day 37 – all set for Portugal!
June 26, 2012.
Are you ready for the Eurocopa semifinal against Portugal (20:45h Spain time, 21:45h local time)? I’ve gotten used to being champions of Europe and I would like for it to stay that way! ¡Vamos España!
Stats, facts & records.
Via Mr. Chip at AS.
Unbeaten in the semifinals: Spain has never lost a semifinal in the Eurocopa or the World Cup. Until this moment, the record is a perfect 4-0. The national team beat Hungary in 1964, Denmark in 1984, Russia in 2008 and Germany in 2010.
Old enemy: Portugal is the rival that Spain has faced the most number of times in its history. The balance of the 34 Iberian derbies is 16-12-6 for Spain. The six Portuguese victories all took place in Portugal. However, Spain has only beaten Portugal twice in their 12 last games (the record is 2-6-4). The last game was played on Nov. 17, 2010 and Portugal won that one 4-0, the worst Spanish defeat in 49 years (since a 2-6 vs. Scotland in the Bernabéu on June 13, 1963).
Recordman Casillas: our resident saint has played 11 games in the knockout stage of the Eurocopa and World Cup and has only received goals in two of those games. Out of the 144 players he has faced in these games, only four have managed to score on him: Robbie Keane (2002), Ribery (2006), Vieira (2006) and Zidane (2006). Since Zidane’s goal, Iker has gone 780 minutes (13 hours) without allowing a single goal in the knockout stage of the Eurocopa and World Cup. In addition, Iker could become the first player in the history of football to reach 100 wins with his country. He’s played 135 games with Spain, with a 99-23-13 record (that’s a 73 percent win record, which is three percent lower than Xavi’s world topping 76.1 percent record – 86 wins in 113 games).
Good streaks: Spain has not lost in 10 games in the Eurocopa, since the 1-0 to Portugal in the group stage of the 2004 Eurocopa. If Spain doesn’t lose today, it will become the first country in the history of the tournament to play 11 consecutive games without losing. In addition, Cesc and Iniesta have notched up 10-game non-losing streaks in the Eurocopa. Only three players had a better streak: Thuram (13), Zidane (13) and Lizarazu (11).
The referee: La Roja has never lost a game overseen by a Turkish referee (four wins and a tie).
Real Madrid: seven Real Madrid players should start the game today: Casillas, Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Xabi Alonso, Pepe, Coentrão and Cristiano. It will only be the second time in the history of the Eurocopa where a club had seven starters in a semifinal game. That occurred with Dinamo Kiev in 1988.
The team said goodbye to Gniewino at 06:30h, when they boarded a bus to Gdansk, from where they took a two and a half hour flight to Donetsk. The team touched down at around 11:30h (Spain time), and then headed to the Kirsha Training Center, property of Shakhtar Donetsk, where they would train and stay.
The training session.
The team trained four about one hour on Tuesday evening. At the end of the session, the players practiced penalties.
The press conferences.
Andrés Iniesta, Álvaro Arbeloa and Álvaro Negredo spoke to the press (another A team!).
Iniesta on the team’s style: in football, we can’t all like the same thing or always be in agreement. There is a diversity of opinions. For us, the style that we have is the one that has brought us success and the one with which we have won titles. It’s our way, there’s no other way. All opinions are respectable, they could be welcome. But when a team doesn’t want to attack, when a rival is closed, it’s clear that the football is not as attractive as when you want to go and win. We can’t forget that it’s the manner that has given us success, one that we identify with and one which changed the history of Spain in a good way two years ago.
Iniesta on Miki Roqué: we will be thinking about him and his family, who has suffered this loss. Hopefully we can dedicate this qualification for the final and this Eurocopa to him.
Arbeloa on the responsibility of shutting down Cristiano Ronaldo: it’s a beautiful fight and I’ve always liked to face the best. It’s a great challenge for all the players… They [Cristiano, Pepe, Coentrão] will be my enemies tomorrow… but in the end, it’s just a game. The relationship with my teammates from Madrid will continue to be good.
Negredo on Iniesta: above all, he’s a great person. As a player, we all know what he’s like, he has so much quality. He shakes things up. He gets the ball and he attacks the rivals and that makes him different. [This prompted Iniesta to smile and say “thank you,” which made both Álvaros laugh.]
Negredo on Cristiano and his free kicks: we don’t have any plan against that or anything like that, and we know that he’s a great free kick taker, but we have the best goalkeeper in the world, one who knows him well and will know how to stop him, no?
During his press conference, Vicente del Bosque said, “we want to reach the top and we have to eliminate a great team. We will try and deactivate Cristiano Ronaldo, the best example we have is from the last World Cup, which gave us a good result. It’s what we will try and do tomorrow, with other players, but the idea will be the same.” As for the performance of his team in this tournament, VDB said, “I’m happy that we have a team that is very appreciated and which generates affection. I feel happy because we are a team.”
Betis published a touching letter written about Miki Roqué by his doctor at the Institut Universitari Dexeus, Ricard Valdés, who is Víctor’s brother. Read it here. Carles Puyol attended Miki’s funeral yesterday in Tremp, while Beñat was one of the pallbearers.
Cuatro has an interview with Cesc, during which he reveals that VDB only tells the team who will be playing in the pre-game chat, which takes place at around 18:50h, and that the first people he tells if he finds out he’s playing are his parents and girlfriend. In this interview with COPE, David Silva says VDB announces the list orally (I think everyone was curious as to how the players find out whether they’re playing or not). You can also watch an interview with Xabi here, including the test he did with COPE. And “El Partido de las 12” also spoke to Álex Soler and Manuel García, which you can listen to here. They both say their grandsons are content, and that they (the abuelos) arehappy with the way Spain is playing and winning.