day 5 – all set for Serbia!
May 25, 2012.
On Friday, Spain wrapped up preparations for its first friendly ahead of the Eurocopa, which will be played tonight at 18h against Serbia, with a training session and the trip to the site of the game, St. Gallen. Will we see any debuts tonight?
Hopefully, these men will not only debut, but also score an early goal, because did you know that in all games since Sept. 6, 2006, when Northern Ireland made a comeback against Spain, our team has always won when it opens up the scoring? That’s a 77-game streak of scoring first and winning.
The team held its last training session before Saturday’s friendly on Friday morning in Es-Schruns. The practice apparently exhausted Raúl Albiol.
Vicente del Bosque gave his first press conference since the concentración started. Highlights:
on the list he’ll give on May 27: if I had to acknowledge a player out of those who are here, I would say that everyone has done fantastic work. If I had to make a list, I would do the same. They’ve behaved fantastically and they have helped us to prepare for the Eurocopa. If I could, I would take along everyone who is here. We only have words of encouragement because they’ve all been great guys.
on Soldado vs. Negredo: both have trained well, and I have a good impression of both of them as persons and as players. Soldado participates less but he has this speed, and Negredo is stronger in the air, he holds onto the ball well… both are great, and that’s why we brought them. Both of them could make the final list.
David Silva, Bruno Soriano and Iker Casillas also spoke to the press, with none of them looking thrilled to be there, at least in this instant.
David on VDB saying he’s the “Spanish Messi”: it’s not any pressure on me, it’s a compliment. Messi is the best player in the world, and so it’s a pleasure for the coach to say this. It helps me to continue working hard and to adapt my game to the national team, to help with my contributions.
Bruno on how the last few days have been: from the time I arrived, I felt supported by everyone and my sensations are very good. I do my best at the training sessions to help my teammates. There is a phenomenal atmosphere. I don’t believe these players, who have won everything, are tired of winning and achieving success. This is a Eurocopa and I see them with a lot of hunger, with this desire to continue winning games and championships and I am trying to help in whatever I can. I see a strong, united group, with a good atmosphere, and I believe that’s important. I know that making the final list is difficult. Being here with the national team is a wonderful experience, and not being on the Eurocopa list won’t be a failure. I respect the decisions of the coach and I’m just trying to help out here.
Iker on the possibility that he’ll break the world record for most wins with a national team against Serbia: each time these things come up, I find out about it through the press. If I achieve it, I’ll be happy since it’s a new record.
Iker on the first days of the concentración and injuries to important players: we’re currently in the midst of a concentración that is different than ones in previous years. But I believe it’s good, because it allows the coach to give young people an opportunity, because they deserve to be playing with the senior team. It’s important for the national team, and the coach has many players to choose from for the Eurocopa. The injuries to Puyol and Villa are a blow to us, but we have players who can occupy those positions and we’re convinced that we can overcome this. Everyone feels that these are two very important absences for us.
Iker on repeating as champions: it’s going to be difficult to win the title again. There’s nothing to worry about in terms of football, but on the mental side, our biggest rival could be ourselves, since winning depends on how much hope, desire and effort we put in.
Later that day, the team traveled to St. Gallen, Switzerland, where Saturday’s game will be played, arriving around 20h after a one-hour trip by bus from Schruns. A few minutes earlier, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata had arrived from Madrid via Zurich, and so they joined the team at the Radisson Blu Hotel.
That evening, after dinner, the team watched the final of the Copa del Rey together. I guess Xabi wasn’t as interested as the others.
Other things: earlier in the day, before they traveled to Switzerland, Fernando Torres and PF Juan Mata were at the Puerta América Hotel in Madrid, at a Nike event where they presented their new boots.
When answering questions from the press, PF said that each win and each goal that the team achieves in the Eurocopa will be dedicated to David Villa: “for me and for Spain, the absence of El Guaje is very important, it’s a shame. He gave us many goals and he’s worked hard for five very tough months. His decision honors him, it’s a great gesture. We’re going to try and win for Villa. Each goal will be dedicated to him.” PF also said that Fernando deserved to be on the list and that “he’s going to be very important for us in the Eurocopa, just as he was in the last one we won.”
Meanwhile, Fernando Torres spoke about this call-up: “I spent the whole morning waiting for the communique from the federation, I knew that Mata was going to go because he’s a regular and he’s had a fantastic season. I was more excited about this call-up than I was for my first one.” Torres also said it was a tough blow for him not to make the last one.
Speaking of Juanín, here are a couple of pictures from the time he spent in Asturias. On the left, that kid doesn’t know how good he’s got it (I wonder how the photo turned out), and on the right, PF is kissing his grandmother Josefina Rodríguez in Oviedo.
And here are a couple more Gustaff Choos portraits. This time around, they look like mug shots. Javi’s (!!!) hair and beard don’t help matters.
Looking ahead to today, besides meals, the team will take a walk after breakfast, have a technical chat and then make their way to the stadium around 16:30h, to begin preparing for tonight’s game.