go La Rojita!
La Rojita takes on Belarus tonight (18h), with a spot in the U-21 Euro finals and an Olympic berth at stake (it’s obvious, but I’ll say it – if they win, they’ll be in the final and in the Olympics). Yesterday afternoon, they trained in Viborg Stadium, and it appeared that Luis Milla will go with the starting line-up that has worked so well in the last two games: De Gea, Botía, Domínguez, Montoya, Dídac, Javi (!!!), Thiago, Ander, Muniain, Mata, Adrián. Ángel Villar and Fernando Hierro (in his last week in charge!!!) were present at the session, and will watch the game tonight as well, along with Alejandro Blanco, the head of the Spanish Olympic Committee.
Today, due to the hour of the game, the team had lunch at the abnormal (for Spaniards, probably normal or even a bit late for everyone else) time of 13h. Prior to that, they took a walk through Silkeborg, had a technical chat and a bit of free time.
It appears that the blows that Álvaro Domínguez received in the last game and the muscle problems Thiago has after playing three complete games won’t keep them out of this one. And during Monday’s training session, César Azpiliculeta became the first (and hopefully last) injured player in this tournament, after suffering a muscle injury to his right quadriceps while shooting at the goal. If you remember, Azpi recently came off a serious injury to his left knee which sidelined him for most of last season with Marseille, so this was a piece of bad luck. Luckily, tests showed that it wasn’t serious and he is available for tonight’s game.
Spain hasn’t played football in the Olympics since 2000. Four of our world champions (Xavi, Puyol, Capdevila and Marchena) played in Sydney, and Iker missed out because he was already playing on the senior team by then (he had made his debut in June 2000).
Photos, interviews, etc.
– Iker Muniain tweeted this photo of him and brother Andoni at McDonald’s, saying they deserved a treat. Andoni kind of looks like Iker’s La Rojita twin, David de Gea, no?
– COPE spoke with the adorable Ander Herrera (listen here). They talk about everything happening with La Roja, and say that they’d like to see La Rojita take on La Roja in a game. Me too! But which side will Javi (!!!) and Juanín play on?
– Meanwhile, Javi (!!!) spoke with SER (listen here). They talk a bit about what happened one year ago in South Africa, and what’s happening now in Denmark. Among the things Javi (!!!) said were that his mother (!!!) knows more about football than he does (I love his mother. She deserves a !!! for being like that and for being Javi (!!!)’s mother), and that she’s a socia of Athletic and so she’ll most likely be voting in the upcoming presidential election. He also once again says that he doesn’t have a girlfriend (the presenter was saying how next summer he might not have a lot of free time, since Javi (!!!) said he’d like to play in both the Olympics and the Eurocopa, so he has to make sure his girlfriend is alright with that, and Javi (!!!) interrupts and says he doesn’t have a girlfriend so that won’t be a problem). Javi also says his parents are there in Denmark and a bit bored, because there’s nothing to do there.
– (PF) Juan Mata spoke with El País, and here are the highlights, which once again shows how humble, down-to-earth and smart he is. Another gran capitán.
on being a “veteran” of 23 surrounded by youth: I don’t notice it, but there are very young people here, those who are 18 or 19 and who are already playing very well, and who deserve to be here. But there’s not that much of an age difference, it’s not noticeable at all.
on whether he gives advice: I don’t feel that I have the right to give advice to anyone. These boys know what football is, how they have to focus during games. What I can contribute, if necessary, is my experience. But they already know the lesson very well.
on winning: I want to be here and win everything I can. I’m competitive. I know it’s difficult, but right now, if we win two games, we’ll be champions of Europe and have the possibility of playing in the Olympics, and I believe that Spanish football deserves to be there. And then there’s the Euro that same summer. Egotistically speaking, I hope I can play all of those things: the Eurocopa and the Olympics. Well, step by step.
on being with the U-21 team: it’s clear that our presence (his and Javi’s (!!!)) and our desire are not related to money. It’s related to hope.
on being the “favorite”: self-satisfaction is the first step to losing and not achieving the objective. I don’t think we play at a higher level than the rivals. In fact, we’re coming into the semifinals with the possibility of not qualifying for the Olympics. If we continue being humble, playing like this, we will have more options, but without being the favorite or feeling superior. If we do the opposite, it will be the first serious mistake.
– AS had a nice article about four of the representatives of tiqui-taca in La Rojita: Ander, Thiago, Mata and Iker Muniain. Ander says, “our role model is Del Bosque’s team. Things are going well for our football and we have to continue in the same way. We have a very defined style. The football we like is the one where we have the ball.” Meanwhile, Thiago affirms, “we have an equipazo, from the goalkeeper to the forward.” Iker observes, “in each play, we like to maintain contact with the ball because we enjoy doing it like that. I feel very comfortable as part of this scheme.” And Mata says, “we have to recognize that there are many players in this generation whom everyone will be talking about in the future because they’re very good.“
Enough with that pose already!!!