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 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 (!!!).
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!
Posted on March 29, 2011, in la rojita, players, team, training and tagged albiol, arbeloa, busquets, capdevila, cazorla, del bosque, iker, iniesta, javi, llorente, mata, pepe, piqué, sergio, silva, torres, villa, xabi. Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.