of Play, cheekbones & interviews
While other people were resting on Sunday morning, the players and VDB were busy receiving gift packs of a special La Roja Playstation 3 (160GB), a red Dualshock 3 controller, and a sticker in the colors of La Roja to customize the console. This is because Sony Compuer Entertainment España has become an official sponsor of the Spanish national team. Only 15,000 of these packs will be available to buy starting next month.
Pedro looked to be the most excited out of the boys, while Javi (!!!) looked like he wasn’t fully awake yet. Later on though, they gave Sony their best smiles, especially Santi, who has a particularly adorable one. It just makes you want to smile in return, no?
… el pobre suffered a small fracture to his left cheek during the morning recovery session, after accidentally taking an elbow to the face during a rondo, sending him to the CEMTRO clinic for tests with Dr. Celada. Raúl left the concentración in the afternoon with a noticeably swollen cheek, and with his new Playstation pack, which was carefully placed in the trunk of his car. He said that his cheek hurt a little, but it could be worse, and that he’s feeling fine. Here’s to a fast recovery!
I feel bad for him, because the team’s next game is in his home province of Valencia, and he’s also the only player on the current team from Valencia. In addition, he was just getting back into the momentum of things with club and country.
Carles Puyol and PF Juan Mata spoke to the press on Sunday afternoon.
Puyol on his return: I feel good, better each day. You have to take one step at a time because it was a very long injury, and I’m happy. Getting to 100 games is an objective, and I’m happy with how many I’ve played. In the beginning, I did think about retiring, as the first two or three months were the hardest and it went through my head because I had a setback and I didn’t see any solutions.
Puyol on VDB and his injury: the support of the míster and my teammates was very important; I had already decided to leave after the World Cup. But we talked, and winning the World Cup helped. They helped me to change my opinion and during the injury, both he and my teammates called me. They’ve been a help during those complicated moments, and seeing that you have people on your side is very important. I’m very happy with the decision I made.
Puyol on Fernando Torres: his work is very important and we appreciate it. For us, he’s a very important player.
Mata on Fernando Torres: I see him every day and he’s good, with a desire to score goals with Chelsea and the national team, and contribute all he can. He’s played many games here, he has an irreproachable career and he’s one of the best players in Europe, and he’s going to continue to show that.
Puyol also didn’t say whether he would retire after the next Eurocopa. I hope he makes it to 2014!
In the afternoon, the boys had another training session, and they were down to 20 players after Raúl Albiol left the concentración. Xabi Alonso trained at the same intensity as the rest of the group (yay!), although with a bandage wrapped around his right leg, while Sergio Ramos only joined his teammates for the stretching at the beginning of the session, before doing two laps around the field with Hugo Camarero and walking off. However, he’s expected to train with his teammates this afternoon. VDB used the session to try out some new combinations, such pairing up Carles Puyol and Javi Martínez (!!!) in the center of the defense. However, on Tuesday, the defenders in front of Pepe/VV (Iker will get a rest, and his 126th game will be against England in Wembley, the same stadium – in its previous incarnation – where Iker debuted with the national team at the U-15 level) should be Arbeloa, Piqué, Puyol and Jordi Alba, who will get his debut.
Watch a video here from Cuatro, where they speculate if Xabi is Superman (expanding on the superhero theme) because the karate kick from De Jong in the World Cup final, a brutal kick from Sergio Busquets to his knee in one of the clásicos and last Friday’s horrific tackle from Hübschman all failed to break our Xabi.
During their time at Las Rozas, the players also met with the two teams playing in the final of the Copa de Centros Penitenciarios, which is organized by the RFEF. The players on those teams busily chased the players down, getting photographs and autographs.
The Xabi Alonso pose section™, and once more, distracted Javi (!!!).
And David Villa, Xavi and Pepe Reina also handed out medals to the winners of their Campus Villa Xavi Reina Football 7 tournament.
After the session, the team left the Ciudad de Fútbol for Barajas, where they caught a flight to Alicante. Juanín posted this shot of him with Santi on his twitter, while Iker snapped the remaining 2/3 of the A-team and posted it on his Facebook.
Sergio and Fernando fans should be happy to know they sat together, and Xabi fans should be happy to know that he was looking totally boss. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
They arrived in Alicante a few minutes after 22h, and headed for the Hotel Melía Alicante.
La Roja is returning to Alicante 10 years after their last game there, a qualifier for the 2002 World Cup against Liechtenstein on March 24, 2001. Spain won that game 5-0 behind two goals from Gaizka Mendieta and one each from Iván Helguera, Fernando Hierro and Raúl.
In an interview with Superdeporte, Jordi Alba said the following:
Do you talk about football at home? Enough. My parents didn’t like football at all before my brother and I started playing. But we began to play, and they came to the games to support us, and they like it better now as we’re in the elite, my brother in futsal. They tell me whether I did things well or not. It’s clear that the support from one’s family is important, since you know how you did. The family is always there for you in important moments, they’re a great support.
In fact, your father came to pick you up that day you found out you were called up with La Roja. Yes, but it wasn’t a special visit, the two of them come to Valencia once in a while. They were really emotional. For any father, it’s important to see his child happy, and achieving their goals. They, my brother David, my girlfriend Melissa, my friends from the neighborhood and from football… I received more congratulations that day than I had ever before (laughs).
What do you like to do when you leave the training grounds? I like to play Play, if my friends come to see me, and above all rest because that’s important for an athlete. I go to the movies a lot, as often as I can. I like comedies, although I watch every genre. I also like to play chess. I play with my father when he comes to Valencia, whenever we have some free time, or with friends. I usually win (laughs), but it depends on the day. I like it a lot.
on the national team, you spend free time with Mata and Villa, no? Yes, of course. Mata and Villa are two great players in Europe, and they’re also quite humble, they always help a lot, they’ve done that with me since I arrived. I have a lot of affection for them, and I get along very well with them. They’re happy because I’m here with them.
And here are the interesting bits from an interview David Villa did with El País.
What was La Barriada, the neighborhood you grew up in, like? It’s a zone in my town. There, I grew up playing football on the streets. We would make a goal out of two stones anywhere. Now I look at my daughters and they have so much more than I had, it’s difficult to raise them on the streets like I had. My childhood was marked by happiness.
It’s said that you love football so much that you never disconnect from it. I do when I’m with my girls. It’s true that I spend more time than I should thinking about football, much more than in the training sessions, games and trips. But I like it. At least I only have daughters. If I had sons, I would disconnect less, although my oldest daughter likes watching games, going to the stadium.
[Come on David, girls can be just as interested in football as boys, you should know that as your wife used to play!]
I suppose it helps that your wife played football, no? She’s known me for so long! She’s spent her entire life with me. She understands me. She knows what my profession is and she enjoys it. She played until she was 15. She’s not very critical, she doesn’t get involved in that, but she knows when I’m having a bad moment.
How is your new apartment? (Laughs) The work on the palace is going slowly… Xavi told you to ask me that, didn’t he? Well, we’re there. Actually, it’s my wife who’s doing all the work, she’s the one who understands it. Whatever she tells me will be fine. She knows more than me, and in addition, I want it to be how she wants it to be. I hope that it can be completed soon.