¡Feliz 2012! I hope this year was great for you all, and that next year will be even better! And that of course applies to La Roja as well! Here’s a little end of the year post.
PART I. It’s been quite a year for La Roja, even though no titles were to be won in 2011 (for the senior team that is, we did win the Euros at the U-19 and U-21 levels, with Javi (!!!) of course captaining the latter team to success…). During this year, Iker became the most capped player in Spanish national team history, surpassing Andoni Zubizarreta against Costa Rica on Nov. 15, his 127th game with La Roja. Xavi, meanwhile, got his 100th cap on March 25 against the Czech Republic, and then became the field player with the most number of games played, surpassing Raúl’s 102 games against Liechtenstein on Sept. 6. He ended the year at 107. David Villa became the all-time top goalscorer against the Czech Republic on March 25, scoring his 45th and 46th goals, allowing him to surpass Raúl’s 44 goals. By the end of the year, he would reach 51 goals.
The victory against Venezuela on June 7 gave Vicente del Bosque his 39th win as coach of the national team, moving him ahead of Luis Aragonés for most wins. Four months later, against Scotland, VDB became the coach with the most number of wins in official games (28, ahead of Javier Clemente’s 27). Spain also tied the record of 14 consecutive wins in official games, putting them in select company with France and the Netherlands. If they win their first game of the Eurocopa against Italy, they’ll set a new record.
PART II. A little bonus PF Juan Mata, who answered a few questions about this year, next year and past years from Marca.
ONE. A non-sports related wish: to be healthy and for the unemployment problem in our country to be resolved, especially for young people to have more work opportunities.
TWO. An objective for 2012: in terms of football, to win a title with Chelsea and play in the Eurocopa and the Olympics (I know that’s more than one objective).
THREE. An idol in sports: Michael Jordan, he’s always been my idol.
FOUR. You’ll spend New Year’s Eve… at home, in London, with my entire family and all the friends who come (we have a game on Jan. 2).
FIVE. Do you peel the grapes? No, but I take out the seeds.
SIX. The sporting event you’d like to see in 2012: the Eurocopa and the Olympic Games, both with Spain as the winner.
SEVEN. Who would you give coal to on Jan. 6, Three Kings’ Day? To those who brought us into the financial crisis that we’ve been in for the last several years.
EIGHT. How many days of vacation do you think you’ll have in 2012? The lower the number of days, the better, as it will mean that I have to play in very important competitions.
NINE. How long do you think it will take you to eat all the turrón? Not a lot, I don’t usually gain weight, no matter how much I eat.
TEN. If the world does indeed end, what would you do the day before? I prefer not to answer.
ELEVEN. Which TV channel will you watch the New Year’s countdown on? Whatever one my grandfather decides, as he’s the “boss” of the remote control.
TWELVE. Champagne or cava? Champagne-flavored cider, I’m not going to say the brand, but you know where it will come from.
PART III. And a rundown of how our players spent their vacations. Those in England had to play, including Pepe (check out the lovely Christmas card featuring his three adorable children), PF Juan Mata, Fernando Torres and David Silva. Don’t forget to go watch PF Juan Mata speaking in English after his club’s match. Meanwhile, Álvaro Negredo married longtime girlfriend Clara, and a handful of players – Jordi Alba, Roberto Soldado, Santi Cazorla, Jesús Navas and Pablo Hernández – played in the Champions for Africa match. Iker held his own charity march, the Partido x la Ilusión, and suited up despite suffering from an allergic reaction that left his face all puffy and swollen. His face was back to normal by the next day.
Carles Puyol went back to his hometown of La Pobla de Segur, and spent some time coaching some of the younger teams, while his other half Gerard Piqué flew to Miami, where he watched the Heat play, and ran into Ruud Gullit, and of course spent some time with girlfriend Shakira.
The third musketeer, Cesc, spent time with his family, and got to eat the “best Christmas dessert in the world” – sweetened Greek yogurt, strawberries and cream. As for the A-team, Álvaro Arbeloa was back in Zaragoza (he drove there, along with his dogs) before flying to London for a couple of days, and Raúl Albiol was named an honored son of his hometown, Vilamarxant, and got a new dog, Minnie! Xabi Alonso went home to Donostia (these are all photos he took there), before suiting up for the Euskal Selekzioa in Bilbao against Tunisia.
Javi Martínez was back home in Ayegui, as was Fernando Llorente in Rincón de Soto/Logroño (after returning to training in Bilbao, he’ll spend New Year’s Eve in Donostia). Sergio spent his time in Sevilla (where he picked up the Andalucía Joven award) and then Rome, visiting the Trevi Fountain, as well as the Vatican. Víctor Valdés took home the award for being the best Catalan athlete of 2011, and then on Spain’s version of April Fool’s Day, Dec. 28, joked that he was in the hospital due to a shark attack in Fuerteventura. Some people really believed him, so he posted this photo to show that he was only kidding (also a joke – his purse). Valdés, Puyol, Piqué, Xavi, Sergio Busquets and Cesc also played in Cataluña’s friendly against Tunisia, which ended 0-0.
And David Villa left the hospital, and opened a twitter account!
PART IV. Happy New Year! Let’s hope 2012 will be a “red” year! And also a bit silver as well, in the form of the Eurocopa!
Javi (!!!): we invite you to start the year with something red…
Fernando: … so that 2012 will bring good luck to you…
Álvaro: … and you’ll be able to fulfill all your goals.
Santi: it’s clear what ours is.
Everyone: happy 2012!