raúl Albiol added, “it’s worse than the field in my hometown.”  And both Sergio Busquets and Álvaro Arbeloa called it a “sandy beach,” the latter via twitter.

He also tweeted this, saying we have all the equipment needed for tomorrow!  Love it!

Toni Grande, Javier Miñano and José Manuel Ochotorena inspected the field in the morning, and their conclusion was “a lot of sand and not much grass.”  However, UEFA’s decision was that “there’s no risk of injury” and so they gave their green light for the game.  The final decision will be made by the referee several hours before the game today.  And he decided this morning that the field is suitable for the game.

The press conferences

In the player press conference, the field was also the main topic.  Sergio seemed resigned to the fact that Spain will have to play there, saying, “we all remember how we started, playing on complicated fields.  No one’s going to die while playing on a field like this, but we hope there won’t be any injuries and that the game can be played.”  David Villa’s take was “if the referee says we’re going to play, we’re going to play a game on this field.  You have to adapt to the situation and try to focus on other virtues that we have, and win.”

When asked how he feels being the “best forward in the history of the national team,” David replied, “I don’t know if I’m the best, but I am the one with the most goals, which is what the data say.  The majority of the goals helped the team to advance, and I hope to score many more.  I hope tomorrow will be a good day, that we will win and I can score.  The more goals I score, the more benefits the team will receive.”

VDB said of the field, “we have to try and be positive and adapt to the conditions.  But it’s not good for us nor for them.”  And with regards to the starting line-up, he confirmed that he will be making some changes tonight: “we will make some, yes.  We have a deep squad, and that allows us to make changes.”

The training session

These boys always make training look like so much fun, no?  It’s more like they’re a group of good friends just hanging out and getting some exercise at the same time than professional footballers preparing for a game.  I wonder if anyone actually fell over in the exercise on the right?  It reminds me of when they played trust games.

Based on the training session, it looks like Iraola, Albiol, Javi (!!!!!!!!!!)*, Cazorla and Fernando Llorente may start the game (meaning that Iniesta, Sergio, Navas, Capdevila and Busi will take a seat.  Busi would play, but he suffered a blow to his calf in the last game).   If Sergio plays, it will be his 75th cap – and he’s one day away from turning 25!  I can’t wait to see the “Javi” midfield – Xavi, Xabi and Javi!!  And Álvaro Arbeloa and Xabi Alonso need to be careful, because if they receive a card today, they will be suspended for the next match against Liechtenstein in September.  Given that the team is in pretty good shape and that Liechtenstein is not a powerhouse, maybe they’ll be seeking cards?

* I’m excited to see him play, okay?

The players also had a good time in the rondos, where shoving each other was apparently more important than getting the ball.

With the majority of the players wearing hats (how come there weren’t enough hats and gloves for everyone to have matching ones?), I had to take two glances to recognize some of them.  And the last picture is there to show how brave some (!!!) are, as this particular player (!!!) wore shorts and no hat.  What a great angle, no?  And those legs (!!!).

La Rojita

Back in Spain, the U-21 team could only manage a 1-1 tie with Belarus in yesterday’s friendly in Alcalá de Henares.  Dani Parejo scored for La Rojita after converting a free kick, and Bojan was injured.

The consolation for us fans was Iker Muniain teasing his teammates via twitter before the game.  I love how Ander tweeted, “I don’t know why I’m talking to you here [on twitter] when you’re sitting to my left!”  These boys are adorable!  Again, I will reiterate my wish that Ander and Iker will make Javitxu (!!!) more active on twitter.

More from Sunday

More scenes from the arrival in Kaunas on Sunday.  On the left, we have my dream come true.  On the right, very typical behavior from these particular boys (Xabi reading, Sergio looking a bit confused, David scowling and just generally being David Villa).

Again, another picture included just because Javi (!!!) is in it, and a shot of Álvaro in his glasses, as mentioned yesterday, sitting next to his inseparable twin.

A win and no injuries are my two wishes for tonight!

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Posted on March 29, 2011, in la rojita, players, team, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. The boys are so cute!! And yes, it’s like a sandy beach, but unfortunately a very cold one… a winter beach… otherwise their legs would be less covered ;) (by the way, Javi’s legs are really hot;)

    I’m glad that your beloved Javi will play, hope he does very well and scores, or at least helps Llorente to score one of his llorentazos (and I feel there will be some, if he starts playing…;)

  2. Oooo… Javi and Iker in one frame! Early or late birthday present for you Una?
    And what wouldn’t one give to be part of a Iker/Villa/Javi sandwich???

    Vamos La Roja! Win and yes, no injuries pleeeasse!

  3. Thank you very much Una for this post and all the previous ones!! Your recent posts are all so interesting i love it..As usual!! :-) How can the UEFA approve such pitch??

  4. Here’s to a win and no injuries!

    Man, I wish I was part of that manpile. Villa being scowly, or just being himself. Ha ha. But I like how humble he is regarding his goals even if he is scowly.

    BTW, when you say that not being together until September, do you mean for an official game as opposed to a friendly? Because I’m hoping to see them in the US (keeping fingers crossed that all my favorites appear and are not on vacation or not called up depending on the La Liga strike)

  5. Regarding their comments about the sand and Villa’s comments about his goals–for those of us who live in the States, do the Spanish athletes seem much more humble and human than American athletes? I know we have some wonderful athletes State-side but La Roja players are really the best.

    • Yes, they are far more humble than American athletes. American athletes used to be very humble, but then the money got really good and some of the athletes became greedy, with the help of their agents.

    • LaAmericanista

      Hi Andrea, I live in the states too and I can see a HUGE difference but not just with American athletes, many Mexican athletes weird. Some are so nice and humble like Messi… I’m Mexican so I follow Mexican sports specially football. There’s a boxer who is so sweet it reminds me of how shy Messi gets when he gets attention. But sadly, I kind of wish more athletes were sweet and humble like the guys in this team…

    • i agree! have thought about that too. wondering if partly to do with their youth training.

  6. Xavi is one of the brave wearing shorts! *Bliss* They are not so far from me right now, and here in Stockholm it is snowing.

    And Una, it’s hard to ignore what David is doing in that first clip, Javi or no Javi ;).

    Everybody’s saying how the pitch reminds them of their childhood days. Perhaps that’s why they are playing around so much. They are all so adorable! But it always hurt me a little bit when kids don’t get autographs, but I understand that sometimes it’s just not the right time.

  7. That field is a complete (Drogba-style) disgrace! I CANNOT believe they actually expect elite-level players to play on that surface. We are in the most important part of the league season, and if any of the players get injured it could mess up the whole season for their teams.

  8. I would love to know what Silva has done to Del Bosque. He is pushed out of the line-up for no reason and now he is the only sub that doesn’t seem to be getting a start today. Hopefully he does get some playing time.

  9. That field looks as bad as some of the ones at the World Cup, which looked like nesting sites for gophers. love David Villa’s take on it, he’s such a humble badass. :) And HILARIOUS gif of Xabi/Sergio/Angry Villa!

    Loving the Ramos/Torres times, brings back memories of their bromance…. Thanks for the post, Una!

  10. LaAmericanista

    Looooooooooove your gifs…. the one of David Villa shutting his little window was the winner this time :) His facial expressions are the best…. Did anyone else feel bad for that fan when Torres said no to the autograph? I mean come on, you were just walking Torres…. but I do understand, he stops for one and the rest even though they weren’t asking for one of him will not let him leave…

  11. i’m excited for this match up. i’d love to see a change up in the line up with Iraola, Albiol, Javi (!!!!!!!!!!), Cazorla and Llorente ( keeping the !!! on Javi for una, they come so naturally to see with now)

    Also excited to see the Xavi, Xabi, Javi!! midfield.

    Love the comment that the guys might be playing around more than usual during training because the pitch might just naturally bring back childhood playing. especially love how the rough housing during training makes VDB smile.

    where do this great behind the scenes shots come from? Spanish TV coverage? They’re just great.

  12. AHHH!!!! I seriously loooove every single thing about this post!!! ♥♥♥
    The first GIF of Javi and David is just too distracting! my first reaction was like WHOA DAVIIID!!! o_O.
    Felt bad for those who tried to get Nando and Sergio’s autograph but it’s totally understandable why they refused. Oh well…
    I see the field is worse than I expected! But good to see the boys playing and horsing around like a bunch of kids! it’s always a wonderful treat!!!! :D
    Arbolea’s tweet with that tweetpic cracked me up! I liked him before but now i think i officially LOVE him because of that!
    And VDB! Gosh, I love that pic of him! Seriously, he’s like a BIG huggable teddy bear!!!!!
    Argh,I could go on and on about this post and our boys! Just cant get enough of them!!! And It seems like years til their next match, I miss them already :(
    Anyway, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS! Looking forward to the next post with all the juicy tidbits and pics/gifs from the match :D

  13. reggaeballgirl

    Love the attitude of the guys. The pitch was horrible but they still were laughing and joking around. It is hard not to adore their humility. Some athletes would have shown their inner divas in this situation … not our boys. God bless them, and you Una!

  14. Is Xavi pronounced as Javi (with J sounded out) in Spanish? I thought Javi was pronounced as Havi in Spanish?

  15. Well Una, I am going to have to get a little tent and just camp out in your blog during any International breaks! You have just been wonderful for us.

    As always, so much cuteness! Happy to see Sernando at it again, I wonder if they will all have a little birthday party?

    I love Xabi in his Hat & reading & scowly & grabby David!

    The match is over, I’m late so it was wonderful to see our Basques all playing today!

    The iker gif & manpile! *sigh* yes what a dream.

    In a reference to your other blog, I would say that pitch was worse than a potato field & no a match at this level should be played in these field conditions.

    All in all, lovely!

  16. Lovely, our boys played well in the sand no?

  17. In that “dream come true” picture, I love how Iker even turns to give us a full view of his profile. Dream come true, indeed!

    And that manpile! They can use that as part of the tourism campaign for Spain!

    I wonder what that falling backwards exercise is for, though? I’ve never seen anything like it. And it looks a little risky to me, too, since someone could fall and injure himself. Of course, I am horribly uncoordinated, so it could be just me.

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