La Rojita takes on Brazil tonight!
Mucha suerte for Spain as they play Brazil tonight at 18h local time in the U-20 World Cup quarterfinals, or early morning Spain time, at 01h (giving me a one hour rest period between the Supercopa and this game). But first, condolences to U-19 player Paco Alcácer, whose father Paco passed away on Friday. He fainted while leaving the Mestalla after watching the Trofeo Naranja between Valencia and Roma, in the company of his son and his wife. Doctors tried to revive him for half an hour, but were unable to. It’s suspected that a heart attack was to blame. Paco Sr. was only 44 years old. It was a sad ending to a brilliant night for Paco, as Valencia honored him during the game for his two goals in the U-19 Euro final and he also scored a goal against Roma as Valencia won the game 3-0.
Paco tweeted later on, “thank you for all the support you’re giving me, thank you! A hug.” Among the messages he received were those from his U-19 teammates, members of the current U-20 and U-21 teams, club teammates and other footballers: Dani Carvajal, Álex Fernández (and his brother Nacho), Álvaro Morata, Isco, Dani Pacheco, Álvaro Vázquez, Fernando Pacheco, Kiko Femenía, Koke Resurrección, Jordi Amat, Sergi Roberto, Cote, David de Gea, Juan Mata.
Dani Pacheco also wrote in his diary that he had originally wanted to write about the victory against South Korea, but “something happened that took all that desire away. We found out that the father of Paco Alcácer, Valencia footballer and star in the U-19 Euro final, has passed away. He’s a player very close to us and a teammate of some of those in this World Cup. We’re very sad and affected by the death of Alcácer’s father. It was a tough blow for the entire Spanish delegation and all of us, from the coach until the last player, want to express our condolences to the family. Even though we’re very far away, we very much regret this loss. Isco, a great personal friend of Alcácer, is one of the players most affected by this news. Our most sincerest condolences for Paco, and all his family, from all of us in the U-20 delegation. We’re with you, Paco. Stay strong. We’re going to fight even more for him and for his family to win this World Cup and dedicate it to them.”
The RFEF also sent out this message, in which they expressed their support for Paco and his family. Captain Marc Bartra, in the name of the team, said “we’re saddened by the terrible news. Paco is more than a teammate, he’s a good friend and an extraordinary athlete for all of us… we’re going to make even more of an effort to be able to dedicate these triumphs of the World Cup to him.” The RFEF also said their proposal to wear black armbands in memory of Paco Alcácer Sr. during the game against Brazil has been approved by FIFA.
I love how all categories of the Spanish national team are like one big family!
Meanwhile, the U-20 team continues to have a good time, between playing football, no matter where they are. On Friday morning, the team took a walk, ending up at shopping center Centro Comercial Regional Victoria (Puli should have been happy).
There, in the bowling alley Boliz, they got to bowl and play some billiards, but it seemed as if they still had football on their minds.
After that, they returned to the team hotel to rest and eat, and in the afternoon, they had a training session.
Sergio Canales spoke with the RFEF web site. The most interesting thing he said was that “the group we have is important. We’re all very good friends, we’re very united. It makes the training camp much easier, which you can see later on the field. We’ve even talked about spending our vacation time together next summer. This is great, it makes things easier and it’s good for the future.” Sergio also said that since he was so excited about playing in his first World Cup, this excitement helped him to recover from his injury faster. The interview was accompanied by some adorable photos.
The team held another training session on Saturday. Looking ahead to the game in Pereira against Brazil, Spain will be wearing their habitual kit of red shirt and blue shorts, along with black armbands for Paco Alcácer’s father. Before the game, the two captains will read a statement in favor of fair play and against racism. If Spain wins this one, they’ll face Mexico in the semifinals (the other game will pit Portugal against the winner of France and Nigeria).
This will be a special game for Rodrigo, who was born in Brazil, but plays for Spain. He told AS, “this is a special game for everyone, not just for me, as I was born in Brazil… when I was small, I cheered for Brazil in the World Cups, but now I’m going up against them and for me, it’s no problem. My friends in Brazil and my family are supporting me a lot, and they even told me I’m going to score. It seems that no one will kick me out of the house if we win today and I score! My entire family is with Spain. I’ve lived there since I was 11 [in Vigo, Galicia] and it’s the country that gave me the opportunity to play at this level.”