lots more reasons to love this team
A Marca headline in today’s edition said, “¿Estados Unidos o Estamos unidos?” (The United States, or we are united?). Judging from the past few days, I’d have to say both! And this picture below is proof – Iker posted this shot of him, David Villa, Fernando Llorente, Andoni Iraola and Pepe Reina on his FB, saying, “a game of pocha is never bad.” As Fernando Llorente said, “somos una piña.” I see Joan is continuing his strike, and why is Pepe wearing normal clothes?
Keep reading for all the news from yesterday…
The training session
The scene of the second and last training session of La Roja in the United States was Gillette Stadium, where they will play tonight. Hundreds of fans attended the session, decked out in La Roja wear, cheering on the team. The game will be at 22:41 Spanish time, or 16:41h local time.
During the session, VDB revealed the starting XI for the game: Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Piqué, Albiol, Capdevila, Bruno, Xabi, Cazorla, Silva, Villa and Llorente. The changes come with the inclusion of Albiol, in for Puyol, Bruno, in for Xavi, and Fernando Llorente, who takes the spot of Fernando Torres.
A little tribute to Sergio’s hair
The press conference
Iker Casillas and Andrés Iniesta spoke for 15 minutes to the media, who were once again insistent on asking questions about the relationships between the Madrid and Barcelona players. Both Iker and Andrés stressed there are no problems and that it hasn’t affected the team. Andrés stated, “we played those games over a month ago and I don’t think we have to talk about what happened the entire week.” He added, “the group has shown that the secret of its success is the union between players. We will do our part to continue along those lines. The past is the past. Football doesn’t live on memories and now we’re doing something else.” Meanwhile, Iker was blunt, saying that there wasn’t even the need for the players to talk with each other, and that it’s time to move on. He also denied that this tour is meaningless: “we’re proud to have come because it’s a privilege. These games are good to unite the group.”
Iker was also asked his thoughts on American forward Juan Agudelo, and the journalist had to repeat that name about three times before Iker understood who he was talking about. Iker kept saying, Juan? He said they had watched film about the American players yesterday, and today they’ll learn more, so I think he didn’t know anything about Juan Agudelo.
And in response to a question about whether this past year has been better for him than the previous one, part of Andrés’ response was “on the personal level, I’m very happy because I had a girl.” Sweet Iniesta!
Meanwhile, one journalist asked for “permission” from Paloma before asking a club-related question, because she had told journalists on Thursday to stay on the topic of the national team. And another journalist, speaking American-accented Spanish, asked about the manifestations in Spain protesting the economic crisis and high unemployment rate (the M-15 movement, or Real Democracy Now), and was refused a response.
Unfortunately, neither Iker nor Andrés spoke English during the press conference, though they were asked some questions in English (which were translated for them). Perhaps that was because Iker didn’t have a computer or phone with access to Google translate in front of him!
I hadn’t heard of these awards before, but it’s a good move on the part of the United States Sports Academy, because they were graced with the presence of Iker, David Villa and VDB! The university’s male sports team of the year award (for 2010) went to La Roja, and the best athlete award went to David Villa (online voting was used to determine the winners). The presentation of the awards took in Gillette Stadium’s press room after the training session.
David said of the honor, “I’m proud of it, and I want to share it with my teammates, since football is a team sport.” Iker, in the name of the entire team, stated, “we’re happy to receive this distinction, we have great coaches and exemplary players.”
VDB at Harvard
Vicente del Bosque, accompanied by Ángel Villar and Fernando Hierro, spoke at Harvard University’s Real Colegio Complutense campus on Friday morning.
His statement: “if we’re here, it’s because we’re the champions of the world, but we didn’t get there by coincidence. The installations have really improved in our country. Before, those of us who were coaches traveled to other countries to see what was there. Now, others are coming to see how we work. We were able to create a strong base. We’re in a continuous progression. We’ve opened our doors and we can’t rest on our laurels. We have to work to get better each day and for everyone to feel proud of our football, to believe we are worthy representatives of our country. Our country is lucky to have such a marvelous generation, one that plays well, in addition to being likable and good.”
VDB – the best ever?
If Spain wins this game and the next one against Venezuela, VDB will become the winningest coach in Spanish national team history. Luis Aragonés is the current record holder, with 38 wins (in 54 games, for a winning percentage of 70.3%). VDB’s current record is 37 wins (in 42 games, for an astounding 88.09% winning record). And if that percentage is not high enough, consider his 92.59% winning record in official games (meaning those horrible friendlies aren’t counted). VDB’s only losses are those two against the United States in the 2009 Confecup and against Switzerland in the World Cup, giving him a 25-2 record. The team has an goal average of 2.29 in these 27 games (62 goals scored).
A little game preview
Both the site and the opponent in today’s game have a bit of morbo for Spain.
A lot of players have it has their first memory of a World Cup, Iker said he cried after seeing it, Fernando Llorente did as well. It’s the national team moment that David Villa, David Silva, Juan Mata remember the best, it’s what Gerard Piqué and Carlos Marchena thought of when asked about Spain in the World Cup, while Javi (!!!) was too young to really remember it, though he did have an inkling.
What is that moment? If you’ve been following La Roja for a while, or even this blog, you’ll know that this moment refers to that elbow by Tassotti to the nose of Luis Enrique. It was July 9, 1994, the quarterfinals of the World Cup. Spain was playing Italy in Foxborough, Massachusetts at Foxboro Stadium (which was demolished eight years later). Tassotti elbowed Luis Enrique, breaking his nose and causing him to bleed all over his white jersey (that’s why there’s a stigma attached to the white jersey and why Spain prefers wearing other colors), and got away scot free. That meant that Spain did not get a penalty and a chance to equalize the game, which was 1-2 against them at that point.
There are still a few holdovers from that 1994 team. Fernando Hierro was a player back then, and now is the soon to be former sporting director. Ángel Villar was the RFEF president, and still is now. And fisio Miguel Gutiérrez had the same role 17 years ago.
Spain has never played a friendly in the U.S., and all previous games on U.S. soil took place during that 1994 World Cup.
As for the opponent, the U.S. of course beat Spain in the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinals, despite Spain being the favorite of the tournament, having racked up impressive wins on their way to the semis. The Americans won 2-0, ending Spain’s 35-game non-losing streak. This was also the U.S.’ first win ever over Spain, after losing all three of the previous games (a 1950 World Cup game and two friendlies).
Manu & Borja
We’ll get to see Borja Valero and Manu del Moral’s debuts with la selección during this summer tour, because Vicente del Bosque intends to play all 23 of the players he called up. The first one to jog onto the field will be the 720th Spaniard to wear the shirt of the national team (the team played their first game on Aug. 28, 1920 against Denmark). Seventeen players have debuted at the hands of VDB, the last one being Aritz Aduriz on Oct. 8 vs. Lithuania.
Borja was also called up for that game, as well as the one four days later, but he didn’t get to debut: “imagine the desire I have to play after not being able to play last time.” Meanwhile, Manu has to pinch himself to make sure this is not a dream: “it’s like a dream, the experience is fantastic. What will I do if I score? I don’t even dare think about it!”
Neither of the boys have had trouble adapting to the team, as Borja Valero has his four Villarreal teammates, as well as the two Álvaros (Arbeloa and Negredo), as they coincided in the cantera of Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Manu has the support of Andrés Iniesta, with whom he is spending a lot of his free time, as they were teammates during the U-20 World Cup in 2003. Manu received 246 congratulatory messages once his name was announced by VDB.
A little tribute to Pepe & Joan
From Marca: they’ve never worn the captain’s armband and they probably never well. However, their role in the locker room has earned them a couple of stripes. Pepe and Joan are two of the players around which this spirit, which has made the national team into more than a team, has formed. The two of them are now here to remedy the bad taste left by the clásicos. Reina has been the common denominator for players that were out of tune before, helping to change the situation. Capdevila’s role is less well-known. “He’s a phenomenon,” says VDB. Toni Grande affirms, “he’s not one of the captains, but his role in the group is very important.” With his ever-present smile, Joan has never hidden the fact that he feels privileged to play with this team: “what more could I ask for? I’m here to enjoy every second, no one had gifted me anything.” He speaks and jokes with everyone, from the players to the doctors to anyone he runs into.
The boys posted a lot of photos yesterday! First up, we have Sergio making the “v” sign while wearing a personalized cap. You think he got that done at a mall kiosk or something? Then Joan tweeted a photo of him and Iker, which is very similar to the one that Iker posted yesterday, except in this one, you can unfortunately see that their hands are positioned with the thumbs up. And Iker also posted this adorable photo of him and Santi, saying, “what a great guy you are, Cazorlita! There are very few people like you in football!”
Meanwhile, David Villa and Fernando Llorente posted these pictures on their Facebooks. I find it hilarious that the players in the back had to stand on risers in order to be seen, except the tall Fernando Llorente, especially because they’re not short: Manu is 1.85m, Álvaro is 1.86m, Bruno is 1.79m and Borja is 1.76m.
Random picture of Fernando Torres
As you can see, Fernando did some shopping during his free time, buying something at – sigh – A&F. But it’s cute how pleased he looks! Before the Fernando Torres fan brigade finds issue with me, I’d just like to say that I’ve criticized other players plenty of times in the past for wearing things from this brand, so I’m not picking on Fernando. I wonder who the next player I’m going to be criticized for picking on will be?
It appears that the Basque contingent of the U-21 team spent the morning playing video games, judging by some of the tweets. Javi (!!!) tweeted this picture of him watching the “Navarran derby” in room 206 between Iker Muniain and César Azpilicueta. Javi (!!!) looks pretty relaxed, no?
We then found out via Iker’s tweet that he won the first game 4-1, and “Azpi” won the second game 3-0. They had to stop because it was time to train.
Meanwhile, Ander took on Mikel San José, and “Sanjo” wiped the floor with him (6-2). Ander tweeted, “I have to say that Mikel San José steamrolled me, I’ll have to stop playing FIFA… I’m demoralized!”
So now, the two winners, apparently Iker and Mikel, will play each other! But how come Javi (!!!) didn’t take part, aside from being a spectator?
Meanwhile, Isco Alarcón continues with the hilarious tweets. As reader Jennifer mentioned in a comment yesterday, his first tweet said, “I want to tell you all that Álex Fernández is so lazy that he gets up two hours early to have more time to do nothing.” Then he went on to say, “we spent the afternoon playing mini-golf, what a wreck, I needed 875 strokes for each hole and Álex needed 876.” And finally, “we’ve already back after the team dinner, and now I’m in the room with the sexiest redhead in Switzerland.”
And to finish, a cute video of MFC. He might become your favorite canterano after you watch this video, even if Madrid is not your team.
Hello, I’m Álvaro Morata, and I play as a forward with Real Madrid Castilla (notice how his eyes go in all directions – adorable!).
Why football? Because I thought I was good at it since the time I was a kid.
If you weren’t a footballer, you’d be… I would have followed my father’s footsteps, he’s in advertising.
Where did you start playing? I started in the Prado school, and then with Atlético.
Who encouraged you to be a footballer? My father.
Have you always played the same position? No, I used to be a defender.
What is the thing that has surprised you the most in the world of football? The positive thing would be all the people who watch you and the negative, the criticism and having to learn how to accept them.
Which coach has taught you the most? Alberto Toril.
An idol: Raúl?
What style do you like? Tiki-taka.
How would you describe yourself? A hard worker and very ambitious.
Where would you like to get to? I would like to play with Real Madrid.
Your dream photograph: With a Champions League trophy or with the World Cup.
Cristiano Ronaldo: he’s number one.
Messi: another number one.
Sergio Ramos: he’ll be the captain of Real Madrid for many years.
Other hobbies? All sports involving a racket and watching movies.
Twitter or Facebook? I have both, and I think they’re good for spreading good news.
Would you like to play in the Liga? I hope so, I would like to, because it’s the best league in the world with the best players.
Posted on June 4, 2011, in la rojita, players, team, training and tagged borja valero, capdevila, cazorla, del bosque, del moral, iker, iniesta, iraola, javi, llorente, morata, pepe, sergio, torres, villa. Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.