day 9 – all set for South Korea!
May 29, 2012.
Spain takes on South Korea tonight (20h in Bern) in the second of its three preparatory games for the Eurocopa, which starts in less than two weeks! Are you excited?
Sergio was interviewed by TVE yesterday, and while nothing really interesting was said, there was this footage of a cute moment between Sergio and Jordi Alba back in Madrid, and the interviewer also did what all of us would like to do to Sergio (touch him) at the end, although I think I would have gone for the hair, to see if it’s really as soft and smooth as I imagine.
Some data, courtesy of Mister Chip over at AS.
to 95 wins: Iker could become the first player in the history of national team football to reach 95 wins with his national team, breaking the record that he currently shares with Lilian Thuram and Ahmed Hassan. However, Hassan is playing two days later with Egypt against Mozambique, so he could equal the record. They will continue to fight to see who reaches 100 wins first. Spain could play eight games during the next 33 days, and Egypt seven.
game 130: Iker could play his 130th game against South Korea, moving him past Jorge Campos and tying Edwin van der Sar. Only three goalkeepers have played more games with their national teams: Mohamed Al-Deayea (178), Thomas Ravelli (143) and Lee Won Jae (131). The first two are already retired and the third renounced playing with his national team after the South Africa World Cup.
24 years without losing: Spain has not lost a friendly played as a preparatory game for the Eurocopa, World Cup or Confederations Cup in the last 24 years. The last loss was to Sweden (1-3) on June 1, 1988, on the way to the Eurocopa in Germany. From that time, Spain’s record is 15 wins and three ties.
May is great: Spain has not lost a game in the month of May (both friendlies and official games) in the last 36 years, since losing to Germany 0-2 on May 22, 1976. From that point on, the balance is eight wins and five losses in all games played during the month of May.
neutral grounds: Spain has won every single friendly it has ever played on neutral ground (a total of six). The first one was played in Geneva on June 7, 2006 against Croatia (2-1).
domination against Asians: Spain has never lost against an Asian rival after nine games (four of them against South Korea). The balance is seven wins and two ties, with 15 goals in favor and five against.
South Korea: out of the Asian teams, this is the only team that has managed to tie Spain (two ties and two losses in four games): 3-1 in the 1990 World Cup, 2-2 in the 1994 World Cup, 0-0 in the 2002 World Cup and 1-0 in a friendly ahead of the South Africa World Cup.
we like Switzerland: Spain has never lost a game played in Switzerland; the balance is 10 wins and two ties. Eleven of the 12 games were friendlies; the exception is the 1958 World Cup qualifier against Switzerland on Nov. 24, 1957, which Spain won 4-1.
no barcelonistas: the last time Spain played two straight games without any Barcelona players was 31 years ago, between March and June 1981. There were no Barcelona players in the games against England on March 25, 1981, Hungary on April 15, 1981 and Portugal on June 20, 1981. Spain won the first game and lost the other two.
Negredo: Negredo has won all eight games he’s played with Spain. He’s the third player in the history of La Roja to win his first eight games as an international, after Raúl Albiol (who won his first 27 games) and Sergio Busquets (who won his first 13 games).
only one loss for Albiol: Raúl Albiol has won 31 out of the 32 games he’s played with Spain. The only loss was on Aug. 10, 2011 against Italy (1-2).
On Tuesday morning, the team traveled by bus from Schruns to Bern. Later that day, Spain trained for one hour in the Stade de Suisse, and Sergio Ramos was able to complete the training session after missing out on the last one due to back pain. VDB tried out Nacho Monreal and Beñat, neither of whom made the final cut, on the starting team; he had confirmed earlier that they would start, along with Pepe Reina. Javi García’s parents were at the stadium to support their son and watch him play today.
The four “new” players also posed together.
Press conferences and statements.
At his press conference prior to the training session, VDB had said that Spain would not make the error of going into the Eurocopa thinking that things are going to be easy for them since they’re the current European and world champions: “we have a group that knows football. They’re not just starting out. They know that football is a very short career and so we have to achieve all the successes we can. The past doesn’t count. We won’t make the mistake of believing that things will be easy for us since we won two years ago. They know the reality of football.”
The coach also spoke about having to tell certain players that they didn’t make the final list: “of course it was tough to communicate that to them but I told them that at least they would leave here with two caps. They are hurt inside but they accepted it with sportsmanship and I’m sure they have defused the situation. I’ve spent many years of my life in this national team and these were some of the toughest moments we’ve experienced.” As for the criticism, “it’s impossible to make everyone happy because football is so debatable.”
In regards to playing against South Korea again, “a clear error by the referee prevented us from entering into the semifinals [of the 2002 World Cup]. It was a bad day for Spanish football, who knows how far we could have gotten. No one has forgotten this, not the coach back then [Camacho, whom Spain will face on June 3], not the players and not those who were there.”
Xabi and Pepe Reina were the players chosen to speak to the press. Xabi spoke about adapting his style to the team: “the first thing you have to know is who you’re playing with and the first thing you have to do is adapt to the system and the style of play, because they’re different. My function changes a bit depending on who I have next to me. I have spoken with the míster about what he wants from me and about the liberty he gives me to interpret the play and make opportune decisions. It’s different, but I feel comfortable on both teams.” He also said physically he’s good [oh yes, he is] and coming to the national team helps him to “disconnect” a bit.
Meanwhile, Pepe Reina said he speaks daily with David Villa and “I really want to give him a hug because I haven’t seen him in a while. We speak everyday and I’ll be able to give him one soon. The group will miss him as a footballer and as a person.” As for Roberto Soldado, “we went to have a Coca Cola and I told him that I’m sure he will have many opportunities with the national team in the future, that he’ll be coming and that I knew it wasn’t easy for them to continue these four days with us. I also told him to keep his hopes up and to continue fighting.” ¡Grande Pepe!
In the mixed zone after the training session, Juanfran said “I’m very happy that the coach has confidence in me and now I’m the one that has to respond on the field each time he puts me in. I’m the happiest man in the world. I also have to say I’m sad for those teammates who didn’t make it. I’ve coincided with Roberto on many occasions, also with Domínguez, Adrián, and I know that all of them deserve to go. Domínguez and Adrián will have the opportunity to play in the Olympics and I’m sure they will bring back a medal for us.” And Beñat revealed that “I’m not disappointed to miss out because I knew how complicated it was going to be, although of course you always have the hope of being one of the 23. I’m very content and grateful to be here. It’s been a very beautiful experience and I want to highlight that the group is great both on and off the field.”
As for jersey numbers, Pedro has chosen to be Spain’s “7” at the tournament, while Juanfran will wear the “5.” Jordi Alba will take the “18” that Pedro has vacated, and Santi Cazorla will be sporting his usual “20,” pushing Javi (!!!) to “4.” The only other change from the World Cup team is Álvaro Negredo taking the “11.”
And Fernando Llorente spent the day in Roland Garros, cheering on his friend Rafa Nadal.
As for the U-21 team, they traveled to Tallinn on Tuesday (I wonder which of them was reading the Cuore?), where they’ll play Estonia on Thursday at 18h in a 2013 U-21 Euro qualifier. They held a light training session in the capital, during which some of them were camera shy.