all set for Tahiti!

I won’t get around to La Rojita’s campeones post until later this week, so in the meantime, here’s one on La Roja, who takes on Tahiti today (21h) at the legendary Maracanã in Rio in their second game of the Confederations Cup.

The game against Tahiti.

We will be seeing some changes to the line-up, according to how vests were distributed during the training sessions this week.  VDB also said he intends to make rotations and give minutes to those who haven’t gotten to play yet.  One of the changes will be in the goal, and both Pepe and VV could play during the game.  During the press conference, VDB also said, “those who said Valdés wouldn’t fit in here were wrong.  He’s a good boy and he has shown that,” and revealed that he had met up with Carles Puyol last week in New York and is keeping an eye on his situation.

The training sessions this week in Rio were full of fun, as we can see below.  We had Álvaro Arbeloa being crazy, and Chori and Sergio Ramos ganging up on Iker Casillas while he was being stretched.

Mmmm… a sweaty Azpi too.

There has also been a lot of debate about who VDB should play in the goal.  There’s already a lot of competition between Iker, Pepe and VV, since we are lucky enough to have three fantastic goalkeepers, and this week we got more contenders for the goal: Sergio Busquets, PF Juan Mata and Sergio Ramos!  That should keep Iker, Pepe and Víctor on their toes!

And David Villa gave us our first scare of the tournament, when he left practice to receive treatment.  Every player should receive this treatment on their hip areas everyday, with photographers present!

Iker and Xavi also watched La Rojita win the U-21 Euro against Italy on Tuesday!  Iker seemed a bit nervous for them…

Stats, anecdotes, curiosities.

As always, via AS and Mr. Chip.

Spain-Oceania: Spain has only played once against a national team from Oceania.  It was the first game of the 2009 Confederations Cup, when Spain beat New Zealand 5-0.  That day, Fernando Torres scored the fastest hat trick in the history of the national team, three goals in 10 minutes and 57 seconds.

Maracanã: Spain plays for the fourth time at the legendary stadium, having played there against Chile, England and Brazil in the 1950 World Cup.  Zarra scored his famous goal there against England on July 2, 1950, and Spain also suffered the third worst defeat in its history, 1-6 against Brazil on July 13, 1950 (the other two are 1-7 against Italy in the 1928 Olympics and 1-7 against England in a 1931 friendly).  Only three players have scored for Spain at the Maracanã: Basora (June 29, 1950 against Chile), Zarra (June 29, 1950 against Chile and July 2, 1950 against England) and Igoa (July 13, 1950 against Brazil).

Highest goalscoring games: Spain’s highest goalscoring game is from May 21, 1933, when they beat Bulgaria 13-0.  Chacho scored six of the goals in the friendly.  If we speak of official games, that would be the legendary 12-1 against Malta.

More than three goals: nine players have scored three or more goals during one game: Chacho (six), Lángara (5), Rubio (4), Zarra (4), Tejada (4), Rincón (4), Santillana (4), Butragueño (4) and Raúl (4).  Only Butragueño managed to do so in the final phase of a World Cup, Eurocopa or Confecup.

Soldado, 10 of 10: Soldado has won his 10 first games with Spain.  The players who have won the most consecutive games from their debut are Albiol (27), Arbeloa (16), Busquets (13), Negredo (11) and Soldado (10).

101 games on neutral fields: today’s game is Spain’s 101st on a neutral field.  For the previous 100 games, the balance is 60-19-21.  With Vicente del Bosque, the record is 21-2 (Italy and Portugal)-2 (U.S. and Switzerland), with 48 goals in favor and 13 against.

And according to Marca, only one member of Tahiti’s team is a professional footballer.  There are also eight who are unemployed, two teachers, three students, three deliverymen, a stocker, an accountant, a mountain climber, an administrator, a trainer and a coach.

The game against Uruguay. 

Andrés Iniesta was the MVP of the match and Pedro and Roberto Soldado scored as Spain earned a 2-1 victory over Uruguay in a game that some are calling La Roja’s best ever.

I loved how Iker’s teammates rallied around him, giving him support after his dramatic season.  As always, Sergio was very affectionate with Iker, and after the game Busi, Javi, Piqué, Jordi Alba also embraced him.

The porra.

As we know, the task of organizing the porra usually falls to Carles Puyol (or rather, he takes it upon himself to organize it).  This year, he is of course absent, and Sergio Busquets has taken over the duties.  Busi had already done this before, during the last Eurocopa.  This year, however, he forget about it, and so on the morning that the competition was about to start, with the game between Brazil and Japan, Vicente del Bosque (winner of the 2009 Confederations Cup edition) waited for Busquets at breakfast and told him, “what happened, you don’t have time or money or what?”  Busquets, who was still half asleep, didn’t understand what the coach was talking about, and didn’t understand until VDB said, “you have to do the porra, no?”  He spent the rest of the day organizing it and got it done before kickoff.  It costs 50 euros to enter, and the players and staff can enter individually or in groups.  They are betting on the outcomes of all the games and the top goalscorer.  And apparently, some of the players have also bet on the outcome of the NBA Finals!  Go Spurs Go!

A little mid-post Pepe!


Javi Martínez spoke to El País (the photos are from a less interesting interview with Marca).  Here are some highlights:

on playing sports: I always wanted to be an athlete, in whatever sport.  And my mother said to me, “Decide.”  I was good at basketball, in Navarra I won a three-point shooting contest and I got a scholarship to go to Alicante.  When I got there, I realized there was also a football campus and I signed up.  But I was with younger players, and I got bored, so I went to the basketball one.  I had already played for Logroñés when I was 10.  I was already very tall.  I lasted nine days at the campus.  It was 15 days long and my parents had to come get me because I missed them.  I’ve always been the home-loving sort.

on the sacrifices his parents made: I enjoyed myself, they were the ones making sacrifices.  If I’m here, it’s due to their efforts, not mine.  I had a great time, and they were the ones taking the blows, and at times I don’t think I’ll ever be able to thank them enough.  My father and mother spent the whole day working, and on afternoons she would leave the butcher shop to take me to train, every afternoon!  My uncle had to come take over.  Thanks to them, I’m a footballer. 

on Ayegui and lifelong friends: in Ayegui, I’m just another guy, and I still receive slaps on the back of my neck, as always.  My friends and I were ready to set off on a road trip of Route 66 in the U.S. in the summer of 2010, but I was lucky enough to get called up for the World Cup and we had to put it off.  Then there was the 2011 U-21 Euro, the 2012 Eurocopa… so it’s still pending.  At least this trip I got to go to Miami and New York.

on languages: [some club talk because it goes on to something I wanted to highlight] my teammates are Bayern are great, and they’re so nice that they didn’t make me sing as a hazing ritual when I arrived, since I didn’t know German.  Since I didn’t understand anything, they didn’t make me do it.  That’s why I continue to say that I can’t speak at all…  Heynckes was a great help, since he would give talks in German and then explain to me in Spanish.  In the beginning, it was tough, because we would eat together and I was there all silent, I spent hours and hours listening to them and I felt ridiculous.  I understood Heynckes quickly because he speaks German very clearly.  There are others who speak like Navas in Spanish.  I don’t even understand Jesús in Spanish!  [Jajaja!!!!!]

on life in Germany: one day, I met Beckenbauer and I was on the verge of asking him for a photo, but I was too embarrassed.  Oktoberfest is great, but you have to go dressed in the Bavarian costume.  If you don’t, everyone looks at you strangely.  I’ll buy the costume this year.  The difference with San Fermín is that it starts very early and is over by midnight.  At this hour, San Fermín hasn’t even really started yet.


Is it any surprise that I adored these tweets from PF Juan Mata and Geri Piqué?

(Speaking of basketball, Marca ran a profile of the friendship between Roberto Soldado and Álvaro Arbeloa, and there was this interesting fact: Arbeloa calls Roberto Soldier or Chauncey, after Chauncey Billups, who was the player Soldado always chose when they played NBA on Play.  Roberto calls Álvaro Vareta or Tracy, for Tracy McGrady, who was his chosen one.  So Arbeloa should like the Spurs then!)


Highlights from some videos.

Pf Juan Mata for Adidas.

I have never been in Brazil, but my Brazilian teammates on Chelsea have told me there are many great places in Brazil.  I wear the number 13.  I debuted with the national team while wearing the 6, because Andrés was absent.  A few games later, the 13 was free, and I chose it, and scored a goal in the next game, so I continued wearing it and it continued bringing me good luck, as I scored in three straight games, so I stuck with it.  I always step onto the field with my right foot.  Before the games of the national team, we listen to the music that Sergio Ramos chooses for us, he’s the one that puts on the music in the locker room, and he usually selects… well, now that we’re in Brazil, he’s putting on salsa and samba music, which wakes you up.

Roberto Soldado for Adidas.

I usually spend my free time with my family, my kids, I can spend the whole afternoon playing with them when they return home from school.  The best memory I have with the national team is the day of my debut, it was the most special day, and it took place five or six years ago, and then there was a long time when I wasn’t called up.  The day of my debut is without a doubt the most special day of all.  The best goal I’ve scored with La Roja is perhaps the first one, the most special one of all, because it’s really difficult to get called up for the national team.  The objective of the team is to be champions, and we want to win the Confederations Cup.

Santi Cazorla for Adidas.

I change my pre-game rituals depending on how the previous game went.  If we won, many times I try to repeat what I did the week before, and when we lose, I change it up, so I don’t have any set rituals.  When I was small, I really liked Michael Laudrup, and when I grew up, I liked Zidane, and now it’s clear that everyone loves players such as Messi or Cristiano.  On the national team, Iniesta is for me a different player.

He also did Cuatro’s “one minute without football” test.

How do you define yourself?  It’s difficult to define oneself, but I try to be a good person.  What do you do in your spare time?  All of us get together often to talk, to play parchís, cards, and I also spend time in my room.  Do you go on the Internet?  Often, but it’s slow here, so it’s a bit complicated.  Why would you go to Brazil if not for the Confecup?  For vacation, as there are some beautiful places.  Give us a movie recommendation.  My preferred movie is Braveheart.  A wish.  To win the Confederations Cup.  The last piece of advice you received.  To be the same person I was when I was a kid.  A dream.  To win the World Cup.  Who is the first person you call after games?  My family – my girlfriend, my brother, my family.  What do you say to them?  It depends on how the game went.  A piece of advice for Rajoy.  That’s difficult, there are so many problems in Spain right now, so it’s complicated to give advice, but I would say, try and create work for those who need it and hopefully this will help to solve the economic problems.

Iker Casillas for Adidas.

(On social networks) I like to interact with my fans, to share with them the things I’m doing, and it’s also a way to open up your life to them.  I have been to Brazil, 13 years ago, when we played in the first Club World Championships.  I love playing cards, but if I had to choose between mus and pocha, I prefer mus.  (A message for the U-21 team) Congratulations to everyone for the title you won, a sincere congratulations from me and from everyone in our delegation here in Brazil for the Confederations Cup, we’re very proud.  The future of Spanish football is secure, but don’t be content with this, we have to continue on this path, continue fighting, and continue bringing joy to Spain, which is what everyone wants.

David Villa for La Energía de La Roja.

A great memory I have is of my father giving me my first ball, although I think he already gave me one before I can remember.  Of course I was excited, just like any other kid, and I ran out of the house as quickly as I could to play with it.  In Tuilla, we had a great futsal pitch which is still around, but we also played in the plazas, with benches as goals, all those things.  My first pair of boots were also from my father.  Imagine how it was, for any kid it’s a treasure, your first pair of boots, being able to feel like a footballer.  Before, you would play with your friends while wearing sneakers, you have a good time, but it’s not the same because once you have your first pair of boots, you begin feeling like a footballer.  My room was full of the medals, awards that I received once I began competing, and I liked to display them.  My mother has left the room exactly how I left it, and when I go back, I see all of it again.  Luis Enrique and Juanele were my references in my career.  I was always very shy, and so whenever I wanted an autograph, I would get my older sister to go with me and ask for me.  I had many idols as a child, and I can’t remember who was the first autograph I got, but it could have been Luis Enrique.  My father has never missed a training session or game, well perhaps when he worked, but he retired when I was a kid.  In the beginning when he was still working, he would arrange his shifts so that he could take me to my training sessions and watch them.  My first shirt was also a present from my parents, and it was one of the Spanish national team, in fact.  I was very excited about it, to put it on, to wear it to play my friends and show it off.  As I said before, when you’re playing in the plaza with your sweatpants and sneakers, having the shirt of a team, in this case the national team, makes you feel more important.  I still have the shirt from my debut, it was a very, very happy day for me because I was very young, I played for Sporting, where I dreamed of debuting at El Molinón.  It was a great joy because at that moment my spot wasn’t assured and I was lucky to have a coach with confidence in me.  I’m not one to give out much advice, but for kids, I would advise children to love this sport because it’s a wonderful, marvelous sport, it’s a hobby, but you can also approach it as a profession where you will experience great moments that you never even dreamed about.  And to go to train each day with this desire, this desire to enjoy this sport, to love it, and to never stop fighting to achieve your objectives, and to surpass yourself each day.  Think about how you can improve yourself in each training session.  An unforgettable memory would be… this question makes me think about Champions League finals, goals in the World Cup, important goals with Valencia and Zaragoza, the first one with Sporting and with the national team, I have so many memories, and each one is very important to me.


Álvaro Arbeloa shared a photo of him and Juan Mata at the Maracanã; both of them had spent some time before the training session admiring the stadium and taking photos of it.

And Santi shared this one of him and Team Asturias (Luarca, Llanera, Tuilla and Oviedo, respectively).


Posted on June 20, 2013, in interviews, players, team, training, videos and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Thank you for all of the work that you put into these posts!

    Here’s hoping for 10-0 against Tahiti, vamos!

  2. Emma Tiede (@Justicerocks11)

    Oh Busi lol :) He would want to practice is goaltending skills in a training session. Instead of buying a new goalie Barca should just use him :)

  3. Una, thanks so much for taking the time to translate the interviews and all the little anecdotes. But these two were the funniest. The about VDB and Busi and the porra: “what happened, you don’t have time or money or what?”. Ha ha ha. I’m just trying to imagine this VDB and Busi conversation at breakfast. And Javi not understanding Navas in Spanish. Ha ha ha! Is it because he’s from Andalusia? Glad that Iker has so much support! And even being ganged up on. And um, more hip pictures please players! Glad Villa’s doing well, and thank you for that picture (because of the scare)!

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