day 20 – all set for Italy!

June 9, 2012.

Sergio was lifting Iker at the training session on Saturday, but hopefully it will be Iker doing all the lifting on July 1!  And to get there, we have to first beat Italy tonight (18h), in our Eurocopa debut (we should take it one step at a time instead of thinking ahead, no?).  It’s finally our turn!  Are you ready to see La Roja in action?

To Gdansk!

The team traveled to Gdansk on Saturday morning.  Upon arrival at the Hotel Gdansk Yachting, the players received flowers, a stuffed lion, and was greeted with bread once again, although this time it didn’t end up in the hands of Fernando Llorente, so he could talk on his telephone tranquilly from his room.

The training session.

On Saturday evening, the team held a training session at Gdansk Arena (remember that Pepe!), the site of tonight’s game.  The first 15 minutes of the hour-long session were open to the press, and in that time, VDB didn’t clear up the mystery surrounding who will be his starting XI tonight, although it appears that the only real unknown is in the forward position.

While Xavi did some stretching…

… the other boys fooled around with each other, or took care of each other.  Is Javi (!!!) helping Jordi with his vest?

The press conference.

Iker, Andrés Iniesta and David Silva spoke to the press for about 15 minutes prior to the training session.  Highlights:

Iker on the relationship between the Madrid and Barça players: if the Eurocopa had been in 2011, it would have been problematic, not because we don’t get along, but because the interests of the two teams overlapped.  Now, in hindsight, the Real Madrid and Barcelona players laugh about it.  In those moments, there were tensions on both sides.  I believe when someone makes a mistake, you have to focus on their positive side, and we’ve all behaved magnificently, we’ve turned the page and now we’re focused on the national team.

Iker on playing in his fourth Eurocopa: in my case, there are still butterflies and that’s good.  It’s a sign of nervousness before a new competition in a final and passionate phase.  We’re the center of attention.  We want to repeat what we accomplished four years ago, and we know that it’s not going to be easy because 15 countries are here to do the same thing we are thinking about.

Iker on the crisis back home: football has been an escape valve for the Spaniards.  But that doesn’t mean more pressure on our shoulders.  We will do it in the most dignified manner so that they’ll be happy with their national team.  We all have commitment, dedication, effort and teamwork for the colors of Spain.

Iniesta on David Silva: I don’t think anyone is discovering now what he contributes and what kind of player he is.  I’ve always said that for me, he’s one of the best players in the world and I want and hope that in this Eurocopa, he can continue doing what he’s done because it would be a good sign for us and for the national team.

Iniesta on the game against Italy four years ago: that game was point of inflection for us, for everyone, for the confidence in this bloc.  I remember that once we were past that game, our confidence in winning the Eurocopa grew a lot and winning that tournament gave us an important stability, which could be seen in the World Cup and we hope to have that until the final.  It will be difficult but we should only focus on the game we have tomorrow, and then take things step by step from that point.

David Silva didn’t get any of the interesting questions, but here’s a photo anyway, since I wouldn’t want to leave him out.

During his press conference, Vicente del Bosque said the team for tonight is all set (he wouldn’t say how), although he had many doubts in the run-up to that decision because “mortals have doubts, and this is especially true when you’re deciding about the 23 players of Spain, since any of them could play.”

Stats and records.

Via Mister Chip and AS, we find out the Italy is the team that Spain has played the third most number of times (29, behind Portugal’s 34 and France’s 30).  The balance is 8-11-10.  Spain has not beat Italy in an official game in the last 92 years (since the 2-0 in the 1920 Olympics); since then, Spain has not scored a single goal in the four ties and five losses.

Spain has played three times in Poland and won all three, Spain hasn’t lost on a Sunday in the last eight years, and if Spain wins today, it will set a new European record for most consecutive wins in official games, 15 (we’re tied at 14 with France and the Netherlands at the moment).  In addition, Spain has only lost its first game of the Eurocopa once in the eight times it played in the tournament, the 0-1 against Norway in 2000.  In 1980, 1984 and 1996, Spain tied, and in 1964, 1988, 2004 and 2008, it won.

As for players, Iker and Fernando Torres could play their ninth Eurocopa game tonight.  In the history of Spain, only Rafael Gordillo has played more games in the tournament (10).  Spain’s 23 players have scored 123 goals for La Roja (Italy’s 23 players have combined only for 46).  And of the 368 players playing in this Eurocopa, only Iker Casillas and Sweden’s Olof Mellberg have played in the last four Eurocopas (2000, 2004, 2008, 2012).

Other things.

The players will stay in Gdansk after the game and have their day off in the city.  They’ll return to Gniewino on Monday afternoon for a training session in the evening.

Arbeloaman and his superhero friends are back!  Remember them?

In an interview with ABC, Xabi Alonso was asked what books he’s currently reading.  The response?  “Decisive Moments in History by Stefan Zweig and always something by (Charles) Bukowski.  I read him a lot and you always have to bring a copy of Factotum in your bag.”  Again, just when you think he can’t get more perfect…  Love the poses too!

En el vestuario…

And Adidas is producing a series of videos entitled “In the locker room of La Roja.”  Installment number one had Iker and Xavi chatting together.  They start off by quizzing each other on Eurocopa history.  A football geek like Xavi has no problems in that kind of thing, but Iker, upon hearing the first question (“who won the first Eurocopa in 1960 and where was it played?”) responded, “joder… vaya pregunta.”  And later on, I love how Xavi pointed to the 1964 on the shirt to show that he knew the answer!  Iker also asked Xavi a question about who the top goalscorer in the competition’s history is, and then he decided to give some hints, even though we all know Xavi knows the answer, because he starts off with “I would like for it to be a Spaniard…”  Iker said, “is it el Guaje Villa, Platini or… (after thinking a bit) Pelé” and then he cracked up because it was so obvious.  I love them!

I love that Iker’s boots have the Spanish flag on them!

They also took questions that fans had left on Adidas’ FB page.  One was about when they started playing together on the national team, and it was adorable how they sort of finished each other’s sentences.  Iker and Xavi have a history dating back to 1997, in the U-17 World Cup in Egypt, where they won the bronze medal after losing to Ghana in the semifinals and beating Germany for third place.  They also played together on the U-17, U-20 and U-21 teams, and were only apart in 2000, when Xavi went to the Olympics and Iker had already been selected for the senior team to play in the 2000 Eurocopa.

Xavi also had the following to say about Iker: “we have the best goalkeeper in the world and he’s shown that on the field many times, during penalties, in actions like the one against Robben in the final of the World Cup.  He continues to show that every day, and he’s already the most capped player in team history.  We have a guarantee in the back.”  As for his personal goals, Xavi said, “I would like to play an attractive style of football so that people can enjoy watching us.  I would like to go down in history for being part of a team that won and marked an era in the history of football.”

Álvaro Negredo is the star of the second installment.  He was also quizzed on the Eurocopa’s history, and asked about his feelings about playing in his first big tournament with the national team.  Alvarito responded that he dreamed a lot about this and feels lucky and privileged.  The rest of the questions weren’t very interesting…

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Posted on June 10, 2012, in daily, interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. iker ans xavi finishing eachother’s sentences like an old married couple.. aww..

  2. Once again, it’s golden to see them together. If you’re going to scan their old videos together, you’ll see how they’ve matured through these years. I love when they reminisce their times together. They really cherish every moment, whether it be good or bad.

  3. eee! that iker/xavi interview is too cute. :D

    i love so much how sergio is like a great big puppy wherever iker is concerned. i have about a dozen photos where he’s either climbing all over him, hugging him, kissing him, playing with him, pestering him for his attention … it’s adorable!

    also? arbeloa is a sexy dork.

  4. Is Iker combing his hair differently now? Either that or maybe he’s losing weight again from the pressure….. anyone else noticing that he looks a little different? Or maybe I’m just delusional!

    Hah, so the answer to the mysterious striker selection question is that there was NO striker at all! Really didn’t like it, although it works fine for Barca. Disappointed with Nando’s performance and that Mata didn’t come on when Torres did.

    Almost had a heart attack when Balotelli skirted Sergio. Thank GOD he had a chance to fix that!!

    Thanks for the bonus pic of Nando’s rear end, Una. It made my (otherwise rainy and a bit disappointing) day. BUT AT LEAST WE GOT A POINT. Better start than the World Cup, eh? Gracias, Fabregas! Vamosssssss!

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