day 13 – all set for China!
June 2, 2012.
Sevilla couldn’t be a more perfect place for Spain to play their last warm-up game before the Eurocopa (against China, 22h – not exactly a good hour for those fans in China, no?), not only because two of the players are from there, but because out of the 42 games Spain has played in Sevilla, La Roja has won 34 and tied five, losing only three. The majority of the games have been official ones, qualifiers for the Eurocopa or the World Cup. In Sevilla, Spain has scored 116 goals and only allowed 17.
The team left Madrid bright and early on Saturday morning to fly to Sevilla, arriving a little before noon at the San Pablo airport. Vicente del Bosque, Sergio Ramos and Xavi Hernández then headed to the Fundación Cruzcampo to give their press conferences, while the rest of the team went to their hotel, the Alfonso XIII.
The press conferences.
The second captain and one of the sevillanos were chosen to speak to the press. Xavi was asked how he was physically. He responded, “I’m very good and very content, full of expectations and physically good. Yesterday I participated in my first training session, I played the final of the Copa del Rey and I was already feeling good during the last game of the Liga season. I’m prepared to compete, to make history once again with the national team. I’m happy and I’m feeling great physically.” Xavi also said the team would like to “pass into history as the first team in the world to achieve the triplete (Eurocopa, World Cup, Eurocopa in a row),” although he added that he knows how difficult it will be.
As for Sergio, he told the press that “football doesn’t have a memory, we have achieved super important things and the truth is the key to that success has been humility and hard work. We’re convinced that we can achieve it but we need to work hard and be patient.” That was actually his response to a question about how he feels to be back home, so he ended his discourse with “returning home and being able to say goodbye to your people in your land is always very positive.” In response to another question about whether the mindset is different since Spain is now defending the title, Sergio said, “we know the label of favorites is inevitable. The key to success was always starting from zero and respecting the rivals. Humility is the base that we’ve built on over the last several years.”
In his press conference, VDB was asked about the recent arrivals, those players from Barcelona and Athletic, and whether they would play any minutes in the game. He responded, “they’ve had six or seven days of rest and I don’t think that will be a handicap. I believe everyone is in good condition, and I’m sure we will count on some of them to play during the game.” As for Cesc, the coach said he will be rejoining the group soon and hopefully be ready to play by June 10.
VDB’s opposite tonight on the Chinese bench will be his former teammate José Antonio Camacho, and so the coach was asked if he feels anything special. VDB replied, “it appears strange to me that he’s coming with the Chinese national team. In this good moment that Spanish football is currently experiencing, the fact that there are people working outside of our borders is a recognition for our football. The position of Chinese national team coach is very important. In addition, he’s very happy, he’s a positive man and he’s doing an excellent job.”
The training session.
The training session took place later that afternoon at La Cartuja, with the team training for about 75 minutes. Based on VDB’s tactical decisions, it appears that Sergio Busquets, Fernando Torres and Álvaro Negredo may be starting the game, as they formed part of the theoretical starting team during the partidillo. The result of that game was 3-3, with hometown and home crowd favorite Jesús Navas scoring twice and Pedro once for the theoretical substitutes, and Fernando Torres twice and Xabi once for the theoretical starters.
Cesc was the only player that did not train with the group; he was seen running and doing exercises with Hugo Camarero off to the side under the watchful eye of Dr. Cota.
José Antonio Camacho also paid a visit to his former team, giving VDB and the players hugs. He was especially affectionate with Iker Casillas and Xavi, whom he had coached with the national team (he had also been Iker’s coach for a short spell at Real Madrid), as well as Juanfran, his charge during his time at Osasuna. Camacho will be the first former coach that La Roja has faced.
By the way, 12 years ago today, it was precisely Camacho who gave Iker his debut with the Spanish national team, in a friendly against Sweden in the run-up to the Eurocopa of 2000. Iker didn’t end up playing in that tournament, but we all remember this day as the day his legendary career with La Roja began.
According to AS, the federation has formally invited David Villa and Carles Puyol to join the concentración of the team in Poland, and has offered the services of the medical team to help them continue with their recovery processes. David and Carles spent the first day of the concentración with the team, and will apparently also travel to Sevilla today for the game.
In an interview with EFE, Álvaro Negredo talked about what he felt when he heard his name on the final list. He said, “I was nervous because didn’t know anything about what the coach was going to decide. Until the last moment, I didn’t expect to see myself on the list of call-ups and I didn’t feel this relief until that moment. I’m happy because this is a dream come true, one that I’ve been waiting for for a long time. At last I have achieved it and now I have set new goals for myself. I hope I can be important and help Spain to be successful once again.” Negredo also said he thought of his daughter and wife at the moment he heard his name, as well as his parents, his brothers and his friends who have always been there for him, in both the good and bad moments, supporting him when he most needed it.
And once again, we see what a great group of players we have, since Álvaro also revealed that Roberto Soldado was the first one to congratulate him on making the final list: “the first one to congratulate me was Roberto Soldado, even though it was a tough moment for him. I wished him all the luck in the world, knowing how difficult it was for him to return home after the year he’s had.”
In an interview with El País, Xavi spoke about many things including his first ball, his addiction to football, Luis Aragonés and what a great guy Iker Casillas is.
on his first ball: it was a white Mikasa with black triangles. But I suppose I had played before with my brothers. What I do remember well are the boots, a pair of Cejudo Valencias. And the day that I received the Patrick Silvers! I had the feeling that they played by themselves. My cousin Rene got the Keegan ones and we were the cracks.
on his addiction to football: I’ve always been addicted to football, even with my collection of trading cards. What I remember the most was the excitement with which I faced the World Cup, I remember perfectly the collection of cards from 1994 and especially, I don’t know why, those of the Romanians and the Bulgarians. I made notebooks and I wrote, “famous players in the world” and organized them by countries. And in the end, I created the perfect national team: Schmeichel, Cafú, Maldini, Baresi and I don’t know who else… I had a great time doing this by myself. Now I think, “are there other kids that do the same?”
on Aragonés: he’s fundamental in my career and in La Roja. He gave me control of the national team when I wasn’t even in control in Barcelona. I decided to return the confidence he had in me on the field. If I was the best in the Eurocopa, it was because of him. In the movie that the federation made, people will see he is the one behind all of this. He was the one who marked the road, who gave this style to Spain. Luis saw what there was and placed his bets on los bajitos. He was a pioneer on the national team and he was intelligent.
on Iker and the confrontations between Madrid and Barça: we fixed everything with Iker, with the míster. Thanks to God, Iker is a proper person and there are coherent people in Barça. Iker had a bad time of it, I’ve known him for many years and I knew that there would be no problems with him, but we had to speak because things were going too far. We have the same relationship we had before: some get along better with others, but I think it was good to sit down with Del Bosque and speak about it.