a little Spain-Venezuela preview
(Post illustrated with photos of our boys with children from yesterday’s session, including the Pied Piper of Móstoles.)
Tonight’s game will be the third game between the two countries. The first one took place in June 28, 1981 in Caracas, in the run-up to the 1982 World Cup. Spain won that night 2-0, behind goals from Juanito and Satrústegui. Periko Alonso played that night, and tonight, his son (Xabi Alonso) will be playing. The second time was on Aug. 18, 2004, in Las Palmas, when Spain won 3-2 after Raúl Tamudo scored twice and Fernando Morientes once. The only current players who started that night were Xabi Alonso and Fernando Torres (Iker and Carlos Marchena were also called up for the game).
June 28, 1981. Spain was playing Venezuela at the Olympic Stadium in Caracas. It was time for the national anthems. There was only one problem: no one could find the record with the Spanish national anthem on it. So, the Venezuelans decided to play their own anthem, followed by the Colombian one in honor of the referee that night (Guillermo Velázquez later said, “in the 25 years I’ve been refereeing, I’ve never had my country’s anthem played outside of the country”). Then came silence.
Antonio Maceda remembers, “we were on the bench and I saw a man running towards us with a microphone, telling us we had to sing our anthem.” The Spaniards thought it was a joke, but then they saw he was serious. They refused to sing the anthem (it probably had something to do with the fact that the Spanish national anthem has no words) and said if they don’t hear the anthem, they weren’t going to play. Finally, someone thought of a solution: they called a radio station and asked them to play the anthem, which was transmitted to the stadium via megaphone. The next day, a pro-independence Canary Islands group claimed responsibility for stealing the record.
As mentioned earlier, Vicente del Bosque could get his 39th win today, setting a new record for Spain. His current record is 38-1-4. Since his debut on the bench in Copenhagen in 2008, VDB has used 38 players, including 18 who made their debut with the team. The 19th will be Manu del Moral, tonight. VDB has played Iker the most, while the most utilized field player is Joan Capdevila. Two of those players whom VDB debuted are in the top eight of his most used players: Gerard Piqué (February 2009) and Sergio Busquets (April 2009).
And some more stats from Mr. Chip: Spain has never lost against a South American team that is not Argentina or Brazil. In the 29 games against the other eight national teams that make up CONMEBOL, Spain has a 20-9-0 record, with 56 goals in favor and 18 goals against. Iker could record his 89th victory with Spain tonight. If he wins the next six games, he’ll break Lilian Thuram’s record of 94 on the same day that he reaches the 126 games of Zubi. Raúl Albiol can extend his world record of consecutive wins tonight. The win against the U.S. was the 26th in a row. Xabi Alonso is in second place on that list, with 20.
And Huecco will perform at halftime!