ICYMI – Spain vs. Liechtenstein
In case you missed it – Spain vs. Liechtenstein [2011-09-06, Euro 2012 qualifier, 6-0].
We did it! We qualified for next year’s Euro and will be defending our title in Poland and Ukraine! On Tuesday night in lovely Logroño, Spain scored six goals as they beat Liechtenstein, and Thiago made his debut and tied his future to Spain. Spain has earned 18 points out of a possible 18 in qualification.
ONE. The goals (two goals each for Álvaro Negredo and David Villa, plus one each from Sergio and Xavi) were great, the passes that led to them were great, and the celebrations as well! (But why was Thiago ignoring PF Juan Mata?) A lot has been said about Spain’s performance in friendlies, but when things actually count, they come through (and also because Liechtenstein is not as formidable an opponent as Italy or Portugal).
TWO. The action on the field was dazzling, but it was also worth it to keep an eye on the stands, because that’s where Javi Martínez (!!!) was. He, along with Fernando Torres, Alberto Botía, Martín Montoya, Pepe Reina and Santi Cazorla, were the six players cut from the game, so they watched the game from the stands. Or rather, the majority of them watched the game when they bothered to stop fiddling around or talking on their mobile phones.
I loved that Álvaro Vázquez tweeted to Martín Montoya, “Monti! You looked so handsome on TV! Jeje, enjoy yourself, phenomenon. A big hug.”
This was the first time that Torres had neither been on the field nor on the bench since 2006. His face got longer as the night went on, although he did smile when children came up to him for photographs and autographs.
THREE. The bench was also an interesting place, as Fernando Llorente was there – he didn’t end up starting as Álvaro Negredo got the nod – as well as Thiago, whom everyone expected would make his official debut with La Roja, tying his future to Spain for always. Meanwhile, Pedro seems to have spent the entire game chewing on his nails.
Luckily for the yawning Thiago and the bored-looking Alvarito, the game got more exciting as the night went on.
A couple more shots from the bench. I like how Fer has his arm around Thiago’s leg, and Cesc’ pensive expression.
FOUR. Speaking of Thiago, he made his official debut for Spain early on in the second half, coming in for Sergio Ramos. In this way, he is no longer eligible to play for Brazil. After the game, this is what he tweeted (here and here): I will always remember this special day and keep it in my heart! A dream official debut, with a win and qualification for the Eurocopa! Thanks to my entire family, my loved ones and all the people throughout the years who made all this possible! Thank you.”
FIVE. And speaking of Floris, he finally made an appearance in the 62nd minute, much to the delight of the home crowd (there had been shouts of “Vicente, put in Fernando” throughout the game). They had started cheering him on as soon as he got off the bench to warm up and chanting “Llorente, Llorente…” Unfortunately, Fernando was unable to score, despite his teammates trying their best to assist him, including Villa giving up a chance for a hat trick to find Fernando.
SIX. A couple of pre-game moments, featuring Xavi, Iker’s boots and Iker’s locker, as prepared by Toni Guerra. During games, I usually always glance at Iker once in a while to see how he’s doing, especially when the ball is in the other half. But in this game, I forgot about him until the 64th minute, when a Liechtenstein player took a shot, and Iker finally got some work, because Spain’s play was so electrifying.
SEVEN. A couple of cute moments featuring David Villa and children. Before the game, he greeted the mascots, giving them high-fives. During the game, he patted the head of a ball boy. I also like how he used the corner flag to propel himself up, and how he’s barely taller than the ball boy.
EIGHT. The adorable Ander Herrera (a former U-21 player and best friend of Javi Martínez (!!!)) was at the game. He also visited the Club Selección tent, where he forecast that Spain would win 5-0, and said that he would like both Javi (!!!) and Fernando Llorente to score, or else his U-21 teammates and good friends Thiago or Juan Mata. To TVE (he was interviewed at the half), he said that it made him very happy to see his U-21 teammates on the senior team, and that it’s a motivation for all the players in the lower categories. Seconds later, he was sitting with Javi (!!!) in the stands, looking at a magazine with him.
NINE. This is obviously Cesc’ “but I miss Piqué look.” It reminds me of Iker’s sad look from the Chile game, although Iker had a lot more to be upset about.
TEN. A couple of moments of Fer looking nervous (yet hot) on the bench.
ELEVEN. I know some people will get upset if they don’t get their Sergio fix, so here he is, in all his glory, from warming up to winking to taking off his boots to simply watching the game.
TWELVE. I was quite upset when I saw TVE’s coverage of the game. At the conclusion of the game, they cut off right when Iker had removed his shorts (you can see the green that is Iker, then a flash of white, though it’s not his thighs, which are likely the same color, but his bicycle shorts) and earlier, right when Xabi was lifting his shirt.
THIRTEEN. Meanwhile, David Villa had exchanged his shirt, and was walking around shirtless when Silvia Barba cornered him for an interview. Joaquín Retamosa had to come up and drape a shirt around David’s shoulders, though thankfully that did not make any difference at all.
FOURTEEN. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Xabi was in top form on Tuesday night.
I call this pose “The Assist.”
PF Juan Mata is definitely a Xabi-in-training (along with Esteban Granero).
FIFTEEN. I was asked to include a few pictures of the atmosphere at Las Gaunas, so here they are, spread over the next few points.
SIXTEEN. Post-game statements.
After the game, VDB spoke about his contract renewal, saying that it has been postponed, since there’s still plenty of time to make a decision, adding that there’s no distance between him and the Federation and he would like to continue. He also thanked the journalists for being so concerned about the matter. As for the game, he praised the opponents for their “nobility” and remarked on how hard it was to open things up in the beginning. VDB also spoke about Xavi: “he gives us a lot of confidence, security and he also has a big influence on our style.” As to why Fernando Torres was not used, he explained, “there were 10 players that didn’t play. He’s an important man, but those who come to the national team are ones who earn it through their clubs, not the opposite.”
Thiago spoke about his debut, saying, “I’ve always wanted to play for Spain and not for Brazil and here I am. I enjoyed a unique moment, representing all of Spain. It’s a pleasure, a unique feeling.” He said he made the decision when he was 16 to play for Spain, and that “I had the option of going with Brazil, for my roots, family tradition and my visits in the summer, but I never thought about it. I’ve been in Spain since I was three, and I am who I am because of Spain. I owe them everything.”
Meanwhile, Álvaro Arbeloa spoke to COPE and admitted that he didn’t have his best day in the press conference the other day. He explained that the journalists asked the two pointed questions (one on people talking about the end of a cycle during the halftime of the Chile game and the other on the fights between Madrid and Barça) looking for headlines, and he’s tired of that. Álvaro said that they have to stop asking these types of questions already and start talking about football [yes, I completely agree]. They also asked him whether he had dived in that game, and he responded, “when I heard the whistle, I thought it was a penalty but now I’ve seen the images and no one touched me. You think that they’re going to make contact with their foot but you only have to watch the play to see what happened.”
The hometown favorite Fernando Llorente (you have to love him for the sole fact that he wears that tight shirt) was satisfied with the result, even though he didn’t get to score: “I don’t have words to thank all the people that came here and showed me so much affection. I would have liked to score to thank them. Today was a special day and the important thing was that I got to play, although it’s a shame that I couldn’t score.” He later said that perhaps he didn’t score because he was too obsessed with it, wanting to reward the crowd for all their support.
SEVENTEEN. Other notes.
– Xavi became the most capped field player in Spain’s history, with 103 games. That puts him in third on the all time caps list, behind Andoni Zubizarreta with 126 and Iker, who played in his 124th game on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso moved into a tie with Fernando Hierro for sixth place on that list with 89 games.
– Spain has two Euro qualifiers left, against the Czech Republic on Oct. 7 and Scotland on Oct. 11 in the Rico Pérez in Alicante.
– before the game in Alicante, UEFA will present those four Spanish players who have earned more than 100 caps with their country with a medal commemorating this feat and a commemorative cap to “inaugurate” them into the club of 100. These four are Andoni Zubizarreta (126), Iker (124 – though this game could be his 126th), Xavi (103) and Raúl (102). Scotland’s Kenny Dalgish will also be honored in the same way. They are among 109 footballers from 53 federations who have achieved this landmark number. Zubi has confirmed his assistance, and Iker and Xavi are expected to be called up for the game. So, that leaves only Raúl, though the RFEF is optimistic that he will be there.
– this was Spain’s 12th consecutive win in official games, with the streak starting in their second World Cup game, against Honduras. The record is held by the Netherlands with 14, and that streak ended with Andrés Iniesta’s goal in the World Cup final.
– a breakdown of the stadium’s sound system meant that the national anthems were not played before the game. The teams were made to wait in the tunnel while they tried to sort it out, but in the end, the system could not be fixed. Instead, the Spanish fans “lo, lo, lo’ed” their way through the anthem as usual.
– the team arrived back in Madrid at 02:30h in the morning on Wednesday, after a 35-minute long flight from Logroño. The majority of the players were on board, although the contingent from Barcelona had flown directly back to Barcelona from Logroño, while the two players from Athletic Javi (!!!) and Fernando (and Ander) drove back to Bilbao (they first had dinner together with friends though, including Fer’s brother Chus).
Posted on September 8, 2011, in games and tagged arbeloa, cesc, del bosque, domínguez, iker, in case you missed it, javi, llorente, mata, montoya, pedro, sergio, thiago, torres, villa, xabi, xavi. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.