days 34 & 35 – to the semifinals!
Spain beat France for the first time in an official game! And Xabi Alonso couldn’t have had a better 100th game with the national team – reaching that number was already an achievement in and of itself, and then he had to go score twice, lead his team to victory and qualify his country for the semifinals as well. Muy, muy jefe.
Xabi was head and shoulders above everyone else, and not just literally…
June 23, 2012 – in case you missed it.
ONE. Prior to the game, everyone seemed to have something to say to Cesc. First it was the midfielders, and then the defenders.
TWO. Has Sergio’s hair grown on you yet? Are you now used to seeing him with short hair?
THREE. The pre-game huddle/mini pep rally has become a tradition.
It’s not surprising that Xavi looks to be in charge, no?
FOUR. It was a lot hotter in Donetsk than it was in Gniewino/Gdansk, so the boys made sure they kept cool and hydrated.
FIVE. ¡Gol de Xabi Alonso!
Nagore, Xabi’s wife, tweeted, “one for Jon and the other for Ane!”
After the game, Xabi gave Jordi all the credit for the goal. That assist really was sublime!
I love the reaction of the bench, and how the doctors and fisios are hugging each other!
SIX. Iker was his usual bossy and in charge self during the game. And this is how he lived the penalty shot.
You know, I kept thinking Hugo Lloris was Iker, because I’m so used to seeing Iker in yellow with Madrid (and with La Roja as well), because Lloris also wears the number one and is the captain, and because he’s left-footed just like our Iker.
SEVEN. Xabi continued being muy jefe even after the game. He exchanged shirts with Karim Benzema (I wonder how Karim came to the decision as to which of his club teammates to exchange shirts with…) and then wore it inside out as he strolled around the field, hugging teammates, accepting congratulations and doing post-game interviews.
I know it’s difficult to take your eyes off of Xabi, but look out for Andrés Iniesta hitting Javi (!!!) on the back of his head.
EIGHT. More post-game scenes. Iker went around hugging his teammates…
… and also gave his gloves away to two lucky fans. I love the moment where he caught the shirt – after all, that’s his specialty, no? Meanwhile, Jordi Alba received the congratulations of his proud parents.
After the game, Sergio gave his mother his shirt, and that made her cry. Later on, he tweeted, “feeling the affection of your family on the field is priceless. Thank you family. I love you all. Giving a kiss to my mother.”
NINE. The Xabi Alonso pose section.™
Only Xabi Alonso can score goals while perfectly posed.
By the way, Xabi lost three kilos in the 90 minutes, due to all the work he put in, plus the high temperatures in Donetsk.
See what I mean about perfectly posed?
TEN. After the game, Iker said, “we’ve taken one more step forward. The team celebrated and there was rejoicing. It’s a moment to enjoy, because it’s our third consecutive semifinal in a big event.” Meanwhile, Xavi said, “Spain was superior to France. We didn’t seen an excellent Spain, but we played the game we needed to qualify. The team played well together and we played a very mature game. Defensively, they didn’t create many problems for us.” He added, “others respect us more and more, we dominated the ball, it’s an nonnegotiable philosophy. We’re happy to pass on to the semifinals, and it’s a joy for all Spaniards.”
In his man of the match press conference, Xabi was asked: “in England, we were not used to seeing you scoring with your head…” At this point, Xabi interrupted to say, “me neither, not in England, not in Spain” (that’s the gif on the left). The interviewer (an English man) continued, “when was your last headed goal, and have you scored for Spain with your head before?” Xabi then responded, “let me think, I can’t remember… No, I haven’t had many, so it’s a good question, and so you have to check in Wikipedia or wherever, and probably even with Real Sociedad and Liverpool I haven’t scored like that, so I’m really pleased with what happened today.” So boss!!!! And that beard stroking… he’s perfection.
ELEVEN. The forest corner.
In his post-game press conference, Vicente del Bosque spoke about why he chose to play Cesc as a false nine again: “I have confidence in Cesc. We have three great forwards that allow us to have continuity in play. I see Cesc playing well and I don’t have to give any more of an explanation.” VDB was also proud of his team’s performance: “we controlled everything well at all times. Iker barely had anything to do and that says the defense played very well.”
TWELVE. Other things.
None of the five players with yellow cards – Álvaro Arbeloa, Jordi Alba, Xabi, Fernando Torres or Javi Martínez (who didn’t play) – received another one, so they can all play in the semifinal game. The cycle of sanctions will be wiped away in the next round, meaning that if any of these players receive a yellow card in the semifinal game, they won’t be suspended for the final. The only way to be suspended is to get sent off.
There were many former and current club teammates reunited before and after this game.
Many of the players’ family members made it to Donetsk, such as the relatives of Pedro, Jordi Alba, Álvaro Negredo, Javi Martínez (!!!), Fernando Llorente, Sergio Ramos, as we can see in this picture and this video. I love how Miriam and Chus held up their brothers’ jerseys!
Sergio shared this picture of him and Iker during the morning paseo (it was taken by Jesús Navas).
Sergio also gave us this artistic photo of him looking at the stadium from his hotel room, while Cesc tweeted a photo of him and Andresito waiting to return to Gniewino.
Speaking of that, Spain returned to Gniewino after the game, and VDB gave his players Sunday off.
And national treasure Rafa Nadal posted this photo of him watching the game!
June 24, 2012 – R&R.
Some of the players spent the free day in Sopot with their families, while others stayed in Gniewino to rest and recuperate. Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, Busi, VV, PF Juan Mata, Raúl Albiol, Juanfran and Cesc, among others, remained at the hotel and took advantage of the spa and pool zone. They also received massages from the fisios and the readaptor. Many of the players and staff members also gathered to watch Formula 1 and support Fernando Alonso (I guess the lucky streak of persons with last name Alonso continued!), as well as the last Eurocopa quarterfinal game between Italy and England.
Raúl Albiol gave us several photos from Sunday, including this one of a “magician that I’ve known since I was 14.” It makes me smile to think about Raúl and David as 14-year-old friends! He also tweeted this one that had PF Juan Mata and Juanfran as well. Pobrecitos… three of the four haven’t made their Eurocopa debuts yet.
El Chori also tweeted that he beat Juanfran 6-2, 6-2 at tennis, although he lost a game of 21 in basketball, as he played quite poorly. In response, Juanfran tweeted, “I’m very poor at tennis but in basket I beat you good!” He added, “Air ⚡” for his nickname. These photos are really adorable, no?
And Javi (!!!) was busy being a pirate.
By the way, Cuatro did the “one minute without football” test with Javi (!!!) the other day and this is the result.
Define yourself. Tall, handsome (laughs), no, not handsome… a normal guy, I like to be in my hometown with my family and friends. As a footballer, I recently became a centerback, I don’t know what to say about myself as a footballer, I prefer for others to answer. How do you spend your free time? Playing Play, spending time with my teammates playing pool, ping pong, watching movies. A movie: Into the Wild. What kind of music do you listen to? Right now, I’m listening to “black” music (R&B, rap, hip hop, etc.). My favorite groups are El Mentón de Fogarty and El Canto del Loco. Tell me something about Poland. It’s very beautiful, I was surprised because there are beautiful places here. Joder, I can’t remember the name of the place I visited the other day, it’s very complicated. “Soporto” or something like that. It’s a country you should visit. What is the risk premium? It’s the fear of Spaniards… and me as well, since I have many family members and friends who are unemployed because of the crisis. Give Rajoy a piece of advice. For Rajoy? Jo, I’m not anyone to give advice. Who do you call at night? I call my parents, although not every day, my friends, I speak with them via WhatsApp, and my girlfriend before I go to sleep. The last compliment you received: Joder, I don’t remember. Why are we going to win this Eurocopa? We will try and win it because we’re the champions of Europe and of the world and we can become champions of Europe again.
Vicente del Bosque’s staff – assistant coach Toni Grande, goalkeeping coach José Manuel Ochotorena, fitness coach Javi Miñano and scout Paco Jiménez – gave a press conference in Gniewino on Sunday.
Toni on Jordi Alba: the progression of Jordi Alba can be seen. I commented to Vicente after the play that led to the first goal that he not only has speed and quality, but he doesn’t act hastily in the center. In this world, there are not many leftbacks like him.
Toni on how the win was celebrated: yes, the win was celebrated, perhaps not on the field, but in the locker room. There were hugs, music, a great atmosphere. There was joy. The game against Croatia was more tense and so there wasn’t this joy.
Toni on those players receiving little or no minutes: we have the immense fortune of having a group that has been united for some time, you only have to see how they train and how much they give. We’re very content with their behavior.
Ochoto on Pepe and Víctor Valdés: the day to day with Reina and Valdés is very satisfactory, what they contribute is outstanding. It’s difficult for goalkeepers who are indisputable starters in their clubs to have to take on a different role with the national team. Iker is playing all the minutes but the work of the two substitutes is fantastic. They bring to the group a quality that we very much appreciate.
Javi Miñano on the physical state of the players: the players have no limits. It’s true that some years ago, we didn’t think that a player could play 5,000 minutes, which is the case with some of these players. I think they are responding well, and that’s why the coach can choose the players he believes will give the best results.
Paco Jiménez on the upcoming game: Portugal is a great team. They have two of the best centerbacks in Europe, a midfield that knows how to pass the ball and an offensive line that knows how to throw you off balance. Portugal is not only Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s a very strong team, and in fact I believe it’s the team that will make things the most complicated for us, for their way of playing and pressuring.
Speaking of staff, here is a interesting look at the work of Toni Guerra, one of the three equipment managers. He speaks about how the team brought 3,000 kilograms of materials and each player brought an average of five pairs of boots on this trip. We get to see how meticulously he has organized the storeroom, and how he prepares the shirts for each player, including embossing them with the name, number and game, and folding them in a set along with other clothes.
And of course, DEP Miki Roqué.
Posted on June 25, 2012, in daily, games and tagged alba, albiol, cesc, iker, in case you missed it, iniesta, javi, juanfran, mata, sergio, silva, toni grande, xabi, xavi. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.