all set for Italy!

Our opponent tonight in the semifinal of the Confecup (21h) is Italy, who is only in the tournament because we won the World Cup, and then beat them in the final of the Euro last year.  Let’s do it again!  At stake is a place in the final, where Brazil is waiting after having avoided a repeat of the “Maracanazo.”

The game against Italy.

The team has been training all week for this semifinal match.  Well, if training includes chasing each other, piggyback rides…

… hugs…

… rolling around, ball tricks…

… posing for photos and push up contests (Sergio eventually triumphed over Javier Miñano).

Even the more serious moments were amusing, judging by San Iker’s elevation (into the heavens)…

… Vicente del Bosque’s comical exasperation at his players…

… and this exercise/game, plus PF Juan Mata being a tease.

Data, anecdote, statistics.

As always, via Mr. Chip and AS.

World champions: the 2013 Confecup is the third tournament in which all four semifinalists are World Cup winners.  That has only happened twice before, during the 1970 World Cup in Mexico (Brazil, Uruguay, Germany and Italy) and the 1990 World Cup in Italy (Argentina, Italy, Germany, England).

Unfavorable balance: Italy is one of only six national teams that has a positive record against Spain (10-12-9).  The others are England, Brazil, East Germany, Argentina and Germany.  Nigeria dropped off the list last Sunday, and Italy could do the same today.

Consecutive wins: Spain has not suffered two consecutive losses to Italy since 35 years ago, after losses in 1971 and 1978.  This is also the only precedent.

Nineteen years: Italy has not beaten Spain in an official competition during the last 19 years.  The last time was in the quarterfinals of the 1994 World Cup, a 2-1 win.  Since then, they have met each other in three final phases (the 2008 Euro and twice in the 2012 Euro), and Spain has won once and tied twice.

Record vs. champions: Italy has faced a reigning world champion six times in an official tournament and has only won once, when it beat Argentina 2-1 in the 1982 World Cup.  The other five games ended in three ties and two wins.

Six semifinals: Spain has played six semifinals in its history (one World Cup, four Eurocopas and one Confecup) and has only lost one, to the United States in the 2009 Confecup.

Top goalscorer: Fernando Torres has scored eight goals in the Confecup tournament (three in 2009, five in 2013) and is only one away from equaling the record, jointly held by Ronaldinho and Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

VDB: Vicente del Bosque will tonight become the coach with the most games in this history of the Confecup at nine, pushing him past Arena, Farina, Lapuente, Lemerre, Macala and Parreira.  This game will also be his 76th as coach of Spain, and in all of them, Spain has had more ball possession than its rival.  The last time when it didn’t was the final of the 2008 Eurocopa (Spain 48 percent, Germany 52 percent).

Howard Webb: Webb will be in charge of a La Roja game for the third time, after the 2010 World Cup opener against Switzerland and the final against the Netherlands.  Spain’s recent record with English referees is 2-3-2.

Mid-post Azpi appreciation.

The game against Nigeria.

Vicente del Bosque used the same line-up that beat Uruguay, making only one change by sitting Iker Casillas and using Víctor Valdés.  Once again, our boys were effective and dismantled Nigeria 3-0 behind two goals from Jordi Alba (chosen as the MVP of the game) and one from Fernando Torres (the current pichichi with five goals).  Jordi said after the game that he thinks this was the first time he ever scored two goals.

This win also stretched Spain’s non-losing streak to 28, a new world record.  The last loss came in the opener of the 2010 World Cup, so the streak began with Honduras in our second game on June 21.

And as always, I love pre-game moments!  This time around, we had Sergio Busquets capturing and releasing a butterfly in Xavi’s face (he didn’t seem to appreciate the gesture), and Pepe Reina fooling around with David Villa.

Everyone on this team is adorable!

Highlights of interviews.

Gerard Piqué – El Confidencial.

on the group: you go out onto the field and you feel superior.  You don’t want to believe it, because you want to keep your feet on the ground, but then you see players such as Andrés, Xavi, Busquets… you see a compact, very competitive team that has played together for many years, that has won the Eurocopa and the World Cup… it’s a pleasure to go out onto the field like that.

on Vicente del Bosque: he inspires very much tranquility, honesty.  Football is so mythologized, it appears that all of us who form part of it are special beings and then you see Vicente.  He’s an example of naturalness, of knowing how to be, of managing a team.  The best example is the day we played Chile, when he told us nothing would happen if we lost, when we all knew that we would be slaughtered if we lost. 

on being friends with the Madrid players: yes, of course, I have friends amongst the Madrid players.  The relationship is better than people believe.  I play pocha with Iker everyday, along with Monreal and Pepe Reina.  The relationship with Sergio, Albiol, Arbeloa is good.  We make bets.  The last one was how many goals Uruguay would score on Tahiti.  There is a a great relationship.

Álvaro Arbeloa – Marca.

on souvenirs from finals: I have the ball from the final of the 2008 Euro, the first game of the Confederations Cup and the final of the World Cup.  I have the three balls that were in play when the final whistle blew.  Then during the 2012 Euro, I completely forgot about going after the ball.  It was strange to win a final 4-0.  During the second half, there was practically none of that tension of a final.  It was a sensation of joy, nothing like that of Vienna or Johannesburg.  It was a different kind of joy.

En cinco toques.”

What is your first memory of the national team?  Hierro’s goal against Denmark, the one that qualified us for the World Cup in the United States.

What is the most unusual thing a female fan has asked of you?  The most unusual?  I don’t think anyone has asked me anything unusual, I can’t think of any.

What will you do if Spain wins the Confecup?  Well, I don’t know, go on vacation (laughs).

What note will you give to Madrid’s season?  A four.

Who is the last person you followed on Twitter?  Do people say awful things to you via Twitter?  I think Pepe Reina, because I didn’t know that he was on Twitter.  And many awful things are said, but I’m not as active on it as I was before.

Nacho Monreal – Marca’s “En cinco toques.”

What are the best and worst things about living in England?  The worst is without a doubt the weather, that’s the worst there us.  I went from living in Málaga to London, so you can imagine how that was.  The best?  What has impressed me the most is the respect of the people.  They’re very respectful, on the streets, in general terms, and that’s something I really like.

What is your first memory of the national team?  My first memory?  I would say a goal by Andoni Goikoetxea, then I had Andoni as a coach and so I remembered that goal.

What is the most unusual thing a female fan has asked of you?  The most unusual?  No one has asked for anything unusual… one has asked for money, another asked me to come to her son’s birthday party… things like that.

Harry Potter or Torrente?  Torrente is pure Spanish stock, no?  I like movies a lot and I laughed a lot.

What will you do if Spain wins the Confecup?  Celebrate it, in addition the next week will be the San Fermines and it can be phenomenal.  The last time I went was three years ago.

Andrés Iniesta – Cuatro’s “Un minuto sin fútbol.”

What song would you play during this interview?  Well, my favorite group is Estopa, so “Como Camarón” could be a good choice.  How would you like to be remembered?  As a great person and a great player.  A vacation spot for after the Confecup: I don’t know if I should reveal it, but… normally I go to Italy, I try to go to tranquil places to enjoy my family.  A TV series recommendation: “Gran Reserva,” due to my winery business.  A person you’d like to resemble: in terms of football, my idols Guardiola or Laudrup, or Denzel Washington, whom I love, and as an athlete, Michael Jordan.  A dream: I dream of continuing to be happy with what I have around me, with what I do, and with what I have, I think that’s enough.  A food you miss.  Ice cream?  Yes, I do miss ice cream since I don’t have Kalise here.  A piece of advice for politicians: it’s always good to listen, to know what the people are thinking; we are all trying to make things improve for everyone.   

Sergio Ramos – various interviews.

on Iker Casillas: the relationship I have with him is different from the rest, I equate it with my relationship with Navas, since we have known each other for many years and we have shared professional and personal experiences.  I know what he has gone through, I like to see him smile, to feel like a starter again.  No one doubts what Iker means to our national team, our club, he’s a symbol, an example.  When he’s not with us, he should continue to be linked to the national team, for what he represents and what he means.  I am happy that he’s surrounded by people who love him and support him, for us that’s very important.

on the cockroaches in the hotel: you could name them, because they’re so big.  Navas was in my room and I was wondering if the noise was him or the cockroach.  They’re about the same size (laughs).

on being the DJ: I have a wide selection of music.  There are great DJs in Miami and New York, and so we got new songs.  The latest one is one by Pitbull and my friend Red One, which I play a lot.  You try to have a mix to suit everyone and to pump everyone up before the games.

on a possible career as a bullfighter: right now I can’t bullfight, but when I retire I might fight in a festival with a bullfighter friend such as Talavante or Manzanita.  We’ll see!

on playing with long sleeves despite the heat and humidity: that’s my custom, also superstition, it usually goes well for me, and I can always roll up the sleeves a bit.

He also told AS that the beard is for his father, Cuatro that he doesn’t have breakfast on game days but his normal breakfast is toast with turkey and cheese plus juice, and “El partido de las 12” that if he scores a goal, he will reveal an ongoing bet he has with Albiol.  Score score score Sergio!

Pepe Reina and David Villa – Adidas.

Adidas got Pepe to take part in David Villa’s Adidas interview, and they started out by testing how much they know each other.  For some reason, David’s slouching really bothers me, I want to reach over and push him straight!

PR: what year was I born in?  DV: 1982.  PR: what day is my birthday? DV: the 18th of… March.  (Pepe cracks up).  August, of course.  The 20th of August.  The 30th of August.  PR: More.  DV: the 31st.  PR: what are the names of my children?  DV: Grecia, Alma, Luca and Thiago.  PR: when did I debut with the senior national team?  DV: the same as me I believe, 2005.  PR: I was born in Madrid, but am an adopted son of what city?  DV: Córdoba.

DV: how many games have I played with the national team?   PR: until when?  DV: today, of course.  PR: 91.  DV: what team was I playing for when I debuted with the national team?  PR: Zaragoza.  DV: this one is very easy.  Where was I born?  PR: Tuilla!  DV: nooooo!  Not Tuilla.  PR: no?  In Asturias somewhere. DV: Riaño, Langreo, Asturias.  DV: what year did I score my first goal with the senior national team?  PR: 2005.  DV: what are the name of my three children?  PR: your children?  DV: yes.  PR: ehhhh, Luca, Olaya and… DV: with “l”s or a “y”?  PR: with two “l”s.  DV: no, you’re wrong.  PR: with a “y”?  DV: with a “y,” it’s Asturian [Adidas got it wrong then.]

Other things.

Several days ago, Brazilian media outlet Globoesporte published an article alleging that the robbery of money from several Spanish players came after a private party at their hotel with “beer, caipirinhas and a game of strip poker.”  The party supposedly took place at the Golden Tulip in Recife after the game against Uruguay, a samba troupe was hired to perform at the party, and five players and one coaching staff member ended up playing strip poker with five women in one of their rooms.  These were the five players who were subsequently robbed.

The RFEF issued a statement denying the entire report, saying it was trying to besmirch the good name of the team and the honor and professionalism of the players.

Gerard Piqué responded via “El partido de las 12” that “all of it is a lie, and in the end the lies will be exposed” and “being in a hotel and being robbed is a very unpleasant experience.  I suppose they didn’t want this to come out and so they responded with this.”  David Villa told Onda Cero that “it’s a complete lie, we’re calm,” while Jordi Alba said “what was said is completely false.”  During a press conference, Sergio Ramos said, “you can’t play with the reputation of Spain and with families, children, girlfriends.  We have a completely clean and honest history.  I don’t know if it’s a strategy, but the team won’t be destabilized by these things and comments which aren’t important.”

I also loved Vicente del Bosque’s response.  He was asked if the was the member of the coaching staff supposedly partying with the players, and he said, “when we went to Argentina after the World Cup, there were reports previously that I was dancing on a table until the early hours of the morning.  I have never danced on top of a table, nor under a table…  This is the same thing.”  That image makes me laugh!

And I think the Brazilian press is just trying to destabilize us, since they know we’re the team to beat.

A little Tahiti appreciation.

I love how they finished their participation in the Confecup, by tying Brazilian flags around their shoulders and holding up a sign that said “thank you Brazil!”  They not only won over the Brazilian fans, but the entire world.  So we should be thanking Tahiti, no?  So, merci and māuruuru.

La Rojita.

The U-20 team is also in action tonight!  Spain will play France in the last group stage game of the U-20 World Cup (19h).  Spain can finish atop the group with a tie or better.  Let’s go La Roja and La Rojita!

Posted on June 27, 2013, in games, interviews, la rojita, players, team, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Thanks always for making these posts!!! I enjoy them so so much! :D They make my day!!

    Much love <3 <3

  2. Thanks for the post! In the hugging picture, what a height difference between I believe Santi and Pique. BTW, Howard Webb, final between Spain and Netherlands, no :)? (Not Germany). San Iker can fly! Albiol did say that Iker went to a school for angels. Not sure how Pepe didn’t know the names of Villa’s kids…

    And the accusations were just crazy. Can’t imagine the guys doing anything of the sort. And especially after reading about them from Los Secretos, and that’s when most of them were young and single!

    Good luck to La Roja and La Rojita! And thank you Tahiti!!!

  3. Do you know who is the face Sergio got tattooed on his left arm ?! I feel like he’s gotten so many new ones I can’t keep up !

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