day 41 – all set for Italy!
June 30, 2012.
¡Vamos España! ¡Todos con La Roja! After one month, it’s time to play the final of the Eurocopa! Spain faces Italy at 20:45h tonight in Kiev, looking to further cement its place in history. But no matter what happens, this is still the best team in the world. As Iker said in an interview with El País (worth the read), “we’re like a game of Tetris, all of the pieces fit perfectly.”
Everyone looks so much younger, no?
Stats, facts, records & data.
From Mr. Chip over at AS.
Spain has faced Italy in 30 games. The only teams Spain has played more are Portugal (35) and France (31). The record for these 30 matches is 8-12-10.
Of the 76 national teams Spain has faced since 1920, Italy is one of seven who has more wins than defeats against Spain. Germany, Argentina, Brazil, England, Nigeria and East Germany are the others.
Spain has not beaten Italy in a non-friendly game in the last 92 years (the last win was a 2-0 victory in the 1920 Olympic Games). Italy is also the country Spain has faced the most in final phases: four times in the Olympics, three times in the World Cup, four times in the Eurocopa. The balance of these 11 matches is 1-5-5.
Cesc and Cazorla have played seven times as substitutes in the Eurocopa, tying the Netherlands’ Aaron Winter for the most number of times. If they sub into today’s game, they’ll establish a new record.
Spain will face the same rival twice during one final phase for the fifth time. The other occurrences were Italy in the 1928 Olympics, Italy in the 1934 World Cup, Russia in the 2008 Eurocopa and South Africa in the 2009 Confederations Cup.
Iker has not received a goal in 419 minutes in the Eurocopa. The last goal scored on him was by Di Natale in the first game. Two of the five longest non-scoring streaks in the history of the Eurocopa belong to Iker. The top five are Van der Sar at 541 minutes, Zoff at 494 minutes, Nikopolidis at 424 minutes and Iker at 419 and 416 minutes.
Torres could become the first player to score in two Eurocopa finals.
The press conference.
The federation brought out the two captains for the final press conference at this Eurocopa.
Iker on the differences between 2008 and 2012: I believe we’re facing a different situation than we were four years ago. This Eurocopa represents the continuity of something that was unthinkable in that moment, which is to have the opportunity to win another European title, with the World Cup in between. It’s different but we’re just as excited, not only for the possibility to make history, which we already have, but also to defend the title that we fought so hard for in 2008. That competition allowed for the evolution of this team.
Iker on his friendship with Xavi: it’s true that Xavi and I started playing together 15 years ago, if I remember correctly, when we were 15 or 16. We were promoted through all of the categories both on the national team and with our clubs, and we’ve led parallel lives as footballers. We’re happy because this also shows that young people have the same opportunity as we did and we hope they continue with their progression and continue achieving success, like the U-21 team did last summer in the Eurocopa.
Xavi on the team’s style: for me, it’s fantastic. It does not bore us, and we have a great time with it. It has given us wins. All of the footballers adapt perfectly to it. We place more priority on talent than strength or physical football. We enjoy ourselves, the fans enjoy it and those in the world of football enjoy it. It’s not boring to continue winning, it’s ideal to continue making history in this sport.
At his press conference, Vicente del Bosque said, “this next game is the most important one because it’s the next one and because many years of work are at stake. Italy has changed during the tournament, it started well and is going to finish very well.” As for his line-up, VDB said, “we’ll make the best decision and play with those we consider the most appropriate for this game.” He also said he was happy that David Villa and Carles Puyol are coming: “we’re a family and their presence will help us.”
During a chat with El País’ readers, VDB was asked how he manages to remain so calm during the games. His response: “I can give that impression, but inside my nerves and the responsibility are eating me up. But we have to represent our country in the best way possible.”
The training session.
The training session took place at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday evening.
The players spent the morning at a short video session and with their families and friends.
This will be Paco Jiménez’ last game with La Roja, as he is retiring after this tournament. This will also be the first game of Spain’s that Paco gets to watch, since his job is to scout Spain’s opponents and prepare reports for VDB and the team, and so he is always busy watching other games and never La Roja. Paco has worked with VDB for many years, including during VDB’s time with Real Madrid. He said, “it has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Vicente who is not only my friend, but also the best coach I’ve ever worked with. Although I won’t be on the front line anymore, I’ll always be by his side.” ¡Gracias Paco!
Ignacio Sánchez Galán, the president of Iberdrola – one of La Roja’s principal sponsors – paid the team a visit at their hotel on Saturday. I wonder what promise his “dear friend” (in Galán’s words) Sergio extracted from him this time!
Love the glasses on Javi (!!!)!
If you remember, two years ago, Sergio became fixated on Galán’s watch during the World Cup. Galán told him that he had given this watch to the Spanish finalists in the America’s Cup and so Sergio asked if he would do the same for the national team if they reached the finals of the World Cup. Galán acceded to the request. During the parade in Madrid celebrating Spain’s World Cup victory, Sergio remembered the promise and reminded several members of Iberdrola’s delegation of it. In October that year, Galán made good on his promise and presented each member of the team and Vicente del Bosque with a limited edition and personalized watch from Franck Muller. Galán was wearing the watch that caught Sergio’s eye during the visit, and it looks like they reminisced about the story.
A selection of photos tweeted by our boys. Pepe Reina was excited to be making faces with Fernando Torres and PF Juan Mata, while Juanfran Torres got a photo with Plácido Domingo.
And Alejandro Talavante has sent his friend Sergio Ramos a cape to celebrate with should Spain win. Speaking of Sergio, he posted this photo with the other player who took a penalty a la Panenka during this tournament, Andrea Pirlo.