all set for Brazil!

Spain will be taking on Brazil in the final of the Confecup (Monday, 00h) after beating Italy following an agonizing penalty shootout that luckily had a happy ending.

Hopefully we’ll be able to pull off another Maracanazo and add to our trophy collection the only one that has resisted us so far!

Preparations for the game.

The team traveled to Rio on Friday (apparently they had wanted to travel following the game on Thursday, but FIFA refused to allow them alleging there were no flights and no places to stay, despite the fact that the media did make the trip successfully), and trained on Friday (at Vasco da Gama’s São Januario) and on Saturday (at the Maracanã).

There was a special guest at Saturday’s training session, Fernando Hierro!  Our former captain and sporting director, who ranks fourth on the all time goalscoring list and tenth on the all time appearances list, was very affectionate with Iker, as well as Javi Martínez, Sergio Busquets, Jesús Navas and Xavi, among others.

Stats, anecdotes, data.

As always, via Mr. Chip and AS.

Triple crown: if Spain wins the Confecup, it will be the current world, continental and confederation champion, something that only Brazil (1997-98, 2005-06) and France (2000-02) have achieved.

Fourteen years: Spain and Brazil have played each other eight times, with a balance of 2-2-4 for Spain.  They haven’t played each other since a friendly in 1999 (0-0 in Vigo), and haven’t played an official game since the 1986 World Cup (0-1 in Guadalajara, Mexico).  The last time they played each other in Brazil was in 1981 (0-1 in Salvador).  Spain’s last win against Brazil was in 1990 (3-0 in Gijón).

Twice in Brazil: Spain and Brazil have played twice before on Brazilian soil.  The first game was on July 13, 1950 in the Maracanã, where Brazil beat Spain 6-1.  The second and last game until today was played on July 8, 1981 in Salvador and the result was 0-1, with Baltazar scoring the goal.

The 1934 World Cup: Spain was the first national team to eliminate Brazil in a World Cup with the straight knockout format.  On May 27, 1934 in Genoa, Spain won 3-1.

No meetings: the actual generation of Spanish and Brazilian players have managed to avoid each other for a long time.  In 2006, they didn’t meet up in the World Cup due to Spain’s loss to France in the round of 16.  In 2009, they avoided each other in the Confecup final after the United States beat Spain in the semifinals.  In 2010, the Netherlands prevented a Brazil-Spain World Cup final after eliminating Brazil in the quarterfinals.  In 2011, Spain rejected an invitation to take part in the Copa América.

Defeated: Del Bosque’s Spain (76 games) has beaten all of the world champions except Brazil: Uruguay (two wins), Italy (one win, two ties and one loss), Germany (one win), England (one win and one loss), Argentina (one win and one loss) and France (three wins and one tie).

Experience: Spain has faced the host country 12 times during the final phases, with only two wins, both against South Africa in the 2009 Confecup.  In the other 10 games, Spain tied four times and lost six times (including a loss to Brazil at the Maracanã in the 1950 World Cup).

Overtime: Spain arrives in the final after playing an overtime, while Brazil only needed 90 minutes to eliminate Uruguay.  This will be the ninth time in a FIFA tournament for senior national teams that this has happened, and at the moment the advantage goes to the team that eliminated its semifinal rival in regulation (5-3 overall, 2-1 in the Confecup).

At the Maracanã: Brazil has played 103 times at the Maracanã, with a record of 74-23-6, and 251 goals in favor and 70 against.  The last loss there was on April 29, 1998 to Argentina (0-1).  Brazil has played a European rival 44 times at the Maracanã (41 friendlies, three 1950 World Cup games), with a record of 29-13-2.  The two losses were at the hands of Czechoslovakia (0-1, Aug. 5, 1956) and England (0-2, June 10, 1984).  Brazil has played 27 official games at the Maracanã, with a record of 20-6-1 (the only loss was the Maracanazo, the 1-2 loss to Uruguay on July 16, 1950).

Winning in the Americas: no European country has won a FIFA tournament for senior national teams played in the Americas.  The only European teams to have won were youth teams: the USSR won the 1987 U-17 World Cup in Canada, Yugoslavia won the 1987 U-20 World Cup in Chile, and France won the 2001 U-17 World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.

Triple champions: a total of 25 players have won the World Cup, Eurocopa/Copa América, and the Confecup: one Argentine (Ruggeri), 13 Brazilians (Aldair, Bebeto, Cafú, Denilson, Dunga, Gilberto Silva, Kléberson, Leonardo, Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Romario, Ronaldinho and Ronaldo), and 11 French (Barthez, Desailly, Djorkaeff, Dugarry, Henry, Karembeu, Leboeuf, Lizarazu, Pires, Thuram and Vieira).  If Spain wins, 18 players will be added to this list (everyone called up for this tournament, except for Azpilicueta, Alba, Soldado, Monreal and Cazorla).

Challenge for Del Bosque: only Zagallo and Parreira have coached teams to wins in the World Cup, Confecup and the corresponding continental championship (the Copa América in this case).  Del Bosque could join the list today if Spain wins.

The game against Italy.

Once again, it came down to penalties against Italy in a nerve-wracking elimination game (as PF Juan Mata said, “this was one of the most difficult and emotional games of my life”), after Spain and Italy played to a 0-0 in regulation and then overtime.  In a way, it was fitting because the turning point for La Roja came precisely during a penalty shootout against Italy, during the 2008 Eurocopa.  That was the day that our fortunes changed, the day we cast off our demons and the day we began believing our national team was destined for success.  Nevertheless, the shootout was agonizing.  If it was that difficult for us spectators, imagine what the players were feeling!  César and David Silva couldn’t even watch, while Vicente del Bosque had to sit down.

Jordi Alba was another who couldn’t bear to watch, and we can see all the tension by how the players were positioned.

This time around, Iker didn’t need to be a hero (even so, he was named the Man of the Match), because it was Italy that eventually messed up during its seventh penalty.  Players from Spain and Italy both made their first six penalties each – for us, it was Xavi, then Iniesta, then Piqué, then Sergio, then Juan Mata, then Busquets.  Leonardo Bonucci then sent Italy’s seventh penalty over the crossbar.  Jesús Navas stepped up, calmly took his and made it, and we were on to the final.

Toni Grande had been responsible for determining the first five penalty shot takers, and then Xavi decided on the rest after both teams made their first five.  After the game, Sergio Busquets said that was only the second penalty he had taken in his life, and he had missed the first one, which occurred during the 2010 edition of the Trofeu Joan Gamper against AC Milan.  Jesús said his was dedicated to “my family, my wife, my son and this team, which deserves everything.”  Meanwhile, Sergio said he hadn’t even considered taking a Panenka-style shot.

Also of note: Javi Martínez ended up playing as Spain’s nine!  The most “falso” of the “falsos nueves” we’ve had…  Fernando Torres joked after the game that “if Javi had scored, then we would have another debate on our hands,” while Sergio Busquets said, “he’s finished as a midfielder.”  And Javi said Giorgio Chiellini had asked him during the game, “what are you doing here, aren’t you a defender?  How can you play as a defender, midfielder and now forward?”  Vicente del Bosque explained his decision after the game: “it was very clear, we couldn’t lose height because we were suffering during free kicks and Javi gave us aerial play, strength, generosity and the ability to go from area to area.  When I told him, his response was what I expected.”  Javi revealed that he had told VDB, “I’m happy to do so, that seems perfect to me.”  He added, “I had a fantastic time.  I was enjoying myself so much that I was sad when the game ended.”  He was saying this in the mixed zone, and at that point, Raúl Albiol passed by with a shout of “¡Vamos nueve!”

And I loved these moments between the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime.  As the players were exhausted, the fisios and their teammates were helping them to stretch, such as Javi with Sergio.  They also gave each other encouragement, as we can see with Sergio and Jesús, Rober and Álvaro…

… and Iker and Pepe.

The love for Iker continued after the game.  As Sergio said earlier, here he’s surrounded by people who love him.

And it wasn’t just his teammates, as Iker shared several great moments with Gianluigi Buffon.

After the game, Andrés posted this photo on his Facebook…

… while Sergio tweeted about his little bird, Jesús.  Apparently, Jesús is known as “the crazy bird” to his teammates, as Pepe has called him that in the last two celebrations.

Mid-post Sergio Ramos ass appreciation. 


Gerard Piqué – “En cinco toques.”

Which Spanish national team defender impressed you as a child?  Fernando Hierro was always an example for me even though he played for Real Madrid.  He was a very, very important player for the national team and for his club.  He was always a mirror for me [Geri received a big hug from Fernando at the training session on Saturday; how nice it must be to become friends with your idol!].

How did you come up with the idea for Golden Manager, the videogame you created?  From the time I was a kid, I had always played PC Fútbol.  I always wanted to create a videogame having to do with football.  We created it to be played via social networks and against the computer and friends.  The experience has been great.  You can sign players, sell them, make line-ups…

What type of music do you listen to during the concentraciones?    I listen to ’80s music, from The Cranberries to U2 to Coldplay… this kind of music.

What is the most unusual request you’ve received from a female fan?  I don’t know, I don’t remember.  They ask you for shirts, autographs… right now I can’t remember.

What will you do if Spain wins the Confecup?  Rest a lot during my vacation, it’s time for that.

Álvaro Arbeloa – Adidas.

on the penalty shootout against Italy: it was a bad experience (laughs), very nerve-wracking.  It’s like that for any fan, and for us, even more so.  And with no one missing, it was even more nerve-wracking.  I don’t know if I would have even made it to the area if it came down to me to shoot one, because I was so tired, but after Jesús there was only Jordi, Javi and me left, so it almost came down to that.

Other things.

This is an adorable video about Andrés and a 10-year-old boy from Murcia named Diego.  Diego was recently involved in a car accident when the scooter he was riding with his grandfather (?) was hit by a car.  At the time of the accident, he was wearing a La Roja jersey, concretely that of Iniesta.  In the hospital, the nurses began to cut off the shirt so that he could be x-rayed, but he told them not to.  In the end, there was no other option and the shirt was cut off.  Diego said the destruction of the shirt hurt more than his wounds, because Iniesta was “the one who scored a goal in the final of the World Cup and because he’s a great dribbler.”  Cuatro got in touch with Andrés in Brazil and asked him to sign a shirt for Diego, which Andrés quickly agreed to.  He wrote, “for my friend Diego, with very much affection,” and as you can see, it made Diego’s year.

La Rojita.

Spain continued its dominance in the U-20 World Cup in Turkey with a 2-0 win over France in the last group stage game.  Jesé assisted on the first goal which was scored by Paco Alcácer and scored the second one himself.  Spain now faces Mexico in the round of 16 game, which will take place on July 2.

And check out this video of Jesé, Óliver and Saúl showing off their skills!

End of the post Azpi appreciation.

It looks like someone got a haircut!  Anyway, during his video with Adidas, Vicente del Bosque was asked about the new additions for this tournament.  He responded, “we’re very content with how this issue has turned out, because a good relationship between the players is the foundation of success, and in our case it’s fantastic, especially given the situation where some play and some don’t.  All the new players came in with great recommendations, in the case of César Azpilicueta, he’s a boy who is very much loved by all the youth team coaches and he has confirmed all the opinions we had of him.”



Posted on June 30, 2013, in games, interviews, la rojita, players, team, training and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. OMG, the Spain v. Italy game was so nerve wracking, especially the penalty shoot out. I always wondered what the players felt, and I guess the same! Ha ha ha, Chiellini about Javi. Thanks for these anecdotes Una, one of the many reasons that I read your post! Loved the great moments between Iker and Buffon.

    Speaking of Iniesta and jerseys, loved when his wife posted an adorable post of him and Valeria in Iniesta jerseys with Daddy you’re the best.

    Vamos La Roja!!!! I wish them all the luck! I hope they continue some streaks and start changing some stats in their favor. Todos con la roja!!!! And I want to see Una add another gif of Iker raising a trophy!!

  2. i could barely watch the penalty shootouts! this one was too nerve-wracking! i had the spain-portugal eurocup match in my head the whole time. im sure my screaming concerned a few of our neighbors as well haha.

    but it was great! and i’m so glad spain pulled through in the end.

    i was also surprised when javi was subbed in for fernando torres, i was like wait, javi’s… a defender? right? haha. but he did great! :D

    i’m super excited and anxious for the game today. but vamos españa!

  3. i’m all antsy and nervous and anxious and excited and scared for tonight! the odds are against us, but these two generations of players have never really played against each other, so as far as i’m concerned it’s a clean slate and anything is possible!

    that penalty shootout — my heart rate! i so desperately wanted iker to save just one, just to shut his critics up (i’ve already read “see? this is why mou benched him” comments). it wasn’t to be, but i’m so happy to see how beloved and treasured he is by all his teammates regardless (and the photos with hierro and gigi especially just warm my heart). penalty shootouts are part skill and part luck and i feel for the goalies, regardless of which teams are involved. i wish sometimes they could change the rules and just play until sudden death.

    viva espana!!

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