time for a bit of La Rojita
The senior national team won’t be back until August, but for the next couple of weeks, we have
Javi Martínez (!!!) La Rojita to distract us! To recap briefly: tomorrow, they’re playing their first game in the U-21 Euro in Denmark, against England at 20:45h. The top three finishers of the tournament also qualify for the 2012 Olympics, which is why we have Javi (!!!) and (por favor) Juan Mata holding a homemade sculpture of the rings below.
La Rojita traveled to Denmark on Wednesday and set up shop in Silkeborg, from where they will travel to all their games. They’re currently staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel and training at the installations of Silkeborg Boldklub, and have had tough sessions to prepare them for the competition. During Thursday’s morning session, Iker Muniain was absent, as he stayed in the hotel recovering from the flu (he had a slight fever). Thiago Alcántara, meanwhile, joined his teammates, despite still feeling some pain in his left foot, as did David de Gea, whose finger was immobilized, and Juanín, who seems to have recovered from his leg injury. The afternoon session was canceled.
On Friday, the team met with a UEFA official in the morning, where he gave them a chat on fair play in English (apparently, our players said they didn’t need any translations, which means two things: either they can all understand English quite well (doubtful) or they knew that it would be a boring chat and so they didn’t want to listen (more likely)). The official stressed the word “respect” and said that referees of the tournament would be paying special attention to hard tackles, simulation of injuries/fouls, rough play inside the area, the protesting of the decisions of the referees and the use of elbows (this last one will be sanctioned with a red card). Any player who tells the referee to card a member of the opposite team will receive a yellow card.
Dani and Ander: sending messages with just their eyes?
And to cap it all off, UEFA once again spoiled the fun: they will sanction several types of goal celebrations, including making shooting gestures with one’s hands, celebrating with the fans and TAKING OFF ONE’S SHIRT. We’ve lost even before the tournament has begun.
The team also posed for their official photos, both individually and as a group. Boys will be boys, so during the shooting of the group photo, we got to see them mess around with each other’s hair, put their arms around each other, and Javi (!!!) of course fiddled with his collar.
During the individual shots, they of course tried to make each other laugh, and Thiago even tried to pose with a prop. The video is seriously adorable. And while Javi (!!!) is my number one, I have to admit that Dídac Vilaà is seriously hot. Don’t you agree? The future looks bright.
After that, the team trained once more, this time for 75 minutes, with Iker returning to the group. Around a thousand fans showed up to watch Spain.
Today, they took a walk in the morning, around Silkeborg Lake and the town. It looks like Javi (!!!) got into the spirit of things, posing like The Little Mermaid. They don’t seem too excited by the lake but it’s very scenic, no? And I love how like a quarter of the team has those red shoes! Following that, they had some free time, which some spent in the game room, Ander Herrera, Juanín and César Azpilicueta (another handsome boy) spoke to the press, and Luis Milla gave them a technical chat. This afternoon, they’ll travel to Herning to train at Herning Stadium, which is where they will play tomorrow.
Meanwhile, Luis Milla, in an interview with Spanish press agency EFE, spoke about his team.
on whether this is one of the best generations of Spaniards: this is a generation that has the opportunity to play in the first division, and with two players who are references – Javi Martínez and Juan Mata – because of what they achieved (the World Cup). It’s a good generation. Let’s see if we’re capable of winning. We have great individuals, but we want to be a great team.
on being in tune with the senior team: we work along the same lines as the senior team. But it’s not only the U-21 team, but all of the lower categories. Just like the senior team, we have a generation of midfielders with a lot of quality, who set the style. Spain plays the football that its midfielders propose. The toque works for them, just like it does for the younger teams.
on Thiago: he’s a very important footballer for us. He’s young and has great qualities, but he should continue to improve. He has to continue being ambitious and to not stop. He has to think about improving every day, to be humble and to continue along those lines because he has talent and the right conditions. The most important thing is to be humble and to have a good mentality. He has to take important steps to get to the level of Xavi or Cesc. It’s clear that he can get there, but right now the most important thing is for him to have a good mentality and continuity. I believe he has them. But he lacks the humility that they had in order to get to the highest levels.
on the leaders of the team: they’re very young, but there are players who are the reference. For me, they are the three captains, Azpilicueta, Mata and Javi Martínez. They represent the maturity in the group. They’re the veterans. The references. They are a very important example for their teammates.
And here are some photos and other things the boys have tweeted: Álvaro Domínguez tweeted a photo of him with Rubén Pérez, El Picho found his own name in Silkeborg, Álvaro beat Diego Mariño at “pin pon” so badly that he “went to bed crying,” and Iker tweeted this adorable photo of himself with Ander.