all set for the Czech Republic!

Spain takes on the Czech Republic tonight in Prague (20:45h) in their second to last Euro 2012 qualifier, though Spain has already qualified.  And if Jordi Alba does debut, he’ll become the 723rd player to defend the red shirt of Spain.

Mmmm… Basque men…

A little preview…

… courtesy of Mr. Chip and AS:

7-6 to the Czechs: Spain and the Czech Republic (and Czechoslovakia before) have faced each other on 15 occasions, with seven wins for the Czechs, six for Spain, and two ties.  Only four other teams have beaten Spain more: France (11), England (11), Italy (10) and Germany (8).

Iker & 150: this game is Iker’s 150th call-up with Spain.  That means that he’s played about 80 percent of the games.

Villa & 50: David Villa has scored 49 goals with Spain.  Only 13 players have scored more goals than that with their national teams in Europe, so Villa’s next targets are Robbie Kean, Hakan Sukur, Lajos Tichy and Thierry Henry, each of whom have scored 51.

Jordi & 4: Jordi will be the fourth player from L’Hospitalet de Llobregat to debut with the team (if he does debut), after Biosca, Sergio González and VV.

No goals in Letná: Spain has never scored in the predecessor to the current Generali Arena, where they haven’t played in 75 years.  The two times they played there were losses: 0-2 on June 14, 1930 and 0-1 on April 26, 1936.

Good luck: the Czech Republic is the country that Spain has played the most as a visitor (six times) without winning once.

To Prague we go

The team arrived in Prague around midday on Thursday, where they were met by fall temperatures.  It’s been 15 years since Spain was last in the Czech Republic (the last game the two teams played in the country was on Oct. 9, 1996).  The players modeled new uniforms, made up of a gray polo shirt, black pants and a black jacket, which is much more subtle than their usual red.  I like them!  And I imagine Sergio Ramos is just lurking out of the viewfinder on picture on the left…

On the way over, a two-hour flight, the footballers rested, read or played games – Sergio, Álvaro and Raúl Albiol played parchís on the iPad (remember the outcome last time?), as did Pedro, Busquets, Villa and Thiago.  Meanwhile, Víctor Valdés also used his iPad to show that his brother Andrés Iniesta is with the team on this trip.  How sweet!

After arriving, the delegation headed for the Marriott hotel.  Before lunch, VDB and Iker spoke to the press.  Iker’s bag is quite huge.  But at least he’s loyal to the national brands.

The press conference

VDB on whether he spoke with Silva to clear things up: I haven’t had the occasion to speak with him, but I don’t believe it’s necessary.  There wasn’t any serious problem, it was just an opinion and nothing more.

On Puyol’s return and Villa’s state: it’s a joy to have him playing with us again, to return to a call-up.  In the case of Villa, yesterday it was a precaution on the part of the doctors and the fisios, and we preferred for him not to finish the session, but we don’t expect any problems for him to play tomorrow.

That profile is Perfect!

Iker on Puyol’s return: I believe it’s something to be happy about, and to be happy for him.  Those who know him know that he’s suffered a lot, and he did it silently.  I’m happy for the team and for the group.  He’s a reference for all those who come to the national team, in this case Jordi Alba, as well as for those who have been here for more time, we can also learn a lot from him for his professionalism and for the example he sets for everyone.  What else can I say about Puyi.

on surpassing Zubizarreta: on a personal level, it’s clear that yes, it’s something that’s coming up.  It gives me an enormous satisfaction to look back and see that I’ve been on the national team for 11 consecutive years; it’s gratifying.  I’m happy, since it’s not easy to stay at this level for so much time.  Every coach has chosen me and I’m grateful.  Zubizarreta has more games, but I don’t have obsessions.  It’s close, but it’s not something that I’m obsessed with.

Those smile lines are perfect too.

on whether he’d like to play in the Olympics: it’s clear that I would have liked to play in an Olympics, in his day Camacho chose me to play for the senior team [in the 2000 Eurocopa, so Iker missed out on the Sydney Olympics].  In this sense, I’m more traditional, and I think that those kids who qualified for the Olympics and have been working towards this for two years have the right to go and defend Spain.

The training session

During the training session on Thursday afternoon in the Generali Arena, Vicente del Bosque’s team did exercises, practiced their shooting and finished with a half-field game.  The boys worked out for about an hour.

During the game, VDB tried out Raúl Albiol with Gerard Piqué in the defense, along with Sergio Ramos and Álvaro Arbleoa, PF Juan Mata and David Silva on the wings, with Sergio Busquets and Xavi in the center and Fernando Torres up front, though his line-up for tonight is not confirmed.  The other team was made up of Jordi Alba, Puyol, Javi (!!!), Xabi, Villa, Thiago, Santi, Pedro and Llorente.

David Villa showed that he has recovered completely from the muscle pains in his left leg that caused him to miss part of Wednesday’s session.  He trained at the same intensity as the rest of the group.  The session ended with a free kick session, with Sergio, Xavi, Thiago, Xabi, PF and Santi taking their best shots, literally, at Iker.

Several of the players also got to chat with Czech keeper Petr Cech, including his Premier League rival Pepe Reina, teammates Torres and Juanín, and good friend Iker Casillas.

Other things

In declarations to radio program “El Partido de las 12,” VDB said he would like to continue with their win streak, and that too much confidence is never a good thing.  He also touched upon the David Silva question, admitting that “it’s true that we didn’t behave well with him during the World Cup.  He doesn’t play very much not because of a lack of confidence, but because there is a lot of competition and you have to make difficult decisions that are hard to understand.  He’s a fantastic player and he’s showing that in the Premier.  I haven’t spoken with him.  We should all be able to put ourselves in the shoes of the other person, it’s normal that he’s hurt, as it’s impossible to make everyone happy.”  As for Fernando Torres, the míster said, “he hasn’t had a very good season but he has quality and he’s playing better.”  He said the last game, which Torres watched from the stands, should have served as a stimulus for the player.

Meanwhile, Xabi Alonso told Radio Marca’s “Intermedio” program that “fortunately for us, Puyol has returned to the national team.  He’s gone through a difficult moment, and it’s a joy that he’s here with us now.”

Spotlight on Jordi Alba

Jordi Alba spoke with the RFEF’s web site, saying that his first trip with the national team “is a reward for me, the fact that I can live with players that have been world champions makes me very content and I’ll try to learn as much as I can.”  As for his possible debut, “for any player, his biggest dream is to be able to play, one day, with the shirt of his country, and for me, that would be great.  In the case that I don’t play, I would say the same, I’m very content to be here with the rest of the players.  If I play, it will be better and if not, I’ll be just as content.”  Jordi also said he’s never participated in a training session with so many people watching.

Meanwhile, an interview with Superdeporte says that the two Davids and PF Juan Mata have “adopted Jordi like a son” during his time with the national team.  Jordi also reveals that he used to watch La Roja play whenever he could, because “it’s the best national team in the world and always a pleasure to see,” that he watched the final of the Eurocopa with friends in Hospitalet and the final of the World Cup at home with his family, and that he jumped up with Andrés Iniesta scored.  He also says he doesn’t have any Spain shirts of other players, only his own from the lower categories.

What about El Chori?  And is Jordi standing, while the others are all sitting?

Social networks

Iker posted a picture of him with his “good friend” Petr Cech, saying “great goalkeeper, better person.”  Someone needs a better camera.

And apparently the parchís competition between Sergio, Raúl and Álvaro continued at the hotel.  Xabi Alonso provided this snap of the three of them “concentrating” on the game.  Notice the basketball jerseys on Raúl and Álvaro, that Álvaro is not wearing shorts (why couldn’t Xabi have taken that photo from another angle???  This also prompted Álvaro’s older brother Yago to tweet, “it’s noticeable when his wife doesn’t dress him” – jajaja!!!), and the huge bandage on his right leg.  Plus, Sergio apparently needed a bit of a booster to sit on that chair, and he’s wearing the hotel slippers.  In response, Álvaro tweeted that “we look like Kasparov, Karpov and Fischer.”  It looks like Sergio won one game, and Paul Pierce 34, aka Albiol, the next one (Álvaro thought that was “incredible,” and Sergio said El Chori said “it’s about time”).  I love these boys so, so, so much.

Why didn’t Sergio bring his Rondo jersey?  And I find it very endearing that The Twins plan what items to pack together.  I really need to find a way into the concentración.

La Rojita

As for La Rojita, they beat Croatia 2-0 to go 3-0 in their group for Euro 2013 qualifying.  Koke Resurrección and Rodrigo scored the two goals.  In those three games, they’ve scored 11 goals and received only two.  The only negative note was that Asier Illarramendi’s injury turned out to be serious.  He has torn fibers in his leg that will see him out for three weeks.  In a way, that benefited the team, because his substitute was Koke, who of course scored the first goal and played very well.  After the game, Koke said he was happy to have participated in this win by scoring one of the goals, but above all he was happy for the team and for getting three important points.

Bonus Javi (!!!)

In a chat with Eurosport/Yahoo Spain, Javi (!!!) said that he’s fine now after the collision last week, and although he’s still in a bit of pain, it’s nothing.  He also said he “obviously” gets along the best with Llorente out of all his national team teammates since “I share a team with him.”  As for playing on the national team, he called it “a reward for me and for my work.”

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Posted on October 7, 2011, in interviews, la rojita, team, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Thanks for the post! So cute that Jordi’s been adopted! And I noticed that too about Alvaro, the cast and no shorts! I hope Villa scores some more so that he ranks even higher!

  2. we all got to thank Xabi for tweeting a photo of pantless Arbeloa :D I hope they continue to document their neverending parchis tournament on twitter. And Chori needs to get going with his own twitter account, for some reason I think he’ll get back to the guys posting photos of him all the time.

  3. Fact that Arbeloa is without a short, pirceless! after seeing the a-team + sergio, I can’t help wondering who is rooming with Iker?!..He is should be part of this “party”…I love them too so much so much!

    • I was thinking the same thing. Where is Iker? He normally plays with the twins and Sergio. What I know is that Carbonero travelled with them this time because T5 covers this game so…

  4. Albiol is so cute and dorky in the Celtics jersey. I love them all!

  5. Omg VV and Andrescito BFFs, how cute. Una por fin, Iker’s shoes match his polo shirt! Fantastic post.

  6. As well as that profile and those smile lines, those eyes are also perfect.

  7. I love in the “Basque men” picture how several of them are working on their Xabi poses. No better person to imitate than the master himself. :)

    Of the picture on the left under the “To Prague we go” section, does it not look like Xabi’s already got his “boss” hat on & giving advice to Iker?

    How cute is the picture of VV & Iniesta? True bffs <3

    Congratulations to La Rojita!

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