day 28 – all set for Croatia!
June 17, 2012.
We are all set for our last game in the group stage (20:45h vs. Croatia)! Hopefully Juanín will have a chance to show just how strong he is, no? And that expression on Fernando Torres’ face… they’re adorable.
Spain will end up first in the group if it wins; if it ties Croatia and Italy does not win; if it ties Croatia and scores at least two goals; or if the result is 1-1 and Italy does not beat Ireland 5-1 or more. Spain will be second if it ties Croatia 0-0 and Italy beats Ireland, or if it loses and Italy does not win. Spain will be eliminated only if it loses and Italy beats Ireland. Bottom line: we’re going for a win.
The training session.
In the 15 minutes that the session was open to the press, the photographers got many great photos, and everyone watched as the team went through their usual exercises, from the warm-up to the rondos. However, the highlight was of course the exercises designed by Javi Miñano that required hand holding, because this was the result.
We also had Sergio being the goalkeeper (I see why Álvaro Negredo said he was the best one) and fooling around with El Chori. Then came time for some other exercise, where I guess the boys had to listen to Javi Miñano and not do a certain thing. Fer, however, fell into the trap and had to do push-ups as a punishment.
Both here and above, you can see how Gerard Piqué made sure that everyone knew that Floris messed up, with the help of a little shouting and pointing.
Karma got him back though, because during another exercise, Piqué messed up and Xavi was the one who ratted him out. I love Piqué’s reaction! It looks like Gerard had to do a lot of push-ups on Sunday.
Spanish training sessions always look so fun, no? I would love to take part, especially the hand holding and the hugging!
I think the boys spent more time on the ground than they did standing up. It even amused Vicente!
All aboard the Chori train.
The press conferences.
Fernando Torres, Pepe Reina and Santi Cazorla spoke to the press in Gdansk, after the team traveled to the city in the afternoon.
Torres on whether he feels this is his moment with the national team: it’s the moment of everyone, we all feel important and hopefully the best team will be Spanish. Xavi and Iniesta are having a great tournament and the forwards only need to take advantage of their great performances. We all dream of being important, I was lucky to be the protagonist in Vienna, but the only thing I want to see is Iker lifting up the Cup.
Cazorla on the porra: no, none of us have put a 2-2. We all put a win for Spain. That’s what we believe in and that’s what we’re going to come out to do. The important thing is that tomorrow we qualify, and so the porra will be relegated to the background.
Cazorla on not getting many minutes: I’ve always said I’m privileged to be here, it’s very difficult to enter into the starting XI and so I have to wait for an opportunity and continue working, I hope I can play, and if not, I’ll contribute from the outside.
I love everyone’s team spirit!
While answering questions from the press, VDB replied forcefully, without raising his voice, as he always does. Once again, there were journalists that wanted to know if the team had agreed with Croatia to force a 2-2 tie for the game, which would eliminate Italy no matter how many times that has already been denied. VDB said, “I have not thought even one second about this possibility. To keep speaking about the same issue doesn’t not help anything in this sport. I believe absolutely in fair play. I would never understand about agreeing on an outcome. And I’m sure Croatia thinks the same. It’s obvious that we have a spirit of sportsmanship.”
Our coach also spoke about how feeling superior can be extremely dangerous: “confidence has never been good in sports. In football, feeling superior is very dangerous. In response to all of these good words that we’re receiving, we can only go on the defensive and prepare ourselves for difficulties. Football teaches you things constantly. We saw that in the semifinals of the Champions League or yesterday, when no one could have predicted that Russia and Poland would be eliminated.”
He also highlighted the role of the substitutes: “they’re important for the team to be a good group, they’re more important than it appears. Thanks to them, the group functions very well.”
Iker posted this photo of him, Sergio Ramos and Silvinho (as Sergio put it) “following what is happening on the third matchday of Group B.”
Raúl Albiol had a very sweet tweet: “today, one year ago, I married the woman of my life and the mother of my two daughters… our first anniversary… I’m very happy by your side. I love you a lot.” How loving! And happy anniversary!
Continuing on this wavelength, Álvaro Negredo told EFE that even though he hasn’t played any minutes in the Eurocopa, he’s fine and “the presence of my wife and my daughter in Gdansk helps. I spent the free time after the games with them and they fill me with encouragement. I have to continue working hard to get my opportunity, and to be ready when the míster decides the time is right.”
Negredo was also asked about losing to Albiol-Arbeloa at Play: “they’re taking advantage of us because Mata and I have never played together before. They chose us because of that and so they’re beating us. We’re going to practice during our free hours to get revenge. The truth is that we’re having a great time in those moments, when we try and forget about football for a bit. The atmosphere is great.”
Sergio was interviewed by El País. Highlights:
on whether he dreamed about being a world and league champion when he was small: no way. I was a kid from the neighborhood, from a humble and hardworking family. I didn’t dream about playing with Madrid, about being the second captain, about being proud to have played 88 games… it’s something that surpasses the dreams of a kid.
on why he cut his hair: it was to have a change. Life is full of cycles, stages, and I believe image is important to symbolize that. I’ve been lucky enough to be a champion of Europe and of the world playing as a fullback with long hair and now that I’m playing as a centerback, I believed it was better to play with short hair.
on those who say he’s a good person, not cocky: I try to be good and I don’t believe I’m cocky. What happens is that I’m tall, from Sevilla… they apply stereotypes and… those who know me know that I’m noble.
on being a leader: I’m not uncomfortable being a leader. Bit by bit, you become one. Experience helps you to mature. When you play many games, you become a veteran and that helps you to grow. There are new people coming in, and so you are required to help them. It’s not enough to just watch, listen and learn. I’m fine with it. Knowing you are an example for young players makes you responsible. I’ve taken on this role with pleasure.
on Piqué: bit by bit, and via the training sessions, we’re learning to understand each better and to play with more harmony and synchronization. We aren’t used to playing together, but we can be a pair that gives the national team many years together. What happens is that people talk… I’ve never gotten along poorly with Piqué! I get along well with him, just like I do with Xavi, Busi, David, Andrés or Pedro. There was a lot at stake during the season. There was a lot of tension, a flaring up of tempers when you’re playing for a title… that’s the way it is and what happened happened. But Piqué and I are professionals and we’re old enough to put that nonsense aside.
on Puyol: I admire Puyol. He’s an example as a centerback and as a teammate, but Puyol is Puyol and I’m Sergio Ramos and I’m happy to be who I am and to get as far as I can from my effort. But Carles is a footballer that you always want to learn from.
on whether he’d be a footballer or a bullfighter, if he could start all over again: footballer. There’s no doubt. The truth is that I’m probably the biggest fan of bullfighting on the team. I like it a lot. But for what football has given me, I’d choose it again in the next 100 lives.