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!

USSA awards

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.

Social networking

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?

La Rojita

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 31 Comments.

  1. Thanks una!! I’m in Providence and still seems like the best up to date La Roja news comes from you! Siempre!

  2. LOL what I wouldn’t give to be in that A&F shop when FERNANDO TORRES comes walking by and buying up the store, dressed in the glaringly obvious NT kit. How the hell can they not even turn around and stare? It blows the mind!!!

    I love your sarcasm about his teenager outfits, Una, and I absolutely love Nando! Mentions of him in your posts always make my day! So feel free to bash his choice in clothes brands- I’m just happy you poke fun at him, so he’ll be in the posts. It’s just hilarious!!

    • Just thought I would point out that some girl tweeted about selling some Spain NT guys underwear at A&F… and I thought to myself, “What I wouldn’t give to be this chick if Fernando Torres was a buyer.” Sure enough….

      Can’t find her tweet anymore… was probably deleted over fan harassment, haha.

  3. OOOh, the picture of Sernando;-))))

    I love the nwes, thanks for such a detailed information!

    Iker – again- seems to be totally rocking Facebook, I wonder how long it will last. The pictures he posted are sweet!

    And it’s always good to see Serhio smiling like a kid, a sunshine!

  4. I wonder if those women in the lobby of the hotel realize who Torres is. Or if the people in the store realized. Most americans have no idea…

  5. Thanks Una for this wonderful and comprehensive post.

    Fernando indeed looks very cute after his shopping exercise! Go easy on Iker or Iker fans will be onto you next for picking on him :)

    I am pleased that VDB is fielding a strong lineup for this game. I saw an article in cnnsi.com that US may not field a strong team given they have to play Gold Cup starting Tuesday. I hope that is NOT true. I want to a strong showing from both teams and an entertaining match.

    As an American, I will be rooting for Team USA to win this game (not physically at Foxboro, unfortunately). But I do hope La Roja play well and this trip and the game serve as a bonding exercise to unite them for a strong showing in Euro 2012.

  6. Poor Lucho! That really was a defining moment for Spanish football! I am sure he will be watching today’s game with interest.

    The Marca piece on Pepe and Joan made me smile. <3

    Thanks for an excellent news round-up, Una.

  7. LOL una don’t worry about picking on nando’s taste in clothes, I also flinched when I heard that it’s from A&F…

    and I ADORED iker’s caption on Santi…haha CAZORLITA!! :)

  8. That photo of Sergio and the water bottle just makes me happy. He has such joie de vivre!

    Thanks for another fun and informative post!

  9. I love these guys! It sucks that I’m stuck a little further down the coast, but so happy they’re here!
    And I don’t think you single anyone out in the joke department. I always laugh at what you write, even if it’s directed at my favorites. You have some great running gags!

  10. Alex & Isco LOL what a pair!!! HAHAHA Absolutely LOVE the boys!

    And how cute is Morata? So Bambi!!! :D

  11. Sergio’s hair is nice as always, but the best thing is his smile… extremely sunny!! <3 <3 <3
    Good luck to La Roja tonight!!! the Americans are very tough rivals, capable of giving many bad patadas to our boys… so hope no one of them gets injured!!

  12. huh… I thought they sent David the award already… David won that like back in December … & I was think of taking classes in the USSA …. cause all the classes are sports related … but i changed my minded …

    THANX UNA FOR ALL THOSE WONDERFUL PICTURES!!!! I wish they would twit, fb more pics!!! :)

  13. I take it they never got to meet the President? I think I would have heard by now if they had.

  14. Does MFC stand for Most Favourite Canterano?

  15. I saw a fan photo of Xabi at the Providence Mall and he was carrying an Abercrombie & Fitch bag. I don’t know why footballers think A&F is so great, especially when they have access to better clothes. It boggles me–especially Xabi, because I expect him to always be well-dressed.

  16. oh una, i don’t even know where to begin to start explaining my thoughts on yesterday!!!!!

    i was sitting so close (field level) that i actually had to zoom my camera OUT to take photos. i think i took about 400, total, but i have to edit them before i send them to you. about 1 hr 15 min before the match started, a small group of spanish players took to the field for a bit of a walkabout and stroll and confab with various officials, coaches, etc. it was the first time i saw any of them in the flesh and i can’t even describe the feeling, even though they were still quite far away from me.

    i was so caught up in watching the small spanish delegation stroll around the field that i didn’t even notice two of the american players entered the field directly in front of me and were literally standing 5 feet away for a good 5-10 min. i was completely oblivious to who they were until they hopped over the barrier beside me and started signing autographs (i didn’t get any, i was still too fixated on watching the spanish team).

    then when the rest of the team were announced to come out for their warm up … OH MY GOD. i was totally speechless. to be sitting there and have sergio, xabi, arbeloa literally running right AT you from one side of the field to the other … WOW.

    they wore their white kit, which set off their tans (well, except for iniesta, bless him) really, really well and i have to say, they are ALL even better looking in person, if that’s even possible. arbeloa should model! he’s GORGEOUS.

    then iker came out and my entire world just about exploded. i’ve seen/met various celebrities and well-known people before, but nothing has ever compared to this. he’s just … words fail me. :)

    the starting XI mentioned above weren’t actually the starting XI … pepe was in net instead of iker. i will confess, a tiny part of me was disappointed, but i adore pepe so it was actually terrific as when else would i ever get to see him play? (also, i’m seeing RM in july in philadelphia and i know i will see iker in net then) also, iker was sitting on the bench directly opposite me so i had ample opportunity to watch him throughout the match. at one point during the second half, i looked over and he wasn’t there and i wondered where he’d gone and then i saw him warming up with the bib on!!! i actually squealed out loud! when they subbed him in, he got such a roar of approval from the crowd, it was incredible.

    there were 3 sort of drunk, really obnoxious guys sitting to my left who kept shouting things like “LIVERPOOL!” at nando and yelling at sergio not to drop the cup again, and one of them turned to me and asked how i got such a good seat, was i related to one of the players? (because god forbid i just happen to be a girl who likes football and decided to buy the ticket for herself …) so i said very bluntly, “yeah. i’m iker’s wife.” and the idiot turned to his two idiot friends and said, “really?! no $hit! dude, this chick is married to casillas!” they almost got kicked out of the stadium because they wouldn’t sit down during the match … i wish they would have. *sigh* so annoying.

    overall, though, it was such an incredible, exciting, fantastic day and i am so psyched to get home (i’m still on the road with a few more hours to go!) and sort through my photos!

    • ^^jealous!

      ““yeah. i’m iker’s wife.” and the idiot turned to his two idiot friends and said, “really?! no $hit! dude, this chick is married to casillas!”’

      hahahaha….big soccer fan, no? He didn’t even know Iker’s not married. *rolls eyes*

      • let’s just say the three of them were not real madrid fans and therefore likely didn’t know much about the real madrid members of la selección, and leave it at that. ;)

        but, YEAH. they paid a ridiculous amount of money to sit in those seats, were clearly spanish fans as they were decked out in various spanish club/national team clothing, and yet judging by that and other comments they made during the match, they struck me as knowing next to nothing really about the squad … i really wanted to tell them to sit down and shut up for most of the match, but being that i was on my own and there were three of them and they clearly had been drinking, i thought better of it.

  17. Are we taking bets on the next player you’ll be accused of criticizing and “hating on”? If so, I’ll take Javi (!!!) for 200 and Iker for 400, please! :-P

  18. Sernando! Man, Sergio’s hair looks luscious!

  19. I wonder who the next player I’m going to be criticized for picking on will be?

    Obviously, Iker. I mean the way you always pick on him and his love for purses or his way of dressing – admit it – you hate that guy.

    (sarcasmo)

  20. As you say Una “lots more reasons to love this team”!!!!! I can’t stop laughing at the photo of Fernando walking through the hotel lobby, with all the other guests just standing around. Don’t they realise how lucky they are – staying in the same hotel as the most gorgous football team in the world!!!

  21. I’m sure you’ll have a post about the match, but I was there and just have to say from what I saw 1)the announced lineup wasn’t right, but the one they did play had Xabi!!!! as captain!!!! and 2)you may need to bring the ‘Xabi Alonso Pose Section’ over from your Madrid blog because all I saw Xabi do was pose haha!

    Thanks so much for your blogs and translations Una, I love them!!!

  22. I can totally see now why he is your favorite canterano! he’s cute :3

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