all set for Uruguay!

Spain takes on Uruguay tonight, or rather, early early tomorrow morning (00h Spain time), in the opening game for La Roja in the Confederations Cup, which as we’re reminded every five minutes, is the only cup we don’t have in our trophy cabinet.  So let’s go and win this cup!

Do you think Pepe said yes?  And how was Iker planning on getting the ring over the glove?

A run-down of the two friendlies.

Spain beat Hait 2-1 in Miami on June 8 behind goals from Santi Cazorla and Cesc.   The team then traveled to New York the next day, arriving in the late afternoon.  On June 10, they had the morning off, and many used the opportunity to go shopping or do touristy stuff.  For example, Iker and Santi Cazorla took a taxi to Times Square.

While the majority of the others were in street clothes, they chose to wear their La Roja gear, making them stand out a bit despite the fact that they were in New York City.  Fernando Torres and PF Juan Mata also paired up to go sightseeing.

Álvaro Arbeloa, Raúl Albiol and Roberto Soldado went shopping and sightseeing together, while Javi and Busi went shopping (Javi bought a Ricky Rubio jersey at the NBA store.  Couldn’t he have just asked Ricky for one in Miami, as Ricky – aka the Oklahoma City Thunder player according to those geniuses over at Mediaset – was there?)  Cesc posted a photo of him and Geri buying children’s clothes, while Andrés Iniesta caused a near riot in front of the hotel after he ducked into a souvenir shop next door.  Other shoppers included Pepe, David Villa, David Silva, Xavi, Jordi Alba, Pedro, Azpi, Nacho Monreal, Sergio Ramos, Jesús Navas, Víctor Valdés… The players came back loaded with bags from the NBA store, Apple, FAO Schwartz, and of course footballer-favorite brands Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

On June 11, Spain beat Ireland 2-0 at Yankee Stadium, which had been reconfigured to host the football game.  Roberto Soldado and Juan Mata were the goalscorers for Spain.

The next day, the team traveled to Recife, where heavy rain awaited them.  It appears that the rain has followed La Roja throughout the entire trip so far, as it had rained in Miami, in New York and now in Brazil!

The team has been training in Recife since then (accompanied by the rain).

Stats, data, curiosities from Mr. Chip. 

From AS.

Confecup: Spain, Uruguay and Italy have all been world, continental and Olympic champions.  All three are looking for their first Confederations Cup to complete a series of titles that only two countries have won: Argentina and France.  Brazil has never won a gold medal at the Olympics, while Mexico lacks the World Cup.

Ramos, like Puyol: Sergio Ramos will tie Carles Puyol today as the player with the fifth most number of games in final phases of tournaments, with 25.  Ahead of them are Iker (33), Xavi (29), Torres (29) and Xabi Alonso (26).  Cesc, who is only 26 years old, can move past Zubi’s 23 games in the final phases of the World Cup, Eurocopa and Confecup.

1950, the exception: Brazil and Argentina have hosted 15 FIFA tournaments for senior national teams (two World Cups and 13 Copas América), and only Uruguay was capable of beating the host, as it did in the 1950 World Cup and the 1916, 1987 and 2011 editions of the Copa América.  The 1950 World Cup is the only tournament Brazil hosted and did not win.

Playing a champion: Spain will play against a reigning continental champion (Uruguay won the 2011 Copa América) for the 33rd time in its history.  In the 32 precedents, the record is 18-6-8.

Thirty three games without losing: Spain has never lost a game against a South American team other than Brazil or Argentina.  In the 33 games against Bolivia (1), Chile (9), Colombia (2), Ecuador (1), Paraguay (4), Peru (3), Uruguay (9) and Venezuela (4), Spain has a record of 24-9-0, with 70 goals scored and 21 allowed.

Experience: Óscar Tabárez and Vicente del Bosque are the two coaches in this Confecup with the most number of games.  Tabárez has coached 125 games, while VDB has been in charge of Spain for 71 games.  Despite the 54-game difference between the two, VDB has more wins than his counterpart, 60 to 58.

Two ties: Spain and Uruguay have played nine times (1950 World Cup, 1990 World Cup, and seven friendlies), with Spain winning four games (all friendlies) and tying five, including the two official games.  The first official game took place on July 9, 1950 in São Paulo.  The game finished 2-2.  The second official game took place during the group stage of the 1990 World Cup on June 13.  The game ended 0-0.  Tabárez was already coaching Uruguay at this point.

The one and only Pepe Reina.

Interviews.  

Gerard Piqué spoke with AS (although the pictures are from when he was interviewed by Marca on the same day).  Here are the highlights:

on pairing up with Ramos and missing Puyol: he’s missed.  For me, he’s like a brother.  Sergio is a fantastic player and he does extraordinary work at a level that makes us forget about Puyi on the field.  Puyi will make it to the World Cup, there’s one year left and he’s already recovered.  I’m sure he wants to come, it’s the World Cup and the national team, he has played 100 games and he’s always demonstrated how much he values playing for the team.

on Milan: he has changed my life completely.  Everyone says that and you don’t think it will be that big of a deal, but it is.  You approach football with another philosophy, because before when you lost, it killed you, and you spent the entire night thinking about it and you couldn’t sleep.  But now, you arrive home, you see your kid and you say, “it was a horrible day, it was a tough day, but you’re here with your son… ¡hostia!”  If he likes football, phenomenal, but if he likes something else, I want him to enjoy it.

By the way, Shakira is on the cover of the July issue of American Elle, and these are the excerpts about her and Geri:

– Gerard is not Team Shakira, he’s Team Barcelona, and that’s actually one of the healthiest things about the relationship.  He has his own world, and I know that he’s the only person who is with me not because of any interest other than the love that unites us.  There’s nothing that I can offer him beyond my womanhood – does that word exist in English?

– Love doesn’t always come with the full package [referring to her previous relationship].  This time it did.  This time I smile with my full smile, not with half of it like I used to.  It’s funny – Gerard and I were born on the same day, Feb. 2.  And we are so similar in so many aspects of our personalities, even the dramatic aspects… we are two passionate people, and it’s a very passionate relationship, but oddly enough there’s a lot of harmony between us, even though he comes from the sports world and I come from show business and the arts.

– When he and Shakira met (for only the second time) at the opening ceremony [of the 2010 World Cup], she says, Piqué, undeterred by their age difference or the fact that she was in a widely publicized long-term relationship, told her, “‘I’m going to win the World Cup just so I can see you one more time, at the closing ceremony.’  And he did win, and they are currently the champions of the world, and you know I can’t tell you any more details after that” [roll eyes].

– I can’t say that I spend more time with the baby than Gerard does.  He’s so connected and involved.  He changes his diapers and loves to bathe him and read books to him.

– I was not feeling the love like it was supposed to be, I started to think that there was no God.  And suddenly I meet Gerard and the sun comes out [how corny!]

Andrés Iniesta spoke to El País.  Those highlights:

on the Confecup being a lesser tournament after a long season: are you crazy saying we can’t be bothered to play with the national team in Brazil?  No way!  I’m very excited about it.  I think we are all motivated to win a title that we don’t have and in such a football-crazy country.  I remember watching the 1994 World Cup as a kid in Fuentealbilla, I never even dreamed that Spain would one day win the World Cup, and much less with me on the team.  And knowing that we’re going to Brazil, that I’m going to playing at the Maracanã… in addition, we’re the champions of the world and we have a big responsibility and we need to face it with pride and demand a lot of ourselves.  And then there are the dances… I can learn some new samba steps…

on being a Spanish football hero: hero?  Whatever!  I feel very loved, that’s clear.  The fans show me their affection wherever I go.  But being a hero is another thing.  Heroes are those who fight against diseases, or who have to move to another place to feed their children.  I’m a privileged person who plays football and at times has the fortune to make other people happy by scoring a goal or giving a pass to help win the game.  And that’s the good thing about this team, that we were able to bring joy for one day to all those anonymous heroes who don’t usually have many reasons to smile.  In addition, I never won anything alone, we achieved it as a team.  That’s our strength, we know that we’re a team and that no one is better than anyone else.

on whether being a father or scoring a goal in the World Cup is more difficult: being a father is a gift.  I’ll get back to you when she’s 16… I won’t score another goal in the World Cup final, but I hope to have more children.

Cesc also talked about being a father, among other things, in an interview with El Confidencial.

on having already played 80 games at the age of 26: and there was one year where I didn’t come because of minor injuries.  I’m proud of what I’ve done.

on the Madrid-Barcelona rift: I speak with Sergio, I joke around with Iker, I talk about basketball with Albiol, who is teaching me a lot, actually.  The relationship is good, of total companionship.  When you speak with them, it’s impossible to remember if they play for Madrid or not.  They’re teammates.  I’ve known Sergio since I was 17 when I played with him on the youth national team and he would hit me in our room.  Iker helped me to integrate and I’ve been with Albiol since the U-20 team.

on being a father: it has changed every aspect of my life.  My life now revolves around my daughter.  My paternal instinct has come out and I want at least two more children.

Roberto Soldado was the first one to take Marca’s “En cinco toques” test (hopefully the others will follow suit).

What is your first memory of the national team?  the day of my debut was special because I was 20 and playing for Osasuna. 

And when you were younger?  I remember the first time my parents took me to watch the national team, in the Mestalla.  

The last person you followed on Twitter: Buffff…. (laughs) Now you got me.  I think a teammate from the national team.

If you weren’t a footballer, what would you be?  I think a profession related to sports, physical education teacher or something like that.

What will you do if Spain wins the Confecup?  I’m not one to make bets, but anything other than bungee jumping or skydiving.

Two moments.

A baby is not impressed by Andrés Iniesta at all, and Javi being Javi.

Ads.

Iberdrola and Movistar.

Other things.

On Saturday, the entire team took the time to change and pose for their official photo decked out in their official suits by Pedro del Hierro!  I love men in suits, especially these ones!

And check out this video of the boys getting photographed for FIFA.  I would have to say PF Juan Mata is the most photogenic, judging by the results.

Here’s Víctor Valdés’ interview for La Energía de La Roja.

The first ball I ever had, I think I found it in my neighborhood, and I remember that it was plastic and pink.  And that’s when I began playing with my older brother.  I played in the goal at my house, which was the garage door, and the first person to take shots at me was my older brother, with that pink plastic ball that I just mentioned.  And then I played out on the streets with friends, well, our town had a futsal pitch which is where the older boys and younger boys got together to play.  I liked to play as a field player, and at times as a goalkeeper, but only when I played with the local team.  I think the first autograph I ever got was that of Ronald Koeman.  When I lived in Tenerife with my family, I was lucky enough to have a relative who knew him.  The first one that I asked for was from Iván de la Pena, who was the first professional footballer I shared a residence with at La Masía.  And when I saw him on the first team, he gave me an autograph, and it made me very happy.  I like Giovanni Galli a lot, a goalkeeper who was a reference.  And I also liked how he dressed, I noticed that and he was also a reference for me in this.  And later on, as I grew up, I noticed what I liked and didn’t like about goalkeepers, and two goalkeepers who have always been important for me are Cañizares and Oliver Kahn, who had the qualities I liked.  I purchased my first pair of gloves myself, in the sports store of my hometown.  They were the cheapest ones and the ugliest ones.  Those were the only ones I could afford.  As a kid, I dreamed of reaching the top, of being like the footballers on the posters you had in your room, of playing for the team of your dreams.  For me, that was Barcelona, and I was lucky enough to get there.  I feel privileged, and I believe that’s the dream of all kids, to become a professional with the team you love.  My most important shirt is from my first game in the Camp Nou.  It was a friendly to raise anti-drug awareness, with teams made up of Liga players.  I was lucky enough to be able to play.  I then gave the shirt to my grandfather.  When he passed away, we decided to bury him in that shirt because he was one of my biggest fans.  Whenever I’ve been asked to give advice to those who are starting out in football or in this case children, I always say the same thing: to enjoy yourselves.  Football never stops being a game, it is also a sport where you can become a professional and earn a living and realize your dreams, but it’s a long road and you have to enjoy it, because later on when you get to the top, you regret not having enjoyed those moments of joy with your teammates more.  So enjoy yourself, don’t let it get to you, it’s just a game.

Speaking of VV, I am insanely jealous of his eyelashes.  Look at how long they are, and how they naturally curl!

A little Azpi appreciation to end.

¡Guapo!

Posted on June 16, 2013, in interviews, players, team, training, videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. Emma Tiede (@Justicerocks11)

    So cute! :D I just love how cute these guys are together. It’s just so cute. I just love your blog too!

  2. That baby may not be impressed with Iniesta, but she certainly looks relaxed. She knows she’s in good hands! And Iniesta’s answers to El Pais are fantastic, especially the “are you crazy?” and his comments on heroes. How could anyone not love him?
    Men in suits! La Roja in suits!!!!!
    VV gets more likeable all the time. Hmm, Cesc didn’t mention his relationship with Arbeloa. I wonder if they get along. ;) (I’m totally kidding, but that’s what happens in the press all the time!) I love this team and I will continue to love them whether they win or not and no matter how many clubs they play for.
    Oh, yes, and I’m sure Pepe said yes! Who could resist?

  3. they are a scrumptious team, all around. :) look at those suits!

    this is such a wonderful post! thank you, una! so much goodness, i don’t even know where to begin … i loved iniesta’s quotes about heroes, and being a father (especially today, on father’s day, so sweet) and i am in full agreement that VV’s eyelashes (and eyes in general) are just gorgeous and envy-inducing.

    and there is just something about iker, soaking wet, wringing out his gloves … yum. :p

  4. Hahaha, great shot and caption of Pepe and Iker.

    Yeah, I can see how helpful Geri and Cesc were with the shopping process.

    LOL, hopefully that baby will be more impressed when she grows up and realizes that she had a World Cup Champion supporting her little diapered booty.

    And THANK YOU XAVI for randomly wandering over past the camera in your suit <3

  5. Vamos por todo! Let’s go win the one cup Spain doesn’t have! I was going to stalk the players while they were in NY at their hotel/Fifth ave, but the weather was so uncooperative (the rain seems to be following them around) that I ended up not doing it :).

  6. Iniesta’s answer to the question about being a football hero was lovely, I really liked the line “And that’s the good thing about this team, that we were able to bring joy for one day to all those anonymous heroes who don’t usually have many reasons to smile.”
    And Geri and Cesc and their babies! Great all around :)

  7. My goodness! So many great updates, interviews, and pictures! very much like the quick stats and trivia info too! Thanks una!
    Rain, rain, rain… it certainly has been following the team. Glad to see it has not dampened their spirits or their playing. –love the shot of Sergio winking!
    i also can ever get enough of watching the boys in practice and training. their joy even when scoring goals in training is so infectious, always makes me smile.

  8. I started laughing when watching Mata’s response to his question on the Adidas video of what he listens to before an important game, (and his smile), “Escuchamos lo que quiere Sergio Ramos. En el vestuario en Brasil pone salsa, samba…”

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