to the final!
La Rojita is doing so well, I think they deserve their own post, no? Our U-21 team has reached the final of the U-21 Euro, after beating Russia, Germany and the Netherlands in the first round, and then Norway in the semifinals. Now, they’ll face Italy (a repeat of the 2012 Eurocopa final!) on Tuesday in Jerusalem.
This will be La Rojita’s sixth final in the category. In the previous five appearances, Spain has won three times (1986, 1998 and 2011) and lost twice (1984 and 1996). David de Gea, Martín Montoya, Thiago, Iker Muniain and Diego Mariño could repeat as champions, as they were part of the 2011 championship team. On Tuesday, De Gea will also tie Santi Denia as the player with the most U-21 caps, 27.
On June 9 against Germany, Spain won 1-0 behind a goal in the 86th minute by super sub Álvaro Morata, who had also done that exact same thing against Russia (come into the game as a sub and score the game-winning goal during the last part of the game).
The boys dedicated the win to Sergio Canales, who had left the team and Israel the previous day after being ruled out for the rest of the tournament due to the left leg injury he suffered during the first game. Have a swift recovery Sergio! And may the senior team learn how to take a locker room photo like this one…
On June 12 against the Netherlands, Spain won 3-0 behind goals from Álvaro Morata, Isco (who has been superb the entire tournament) and Álvaro Vázquez. Julen Lopetegui used the game to give all the field players minutes. In this way, Spain finished first in their group. Nacho Camacho suffered a left knee sprain but it wasn’t as serious as previously thought.
On June 15 against Norway, Spain once again scored three goals and allowed none as they stormed their way to the final. We had Isco and Morata as repeat goalscorers, while Rodrigo, the all-time leading goalscorer for the U-21 team, also chipped in one. Morata has scored in all of the games, and is the tournament’s pichichi with four goals. What makes that all the more impressive is that he has only started one game, and is averaging one goal every 41 minutes. David de Gea is the current Zamora.
After the game, everyone wanted a photo with MFC, who from the looks of it only knows one way to pose. Damn that towel!
Off the field, the boys have been hanging out by the swimming pool, as well as playing videogames, billiards and ping pong in their game room. Apparently, Álvaro Morata, Álvaro González and David de Gea are the best ping pong players, while Iñigo Martínez, Martín Montoya and Nacho are the best pool players.
Marca has been giving the players little tests, and they are a nice way to get to know the boys better as persons.
How many WhatsApp groups do you have?
Iñigo Martínez: I think four… cousins, friends, club teammates and national team teammates.
Joel Robles: Three.
Rodrigo Moreno: Three.
Martín Montoya: I think I have two.
Marc Bartra: Four or five, one with my friends, another with my cousins, another with the national team…
What has been the strangest or most useless app you’ve downloaded on your phone?
IM: I think a flashlight one. I downloaded it and I’ve never used it.
JR: Everything that I’ve downloaded has some use.
RM: A flashlight one.
MM: I think I use all the ones that I have.
MB: One called Chiamami, where you put the name of the person that you want to call you and then your phone rings as if that person were calling you.
Have you used social networks to meet girls?
IM: No. I don’t have Twitter or anything. I only talk with people from my hometown on Facebook.
JR: No, never.
MB: I have Twitter and I only use it for footballing matters.
What TV series have you become hooked on recently?
IM: I don’t really watch TV series.
JR: I don’t really like TV series.
RM: Game of Thrones.
MM: El Internado.
MB: The truth is that I’m not really into TV series. I don’t really watch a lot of TV.
Which famous person, historical or current, would you like to meet?
IM: None, really.
RM: Michael Jordan.
MM: Fernando Alonso.
MB: I would like to get to know Dani Martín. I’ve always liked his music and I haven’t had the opportunity to meet him.
Who has given you the best advice, and what was it?
IM: My parents. They told me to always fight and continue forward with humility both in good and bad moments. You will get what you want by fighting for it.
JR: My father always told me never to give up.
RM: My father.
MM: My father. He tells me to always work hard, that life is tough and you have to enjoy every moment.
MB: My father, who always told me that the best things a person can have are ambition and humility.
What are your first memories of football?
JR: My debut in the first division.
RM: Playing at school.
MM: When my brother played for Gavà. I was three or four years old and during the halftime I would play with the ball, which was bigger than I was.
MB: The tournament in Maspalomas, when I was 10. I won my first international tournament with Barcelona, and it was great.
Peter Crouch said that if he weren’t a footballer, he’d still be a virgin. How about you?
IM: That would be impossible…
JR: I’m sure I wouldn’t be.
RM: I don’t believe so…
MM: I don’t think so, I started dating my girl at a very young age and I don’t think I would be like Crouch.
MB: I don’t think so…
When was the first time you ever got nervous?
JR: I don’t usually get nervous.
RM: Just this morning.
MM: I suffer the most when I have to give presentations in class.
MB: Right now, I’m a bit nervous doing this interview.
What place would you like to visit that you haven’t yet?
IM: I think the Maldives. I love beaches and tranquility. I like those places a lot.
MM: Africa, for a safari.
MB: I would like to go to the United States, I’ve never been in New York and it’s one of the few places I haven’t been to. I would also like to visit more of the U.S.
Martín Montoya also told Marca in another interview that he’s in the fourth year of a physical education degree, and that he brought his notes with him to Israel and is studying for upcoming exams. When asked what player from the 2011 team he would bring back to this team, he said Javi Martínez.
AS has also been giving the players little tests.
Who has played the most games in the history of the U-21 team? Santi Denia [right answer]. How much did Barcelona say it paid for Neymar? I believe it was 57 million. Who is the top goalscorer in the history of the U-21 team? I would say it’s Rodri, who is the current top goalscorer [correct answer as well]. What did you do with your first salary? I’m sure I enjoyed it with my family. Do you know which four cities this competition is being played at? No, I don’t know, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, where we are… What symbol is at the center of the Israeli flag: a cross, a star or a crescent moon? The star of David. How many times has Spain won the U-21 Euro? Ummm… three [right again]. Where did you watch Spain win the World Cup? I don’t remember, but it was probably Zaragoza. Do you know who was the first Israeli footballer in the Liga? No. How many tattoos do you have? Zero. What do you think about before games, what rituals do you have? I make the sign of the cross, I believe focus is the most important thing. Which Israeli city is the Wailing Wall located in? Jerusalem. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? It’s hard to choose… there are many.
Who has played the most games in the history of the U-21 team? Santi Denia. How much did Barcelona say it paid for Neymar? Fifty million. Who is the top goalscorer in the history of the U-21 team? I think it’s Rodrigo. What did you do with your first salary? Well… I gave it to my family, and then I bought a car. Do you know which four cities this competition is being played at? Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, ummm… Petka Tiwa (Petah Tikva) and another one on that side. What symbol is at the center of the Israeli flag: a cross, a star or a crescent moon? A star. How many times has Spain won the U-21 Euro? Three. Do you remember where you watched Spain win the World Cup? Yes, Johannesburg. No, where do you watch the game? Oh, me? I was in Formentera on vacation. Do you know who was the first Israeli footballer in the Liga? Yossi Benayoun. No? How many tattoos do you have? Two. Can you tell us where? On my wrist and on my back. Can you show us? (Raises wrist) It’s more difficult to show you the one on my back [he says in another interview that he won’t be getting any more]. What do you do before games? Many things, it would take the entire day to tell you all of them. Which Israeli city is the Wailing Wall located in? Jerusalem. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? Raúl Albiol.
Who is the most recent MVP of the U-21 Euro tournament? MM: Thiago. AM: Isco? What did you do with your first salary? MM: (Laughs) I don’t remember, buy a football? AM: My first salary… buy clothes. How many tattoos do you have? MM: None. AM: Three. One on my back, another above my right glute and another on my left leg. Do you know which four cities this competition is being played at? MM: Jerusalem, Tel Aviv (laughs). AM: “Neyantay,” isn’t that one? MM: It’s a strange name. AM: Wasn’t that one, where we play on Sunday? MM: I have no idea. Peka Tiwa? What colors are the Israeli flag? Both: Blue and white. What year did Madrid win La Novena? MM: 2000? AM: I have no idea. Do you remember where you watched the World Cup final? I’m not talking about where Spain played, but where you watched it. AM: At a campground. MM: at home, with my friends and family. Rafa Nadal, Pau Gasol or Fernando Alonso? (Long awkward pause) MM: all three, no? (You can only pick one). AM: Rafael Nadal, for his consistency. MM: Me too, for how he came back from the knee injury. Do you know who the first Israeli footballer to play in the Liga was? AM: Benayoun with Racing, no? In which city would you like to live? AM: In Italy, Rome. MM: I’m good in Barcelona. Do you know how to cook? MM: only the typical, basic things. AM: I make a good ready-made pizza, I just put a frozen one in the oven… What do you do before games? I tie my boots, untie them and then re-tie them. AM: I touch the tattoo that I have here. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? AM: Jordi Alba. MM: Puyol.
Can you name the line-up of Spain in the final of the 2010 World Cup? Casillas, Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, no. Sergio Ramos, Arbeloa, Piqué, Puyol. Xavi, Iniesta. Torres. Xabi Alonso. I’m missing one, no? Where is the final of this tournament being played? In Jerusalem. What colors are the Israeli flag? White and blue. What year did Madrid win La Novena? 2002 [good madridista!]. How many tattoos do you have? None. Do you know who the first Israeli footballer to play in the Liga was? It’s not Benayoun. I have no idea. What did you do with your first salary? I didn’t go crazy, I think my parents received my first salary, so I don’t remember. Rafa Nadal, Gasol or Fernando Alonso? Rafa Nadal, because I have a lot of admiration for all that he’s won. In which city other than Madrid would you like to live? Sevilla, I like it, I heard life there is good, and I would like to get to know the city. What can you cook? Very little, pasta, tortilla, eggs, very little. What do you do before games? I always put on my right shinguard first. Do you remember where you watched the World Cup final? I watched it in Portugal, I was on vacation with my parents and so I watched it there. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? Sergio Ramos, without any doubt.
Who is the most recent MVP of the U-21 Euro tournament? I think it was Thiago. Do you know which four cities this competition is being played at? Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Netanyah and “Petka Tivah.” What colors are the Israeli flag? Blue and white. What year did Madrid win La Novena? That should be an easy question for you. Yes, of course, 2002 [fantastic madridista!]. How many tattoos do you have? None. What did you do with your first salary? I wanted to give my parents something, I paid for my parents to stay a night at hotel to thank them for all their hard work and for all they did for me. In which city would you like to live? There are many cities that I would want to live in, but for me Madrid is the best. Rafa Nadal, Gasol or Fernando Alonso? All three are big stars, but since I like tennis more, I would say Nadal. (Why?) Because I like tennis, and he’s also a madridista to the core and I have that in common with him [number one madridista!]. Do you know how to cook? Well, I try to. What can you cook? Things that make up the diet of footballers, salads, tortilla, yogurt-based dressings, chicken breast, basic things for a balanced diet. What do you do before games? I say the Lord’s Prayer, and I enter the field on my right foot. Where did you watch the final of the 2010 World Cup? I saw it in Leganés with my friends, and our families. We had a great time, and they were playing drums and flutes. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? Sergio Ramos, without any doubt.
Let’s start with an easy question for both of you. Can you name the line-up of Spain in the final of the 2010 World Cup? RM: Casillas, Arbeloa, Piqué… ÁV: No. RM: Not Piqué? ÁV: Casillas, Ramos on the right…, Ar…. ehhhh…. RM: Piqué, Puyol… ÁV: Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila… RM: Capdevila… ÁV: Busquets… RM: Busquets… Both: Xavi. ÁV: Xabi Alonso, Iniesta… RM: Iniesta. ÁV: Pedro. RM: Pedro? ÁV: Yes, I think he played. RM: And Villa. ÁV: I think Pedro played. Where is the final of this U-21 Euro being played? Both: Jerusalem. What are the colors of the Israeli flag? Both: white and blue. Which year did Madrid win La Novena? RM: 1998 [bad madridista!] ÁV: I don’t know. How many tattoos do you have? ÁV: Five. One on my arm, another on my wrist, another on my biceps, on my ribs and on my leg. RM: Three. On my wrist and on my legs. Do you know who the first Israeli footballer in the Liga was? It’s not Benayoun. Both: No idea. ÁV: Who is it? What did you do with your first salary? ÁV: I don’t remember, but I think I probably bought something for school. RM: I invited my sister to lunch. Where in the world would you like to live? ÁV: If I couldn’t choose Badalona, Rome, which I like a lot. RM: Rio. Nadal, Gasol or Fernando Alonso? RM: Nadal, because he’s impressive. ÁV: Fernando Alonso, because I like cars a lot. What can you cook? ÁV: Basic things, pasta, a bit of meat, and not much more. RM: Microwave popcorn. They come out great. ÁV: He’s very good at making that! What do you do before games? ÁV: I kiss my shinguard, which has a photo of my family on it. RM: I start getting dressed on my left side, then do the right side. Where did you watch Spain win the World Cup? ÁV: On the terrace of my house, with many friends. RM: I watched it with the U-19 team, since we were in a concentración. We had a great time. Who is your favorite player on the senior national team? ÁV: Hostia, Fernando Torres. RM: David Villa.
To end, more photos the boys have shared on the social networks they don’t use to meet girls.
Rodrigo, in fact, used Twitter to share this photo and at the same time dedicate his goal to his girl!