day 31 – preparing for France!
June 20, 2012.
It’s been one month since the concentración began! It’s gone by pretty fast, no? And we are right where we want to be at this point, still in contention for the Eurocopa! On Wednesday morning, the players returned to the team hotel after getting the previous afternoon and night off to spend with families and friends. Four players, including Andrés Iniesta and Víctor Valdés, spoke to the press at mid-day, and there was a training session in the afternoon.
This is the moment when VV is returning from giving the press conference, only to pass by Andresito being interviewed by Cuatro. VV starts shouting “what a great player! Iniesta!” and clapping. He’s then teased about the drug testing, and responds by saying that he’s pissed enough for three days. Before he leaves, he manages to toss more praise Andrés’ way. Love them together!
The training session.
During the first 50 minutes of the afternoon training session, the entire team trained together, although they were divided into smaller groups for the rondos. For the first time in Gniewino, the team did exercises aimed at refining their attacking skills.
After the first 50 minutes, all of the starters except Fernando Torres ended the session, did some stretching and headed back to the hotel. The rest of the players plus Fernando continued training for about half an hour more, practicing shooting at the goal. Juanfran and Jesús provided the crosses from the right and Pedro and Juan Mata from the left and the forwards (including the false one) – took turns shooting at Iker, Pepe and VV. Negredo put the most number of balls in the back of the net. Cazorla, Javi (!!!) and Raúl Albiol were also present, and at the end of the session when they practiced shooting free kicks, Raúl Albiol scored a golazo past Víctor Valdés, which earned him an ovation from the others and some jokes from Pepe Reina.
The press conference.
Jesús Navas and Víctor Valdés spoke to the press.
Navas on being the number 12: I have a lot of confidence, as do my teammates and I always try to give as much as I can whenever I come out. The most important thing is the group, the collective, and the union that there is inside the locker room.
Navas on Spain vs. France in the 2006 World Cup: it was a tough game, but we’ve changed a lot since then. We have a lot of desire to play this game on Saturday and to qualify for the semifinals so that the dream of winning the title can continue.
Valdés on all the criticism directed at VDB: I don’t understand or share the criticism directed at the míster. The truth is that in football, sometimes, things can go well or not so well for you. It’s true that the rivals know us a bit more and you have to take into account that the rival also has things at stake. The priority is to beat France in the quarterfinals. Regardless of whether they play well or poorly, the rival can create problems for you and I believe the coach has made the right decision in everything since he assumed that position. We all have to join together for the good of this team.
Valdés on the míster: I believe he’s tranquil with regards to everything, including how we are working and facing the games. He wants to isolate us from everything that’s being said. I don’t believe there is any problem in this aspect. As I said before, the rival is also playing and Croatia planned a game to create problems and that’s how it went. He’s protecting the group and transmitting a positive message to us: while we stay true to our style, we can achieve good results.
Valdés on his role on the national team: I’ve said since I came that I knew what my role was. I’ve always been a professional, I owe it to my teammates, to a coach that had confidence in me and for the good of everything, that is my role. The day that I’m called to participate, I’ll do it in the best way I can.
Valdés on Iker: there are not many things I can say to Casillas that I haven’t already said. I’m not surprised by how well he and the defense are doing. That’s why I can only congratulate him, like I do whenever I can, although lately I’ve had to go to anti-doping and so I wasn’t able to after the games. I would like UEFA to at least let me go to the locker room to shake my teammates’ hands. [Jajaja!!!!]
More interviews & other things.
Andrés Iniesta and Álvaro Arbeloa were the other players sent out to speak to the press. By the time Andrés did that interview with Cuatro, he had already spoke to eight or nine media outlets. He told Cuatro that he thinks Spain has played well, and so the criticism directed towards Spain is unfounded.
Meanwhile, he told SER’s “El Larguero” that his family is so optimistic and has so much faith that they’re not coming to watch him play in the quarterfinals, because they’re waiting for the semifinals (Francisco Navas, Jesús’ father, had also said that he’ll be coming for the final). Andrés was once again asked about the Oliver photos, and he said “I watched a lot of Oliver and Benji while growing up, who didn’t?” As for his wine, Andrés said all of his teammates who had said it was fantastic during the Q&As were lying! How modest! And with regards to his wedding, he says practically all the preparations have been completed, and that none of his Real Madrid teammates from the national team will be there because of the date, and “many people will be missing.”
He also said he likes to collect shirts, and so he has a nice collection from the players he’s exchanged shirts with. As for the porra, Andrés said he doesn’t remember who he predicted would make the final – alongside Spain of course, was it France? Italy? – because he’s been descending as he didn’t predict the groups stage well and so now he doesn’t pay attention to it. The presenters also asked Andrés about little Valeria, and he says he and his family try to speak each night after dinner, and that she does recognize her papá when she sees him on TV, saying papá, papá! Have a listen here.
Álvaro Arbeloa spoke to COPE, during which he revealed that for the porra, he had predicted a Spain-France final. With regards to all the criticism directed towards him, he said that you have to know how to accept all the criticism, both good and bad, and in the end the most important thing is self-criticism and what you think of yourself and what your coach thinks of you. They ended with the habitual test. Have a listen here.
Would you be capable of explaining to us what is the risk premium in 10 seconds? In 10 seconds, no. It’s up to you to take the last penalty in the final, who is the last person you think of? ¡Puf! I don’t know. If the king comes into the locker room after you win the title, who would tell the joke about the elephant? I’m sure it will be Sergio Ramos. “It’s not normal to sell an image of perfection because no one is perfect.” Who said this and about whom was it said? Mourinho, about life, about everyone. When you have doubts, you… (laughs) The most busty one, no? (it’s a saying that rhymes in Spanish – “ante la duda… la más tetuda.”) Why are football players always seen on television spitting on the field after missing a goal? I don’t know, it’s not only when we miss a goal, it’s a mania that we often have in many moments. What country was the current pope born in? Poland, no? Could this be one of the three worst interviews you’ve ever done? No, no, no. I’ve had many worse ones.
In declarations to COPE’s “El Partido de las 12,” Zinedine Zidane was asked about Andrés Iniesta. When the interviewers compared them by saying that they both don’t have a lot of hair, Zidane responded that Iniesta reminds him of himself, but “a bit whiter.” He also said that Iniesta is so good that he could even play as the goalkeeper. Have a listen here.
Apparently, Iker and Xavi will present Xabi Alonso, who will play in his 100th game with La Roja against France, with a Spain shirt bearing his name and the number 100 on the back. The RFEF prepared a video following Xabi at the training session yesterday.
Juanfran was the latest guest on the Adidas set. He told them that he’s more than prepared to debut – physically and mentally, with a lot of desire for it to happen. Juanfran also explains that he’s called “Rayo McQueen” (Lightning McQueen from Cars – take a look at his twitter) because several of his Atleti teammates (Adrián and Diego Godín) thought he was as fast as the car from the movie and so they gave him this nickname.