ready to go for the gold!
London, here we come! Or rather Glasgow, since that will be Spain’s first stop in these Olympic Games, as La Rojita will take on Japan on July 26 at Hampden Park in its first game of the Games.
As stated above, La Rojita is actually beginning the Olympics one day early, on July 26. On July 27, the team will take a private plane from Glasgow to London, so that they can participate in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. All of the players, plus RFEF delegate Cayetano Gomar and Luis Milla, will take part in the parade of nations. Once the ceremony concludes, the team will travel to Newcastle, since that is where their second game against Honduras is on July 29, at St. James Park. The third game of the group stage, against Morocco on Aug. 1, is at Old Trafford in Manchester, which should be very special for David de Gea.
Wrapping things up in Madrid.
On Thursday, the team tried on all the clothes that Spanish athletes will wear during the Games. That included the official tracksuit, the polo shirt, other shirts, pants, shorts, shoes… Some are better than others, no? Javi later told COPE that the important thing is being there, not the clothes they wear. And Ander told Cadena SER that the Spanish Olympic Committee had made an effort to get these clothes for the athletes for free, in this time of economic difficulties. In the end, it’s the athletes who count, not the clothes (he also said Iker will get his revenge on De Gea for the sleeping picture, that Iker is one of those players who helps the group to unite and that it’s a good thing that the team is not made up of 18 Ikers or else it would be crazy. Jajaja!).
Why can’t there be any pictures of the players changing into (or out of, I’m not picky) the clothes?
That same day, the Olympic team (wearing their official polos) had lunch with the president of the Spanish Olympic Committee, Alejandro Blanco. He wished them a lot of luck in their upcoming Olympic adventure, and reminded them that Spaniards are expecting a lot from them. La Rojita has now become one of our best chances to win a gold medal at the upcoming Games, after both Rafa Nadal and Samuel Sánchez withdrew due to injury, leaving them unable to defend the gold medals they had won in Beijing.
On Friday, the team trained and then Luis Milla invited them all, plus the other members of the delegation, to a dinner at his house catered by Asador Imanol. Jordi Alba said it was a very positive experience for the team, while Iker Muniain thanked Milla for the nice gesture and said it allowed the team to break with their routine and have a good time. He added that they were back in the hotel by 22:30h, since they had to pack.
A couple of these guys would be on my ultimate dinner party list…
The only negative news of the day came in the form of Iker Muniain’s injury. He had an MRI done at the Clínica Cemtro, which showed a tear to his right thigh muscle. The team doctor, Jorge Guillén, said more tests will be done in Glasgow on Tuesday. The next day, he said he expects Muniain to be recovered by Spain’s first game against Japan. Iker, however, wasn’t so optimistic, and said on Saturday that he doubts he’ll be ready for the game against Japan because they don’t want to risk anything with the injury, and so it’s better for him to rest for a few days so that he can be ready for the next game, although the sensations are good at the moment.
To Glasgow we go!
On Saturday afternoon, the team left for Glasgow via London!
At the airport in Madrid, Iker Muniain joked about the controversial tracksuits: “you need to have a body like this (looks down at his own) to wear it, no? No, seriously, the truth is that the clothes are good and it’s what there is.” Meanwhile, Adrián said he’s always loved watching the men’s 100 m race, and that he would like to see the race and Usain Bolt live.
During the layover in London (which was prolonged because the flight to Glasgow was delayed), the players rested and walked around the terminal, and also visited the Olympics store there, as well as signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. They arrived in the Scottish city at 21:30h local time, and headed to their hotel, the Glasgow Marriott. They will have four days in Glasgow to prepare for their first game against Japan.
Javi Martínez also tweeted that Carles Puyol had given gifts in the form of CP5 watches to all of the members of the Olympic team! What a grand gesture from Carles! Remember how much Javi wanted one of those watches?
Raining and training in Glasgow.
The team started training in Glasgow on Sunday morning, at the University of Strathclyde. Iker Muniain trained apart from the team due to his injury. The entire session was one hour long, and allowed the players to get acclimated to the weather conditions in the Scottish city, and of course, fool around. The keepers love kicking Isco, don’t they?
Diego Mariño also posed with the 1992 Olympic torch, while Ander and Koke posed together after the session.
There was also time for a paseo, with our boys attired in the Spanish team tracksuits. Ketchup and mustard, anyone? And if you’re in Glasgow, well, this team is hard to miss, especially when they’re all walking together, so keep an eye out for them!
In declarations to the RFEF, Iker Muniain said things will still be okay if he doesn’t make the first game against Japan, since everyone’s hope is that Spain will remain in the tournament for a long time. He also called the team “a group of friends,” said that everyone is excited to take part in the parade of nations, and that “we all will be elegant with the clothes that have been designed for us. They look better than they first appeared, now that everyone has seen us wearing them.”
On Monday, the team once again trained under heavy rainfall in Glasgow (the weather report forecasts rain for the day of the game as well). Azpi and captain Javi both look good wet…
… and of course there was evidence that this was more of a playground session than a training session.
Need more proof?
Or how about Rodrigo here?
There was also time for a paseo. Red is my favorite color (even before Spain became La Roja) but this might be a bit too much red, especially when the shoes are put together with the tracksuit.
Prior to the session, the team headed to Hampden Park, where all of the members of the delegation received their accreditation for the Games (it appears that PF didn’t part with his for the rest of the day). They also met with Olympic officials and coordinators for the football tournament, who spoke with them about security, regulations, medical controls…
The team once again trained at the University of Strathclyde on Tuesday. Iker Muniain trained with the team after training by himself for the past week, although it’s still unknown whether he’ll be fully recovered by the first game on Thursday. Prior to the session, Luis Milla and captain Javi Martínez (plus his adorable pout) had spoken to the press at Hampden Park. Javi had said that the triple J team (Javi, Juan Mata and Jordi Alba) are facing the Olympics with the same mentality as they had faced the Eurocopa, and that “it’s an opportunity for all of us to continue growing and maintaining this winning path. The motivation is the same.”
Adrián is keeping a diary during the Olympics for La Información. Here are the highlights from the first entry, July 23. Adrián says the security measures are incredible, and that PF Juan Mata – his roommate, as you can see – told him that there weren’t such tight measures during the Eurocopa. He adds that the players even have to show their accreditation in order to enter into dining room where they have breakfast. Adrián also says they’re getting used to the Spanish uniform, and that on the first day, they had to exchange articles of clothing because some of the sizes were wrong, leading to a lot of joking around. As for the rain, Adrián says he doesn’t mind, since “we’re used to it in Asturias.” Lunch was pasta with chicken, and before his siesta, he and Juanín watched the end of the movie that they had not managed to finish yesterday, Jerry McGuire. They liked it a lot.
Interviews and other things.
In an interview with Marca, Jordi Alba said he beats the boredom during the concentración by playing Play, especially football, and the team also spends time watching movies or TV series in each other’s rooms. He also reveals that he doesn’t like pocha and he doesn’t know how to play, and that the team is preparing for a Play tournament. Jordi expects to do well, as he’s been playing since he was young, with his brother and his friends, and so he’s pretty good at it. As for music, Álvaro Domínguez is the DJ, “although we haven’t chosen our lucky song yet.”
In an interesting and at times amusing interview with El Mundo, PF Juan Mata had the following to say. And he once again showed how much of an intellectual he is! He’s so well-spoken and elegant!
You are the Man of the Moment, who is your eternal woman? My mother and my sister, who are a reflection for me. Being the Man of the Moment is nice, but it’s an anecdote. The wives of miners also deserve a monument. Miners suffer, and their wives suffer more.
Why have you become old even though you’re young? All of my life, I’ve done things before my friends in Oviedo did. I left home at the age of 15, I couldn’t go out with them, I couldn’t do the typical adolescent things at that age. Perhaps I am older than I should be.
What do all of you think about Spain when you’re playing with La Roja? We noted that we were able to bring joy to the country, and it needed that. Even the president of the government told us that. On the streets, people remind us that we’re one of the few good news coming out of Spain.
As an Asturian from Burgos, how do you feel in London? I feel a bit English-ized. Obviously, I feel very Spanish in London, I maintain my roots and my Spanish style of life, I’m still Spanish when it comes to my timetable, with what I eat, in the way I understand life. But it’s also true that I like to immerse myself in English society, to get to know the city, typical things… I like to immerse myself in what’s around me.
With this tracksuit, what medal will you win in Carrefour? Jajaja, I hope to win a gold one. The tracksuit is secondary.
Juanín, si ’l asturianu nun ye una llingua, ¿entonces qué ye, ho? (If bable is not a language, what is it then?) Ye una llingua (it’s a language). It’s something that people try to maintain, and I think that’s great. My paternal grandmother says many expressions. I understand bable and I speak a couple of words… Fai un fríu que escaraba-ya el pelleyu (it’s so cold that your skin is prickling).
Where would García Lorca play on your team? As a midfield organizer, he is my creative midfielder. For me, it would be really difficult to be a poet. Footballers always receive a lot of praise, but there are more difficult things, such as sitting down and writing something that people will like.
Can you give us a verse? I don’t know, I could say a verse from Benedetti or García Lorca… there was a song. Con 10 cañones por banda, viento en popa a toda vela, no corta el mar, sino vuela, un velero bergantín (it’s Espronceda’s “Cancíon del pirata” (not Canción del (El) Pirata, unfortunately). In school, my classmates laughed at me because I knew that. And I still know it.
What do you fear? Physically, I fear some things, a strange animal. And in life I don’t fear many things, I don’t fear failure because failure is part of success. To triumph, you have to fail, you have to know what it’s like to have bad moments.
What question does football not answer? Football answers all questions of life. It develops collective values. Almost all of the questions I’ve been asked about life can be answered by football.
A little La Rojita (the U-19 version and the future).
Check out this video of the U-19 team celebrating their Euro win! I love the little dance from Derik, Jesé and Adrián, and how the two andaluces, Juanmi and José Campaña, the bullfighter and the bull, respectively, did passes with the Spanish flag as the cape! Plus, there is footage from the locker room of the boys in their briefs, and less; check out the right hand side of the shot at 3:05! If the lockers were assigned by numbers as they normally are, that’s Suso or Juanmi.
And there’s also this video of the future La Roja! The very adorable children from the RFEF’s summer campus spoke about their favorite players and what they’re doing at the camp. I love the little boy with the Sergio Ramos childhood haircut who said Iker deserves the Ballon d’Or!