all set for France!

Keep in mind somos España as we take on France at 21h tonight, with a spot in the 2014 World Cup at stake.  Luckily for us, these two guys are scheduled to play.

Spain will debut a completely red kit (shirt, shorts, socks) for the game!  Let’s go La Roja!

What went on previously…

To sum up what happened in previous days, Spain tied Finland 1-1 on Friday evening in Gijón, with Sergio scoring Spain’s lone goal in his 100th game with La Roja.  He was also the captain for the game, making it a very memorable one for him.  This was Sergio’s ninth goal for Spain.

All in all, a good day’s work for Sergio!

Besides the tie, we also lost Jordi Alba to injury after he suffered a muscle tear in his right thigh.  Poor Jordi had to limp back to Madrid.  Meanwhile, David Silva received a yellow card and is suspended for the next game.  Both players left the concentración on Saturday in Madrid, as neither will be able to play against France.  Barcelona doctors said Jordi will be out seven to 10 days.  The good news was that Xavi trained normally on Saturday, in a closed door session.

After the training session, the players had the rest of the day off.  Pepe Reina caught a train to Córdoba and was in time to see his fourth child born!  Thiago Reina Ruiz came into the world at 18:30h on March 23, weighing three kilograms and measuring 50 centimeters.  According to the “entry” he left on Pepe’s Facebook, his proud papá had a glass of champagne in his honor!  ¡Enhorabuena Pepe y Yolanda!

On Sunday, the team once again trained before having lunch, resting and then flying to Paris (PF Juan Mata read Murakami’s short story collection after the quake during the trip).  During the lunch, Ángel Villar handed out pins to those players who had debuted with the team – Isco, Azpi, Javi García – while Cesc got a plaque and a ship for reaching 75 games with La Roja.

On Monday, the team trained at the Stade de France.  Later that evening, Iker Casillas arrived in Paris to meet up with the team and cheer them on for today’s match.  Xavi had asked VDB and other RFEF officials to invite Iker, and they did because they liked that idea.  Iker in turn asked permission from his club, and was granted it so he was able to fly to Paris (on a regular airline like any other passenger).  He is staying at the same hotel as the team and had dinner with them.  Apparently, his teammates greeted him with a round of applause.  The idea is for him to be present for the game day chat, have a training session with Ochoto while his teammates take the traditional paseo, watch the game and then return to Spain with the team.  The team will return to Madrid on Wednesday morning.

The Xabi Alonso pose section.™

Xabi went for a walk with Álvaro Arbeloa on Monday near the team hotel.  The other Álvaro, Negredo, was also spotted in the environs of the hotel.

Statistics, data, anecdotes.

Courtesy of Mister Chip.

32 games: Spain and France have faced each other 32 times, with a slight advantage for La Roja – the record stands at 14-7-11.  The only rival Spain has faced more than France is Portugal (35 times).

2012 Eurocopa triumph: Spain has only beaten France once in an official game (they have played eight times), the 2-0 from this past Eurocopa.  The other seven can be summed up in two ties (1-1 in the 1996 Eurocopa and 1-1 in the Calderón, five months ago, also for 2014 World Cup qualifying) and five losses (2-0 in the 1984 Eurocopa, 3-1 and 1-2 in qualifications for the 1992 Eurocopa, 2-1 in the 2000 Eurocopa and 3-1 in the 2006 World Cup).  [The 2000 and 2006 games still hurt when I think about them.]

Five wins in France: the national team has played 15 times in France, with a record of 5-3-7.  The last win was three years ago, when La Roja won 2-0 in Saint Denis behind goals from Villa and Sergio Ramos.

49 games without losing: La Roja has not lost a World Cup qualifying game for more than 20 years (the 0-1 against Denmark on March 31, 1993 was the last time).  The current streak of 49 games without losing is the longest in the history.  The previous record was Germany’s 36.

Good at away games: Spain has not lost in 25 consecutive away games in the qualifying for the World Cup.  The record is held by Germany with 40; the team is the only national team in the world to have never lost an away World Cup qualifying game.

From Switzerland… Spain has played 24 official games without losing, since that loss to Switzerland in the 2010 World Cup.  This equals the longest streak in its history, set between 2007 and 2009.  That streak ended at 24 when Spain took on the United States in the 2009 Confederations Cup.

Two consecutive ties: Spain has tied its last two official games: 1-1 against France and 1-1 against Finland.  Spain has not played three consecutive official games without a win since 2004, and has not tied three consecutive official games since 1994.

Scoring: France and Spain have scored in their last 21 World Cup qualifiers.  Only the United States has a longer streak, with 27.  The world record is held by Germany with 36, set between 1934 and 1985.

March, a good month: La Roja has only lost one of its last 20 games played in the month of March (a 0-1 loss to the Netherlands on March 27, 2002).  Spain has won 16 times and tied three times.

Last loss at Wembley: La Roja has played 19 consecutive games without losing, since that loss in Wembley (0-1 on Nov. 12, 2011).  That is the best current streak in the world and fourth best in La Roja’s history.  Brazil and Spain share the world record of 35 games without losing.

Pedro, goalscorer: Pedro has scored nine goals for Spain in the 2012-13 season.  Only three Spanish players have scored 10 or more international goals during one season: David Villa (13 in 2008-09 and 12 in 2009-10), Fernando Torres (10 in 2005-06) and Raúl (10 in 1998-99).

Other things.

Here’s more information on La Roja’s summer plans.  The concentración for the Confederations Cup will begin on June 4.  The team will play two friendlies in the United States as preparation, taking on Northern Ireland in New Jersey on June 6 and Haiti in Fort Lauderdale on June 11 (during their time in Florida, they’ll stay at Florida Atlantic University).  After that, they will travel to Brazil for the tournament, which for them begins on June 17 against Uruguay in Recife.  The other games in the group stage are against Tahiti in Rio de Janeiro on June 20 and Nigeria in Forteleza on June 23, and the headquarters of the team will be in Rio.  The friendlies part information has not yet been confirmed by the RFEF.

Interviews.

In part three of the La Sexta interview, Sergio says he wears the number “15” in honor of Antonio Puerta, who debuted with that number against Sweden.  Sergio was wearing the “4” but then decided to change to the “15” in memory of his friend.  He also says he’s sad his grandmother (on his mother’s side) and grandfather (on his father’s side) weren’t able to enjoy the most recent triumphs with him, and that it was priceless to see his father, mother and sister all crying when Spain won the World Cup.  Meanwhile, David de Gea tells La Sexta that Iker is a reference for all goalkeepers, and Pepe and VV are great people and he’s grateful for the warm welcome they gave him.  So far, he’s enjoying spending time with La Roja.  And Nacho Monreal tells Cuatro the only thing the team is thinking about is beating France and finishing first in the group.  As for those who have lost confidence in Spain after the Finland game, Nacho says the tie isn’t something that should cause people to start doubting the team, after all the successes they earned in recent years.  He also expresses his full confidence that Spain will be in Brazil.

And some highlights from Geri Piqué’s interview with El País.

Did the game against Finland generate doubts about the team?

Zero.  We’ve played that game a thousand times.  You remember Switzerland in South Africa?  Of course you can lose one day, but what you have won before matters.  Between us, there are no doubts.  In Spain, it’s said you’re in a crisis if you lose one game after doing what no one has ever done before: Eurocopa, World Cup, Eurocopa.  We can’t live on that alone, but we can’t doubt our style.  This country is bipolar.  The press and the fans are bipolar.  It’s very easy to say good things when you’re winning and to say that you need to find another style when you’re losing.  It’s shouldn’t be like that.

And what has Del Bosque said?

It’s spectacular the tranquility that he has passed on to us.  He has no doubts, and the players know that.

How do you plan to manage Milan’s image?

In the end he’s a kid and I don’t want to hide him, as I’m very proud.  I don’t understand why the faces of the children of celebrities have to be pixelated.  I don’t want my son to have his face pixelated.  When he’s nine, he’ll look at the magazine and say, “I don’t have a face, I’m not anyone?”  That’s why we decided to present him.

He’s a very fortunate kid…

We thought about helping people and the first idea was to do a report in a magazine and donate the money.  But we immediately realized that there would be people who would misunderstand, who would think that we were making money off of the child… so we created an online baby shower where people could give gifts that would become mosquito nets, vaccines, food for children… we collected thousands of kilograms of supplies.  We’re very grateful.  People are good.  And you see Milan, who is a month old, and you think, “look, you have already done something for someone.”

And your grandmother Lina?

She’s phenomenal!  She’s happy in her house, in her town… one day, right after Shaki and I started dating, we went to Solsona to hunt mushrooms.  I laughed so much!  My grandmother said to her, “hola, maca.”  She had no idea who that girl was.  We laughed a lot because that day I realized that my grandmother didn’t know how to speak Spanish.  She tried, but she had such a bad time of it.  Then my father told her who she (Shakira) was, because he thought she should know.  They get along wonderfully and in the end you can see that above fame, there are people.  My grandmother likes football a lot and always asks me how the team is…

And Shakira?

Hombre, she knew what it was about, but listen, the day we went to film the video for “Waka Waka,” she didn’t even know who Messi was!  I’ve learned a lot about music.  Thanks to her, I’ve discovered The Cure, Bowie… she really likes that type of music, from the ’80s and ’90s.  As a mother, she is extremely affectionate, correct and sensible.  She’s protective, she plans ahead, has everything controlled.  She’s very much a mother and very Shaki: all heart.  And very smart.  Right after I met her, I listened to the speech she gave at Oxford and it left me amazed.

Has Milan peed on you yet?

Has Milan peed on me?  Each time I change him!  They say it brings good luck.

La Rojita.

The U-21 team beat Russia 3-1 in Alcorcón behind goals from Rodrigo, Iker Muniain and Thiago.  This was their last friendly before this June’s U-21 Eurocopa in Israel, which Spain will go into as defending champions.

Meanwhile, Spain has been drawn into a group with France, the United States and the third place finisher of the African championship (Egypt, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria are the semifinalists) for the U-20 World Cup in Turkey.  The first game will be on June 21 against the U.S., the second against the African team on June 24, and the third against France on June 27; all of the games will be played in Istanbul.

Here is a sampling of the adorable photos the boys have shared with us over the last several days (the senior team could learn a thing or two from them).

¡Vamos España!

Posted on March 26, 2013, in games, interviews, la rojita, team, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I totally agree with you, senior team should share more photos like younger teams :) I can’t wait to see the game :)

  2. Una, since you translated iker’s and sergios’s books, does that mean you’re gong to translate xabi’s book too??

    P.S.: please??

  3. i am picturing pique listening to robert smith and i am laughing and laughing and laughing! seriously though it sounds like fatherhood is really agreeing with him. :)

  4. Hi ! Do you know the name of the hotel they stayed in ?

  5. Never said thanks for this post, sorry – I was too nervous about the match!

    Xavi asked VDB to bring Iker in… well, who could possibly refuse that ship face? The cameras panned to Iker when VV made a tremendous(ly lucky) save towards the end, and oh, his expression! It must be so stressful to watch your team struggle from the stands.

    Congratulations to Papa Pepe, although I wish that these guys would come up with more original names! How will we keep track of all the Lucas and Thiagos running around in a few years?

    And La Rojita are doing us proud :). I was so happy for my boy Tello’s goals. He’s on a roll, too – came back to score with Barcelona over the weekend.

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