con las rojas
Perhaps I should change the name of this blog to “con las rojas” because the U-20 team provided the win yesterday, while the “maldición de los amistosos” continued for the senior team.
A “light” version of the match report since I’m still on vacation…
We look so pretty even when we’re suffering.
I will remember this game for the injuries and the particular defensive line-up that resulted, which made me laugh. Piqué asked to be changed at the half due to muscle problems in his right thigh and Iraola felt pain in his left hamstrings during the half. Given that VDB only had four defenders at his disposal and that these were two of them, he had to improvise and put Sergio Busquets in on the right for Iraola and move Javi Martínez (!!!) back to defend the middle with Raúl Albiol. Álvaro Arbeloa was the fourth defender, at the leftback position. I’m sure the Italians were excited at seeing this.
Meanwhile, Fernando Torres suffered a head injury, lost his hearing and had to be substituted out after 15 minutes or so. After examining him in the locker room, the doctors said that he was conscious but disoriented, and so they sent him to a hospital for a CAT scan, which showed that there was nothing serious, though he did have a small concussion. Torres then returned to the game, watching the end with his teammates.
Dr. Cota said after the game, “Iraola has the most worrying injury, since it appears that he suffered a tear to his hamstring muscle, which a magnetic resonance scan can confirm [Athletic has since said that the scan confirmed the “light-moderate” injury, and that Andoni is receiving physiotherapy]. Torres has a concussion and the CAT scan confirmed that it’s not serious, but he should remain under observation for the next few hours. Busquets received a direct blow to the ribs, he felt the pain when he received a blow to the knee. It doesn’t appear serious and I hope it hasn’t affected the kidneys. And Piqué was substituted as a precaution. I believe he can play on Sunday if there aren’t any complications. He has time to recover.”
Meanwhile, this game against Italy was the first one in which Raúl Albiol played and didn’t win. Up to this game, he has 27 wins in 27 games, starting on Oct. 13, 2007 against Denmark and lasting until the friendly against Venezuela in June.
Thiago also made his debut. After the game, he told Silvia Barba that “it was a very special moment. It’s an experience that I will remember for the rest of my life. It would have been better if we had won, but I’m very content because it’s a unique experience.” While he was chatting with Silvia, Mario Balotelli came up behind him and told the cameras that Thiago is “the greatest.”
AS described things perfectly in their match report: “what they do and how they appear in friendlies don’t have much in common with their status as world champions. What happened in Portugal didn’t happen again last night during the first half in Bari only because Cristiano wasn’t born in Italy and because San Iker appeared once more. Casillas was a giant against the Italians and against our own defense. The defense, scarce and fragile from the moment that Del Bosque made the list public, was a joke. The work of the coach is to fix this before the Eurocopa, and he should also use this time to pray that Puyol will be fit.
It was a miracle that the first half ended in a 1-1 tie. In that period, Italy scored a goal, sent a ball into the post and obliged Iker to make two paradones. Spain’s goal came from a penalty. It was Xabi Alonso’s 11th goal. In the second half, conditioned by the Supercopa, his own list and the injuries, Del Bosque had to improvise on improvisation.”
To avoid ending on a bad note, here are the positive things from this game.
ONE. Xabi’s goal.
TWO. The boys looking pretty before and after the game, including The Pout and The Perfect Profile.
THREE. The fact that Iker placed his hands on Raúl Albiol and Andrés Iniesta’s asses. Álvaro Arbeloa did the same to Fernando Torres (who can blame him?).
FOUR. The Junior Boss (!!!).
After the game, the team returned to Madrid, with the exception of Barcelona’s players, who went directly to Barcelona, and Pepe Reina and David Silva, who left for Liverpool and Manchester, respectively (Fernando Torres went back to Madrid). They arrived at around five in the morning, and seven and a half hours later, about half the team – Iker, Xabi, Albiol, Arbeloa, Santi, Monreal, Iraola, Javi (!!!), Fernando Llorente, PF Juan Mata, Álvaro Negredo, plus lots of former internationals such as Sergio García, Diego López, Borja Valero, Roberto Soldado, David Albelda, Pedro Munitis – headed to the Hotel Hesperia to support the AFE in their strike (as he went back to Barcelona, AFE VP David Villa was not present). It was fun seeing some of the players in the same clothes that they had started the concentración with, while others such as Xabi Alonso had time to go home and change. Carles Puyol flew in from Barcelona to represent his team there and he tweeted that he had lunch with Fernando Llorente.
How many of these footballers can you name?
Other La Roja news: tickets for the Euro qualifier against Liechtenstein on Sept. 6 in Logroño (La Rioja) will go on sale starting at 17h on Aug. 16, for between 35 and 65 euros. They will be available at Las Gaunas and online at http://www.servicaixa.com, if anyone is interested in going. And Brazil has canceled the friendly it was going to play against La Roja in October or November, without giving any explanations.
The U-20 team fared slightly better, though they did put us through some agonizing moments before finally beating South Korea 0-0 (7-6) on penalties in the round of 16 of the World Cup. Tello converted the first one, and the South Koreans did as well. Recio made it 2-1, and the South Koreans equalized. Koke’s shot was too high, but luckily Fernando Pacheco stopped the third Korean attempt, emulating his idol and teammate, Iker Casillas.
Álvaro Vázquez made it 3-2, the Koreans tied it 3-3, Isco made it 4-3, the Koreans tied it 4-4, Bartra made it 5-4, the Koreans tied it 5-5, Jordi Amat made it 6-5, the Koreans tied it 6-6. I was dying at this point. Then Oriol made Spain’s seventh penalty, and the Korean shot was too high. Victory for Spain. We had to suffer, but it was worth it.
Poor Koke said after the game, “I’m happy to have passed to the quarterfinals, but I have a thorn in my side from failing with the penalty. The sky fell on me when I sent the ball over the post. Luckily, Pacheco was fantastic and he stopped the next penalty. When you’re so depressed, you don’t think about anything, but then my teammates didn’t stop trying to help me and encourage me.”
The boys’ tweets after the game reflected the suffering and the sweetness of victory. Dani Pacheco: “what suffering! A bad game but we’re here! We’re going to be very strong!!!” Sergi Roberto: “a big win! What suffering but we’re now in the quarterfinals! Thank you for all the support!” Sergio Canales: “a bad game, but we’re in the quarterfinals, which is the important thing. Thank you to everyone for your support.”
Isco: “enormous, difficult and emotional victory in penalties. We’re now stronger than before.” Fernando Pacheco: “let’s go team, what suffering, but we’re now in the quarterfinals, thanks to everyone for your support.” Álvaro Vázquez: “a win that strengthens the team! You were great boys! What penalties… onto the quarterfinals!”
Twitter also brought us these cute photos from Dani Pacheco and Álvaro Vázquez with Sergio Canales and Jordi Amat, respectively. Jordi looks a bit like the fourth Albiol brother, no? I would even say that he looks more like El Chori than Miguel or Brian.
And yesterday, Spain bid farewell to Manizales after spending 20 days there, as they’ll be playing Brazil in the quarterfinals in Pereira (Sunday at 18h local time or Monday 01h Spain time). They said goodbye and thanked the employees of the Hotel Carretero, the volunteers, the local people for “making us feel as if we were at home.” The players were sent off with a music from a children’s orchestra, La Banda Sinfónica Infantil Gerardo Arias Ramírez, and several of them joined in, whether with maracas, drums or the clarinet, as Marc Bartra did. In Pereira, the team is staying at the Hotel Pereira, where they were received with a performance of regional dances.
The team also had their first training session in the city, where Luis Milla received a manteo, since he was unable to recover the ball before the players made 20 passes in a rondo. Julen Lopetegui had suffered this same “punishment” at an earlier session.
As usual, it looked more like recess than a training session.