it’s time for Africa…
It’s international week again, and this time we’re going to Africa! We’ll be playing two friendlies there, against Equatorial Guinea in Malabo on Nov. 16, and against South Africa at Soccer City in Johannesburg on Nov. 19, which should bring back some great memories! These are La Roja’s last games in 2013, and the team won’t get together again until March 2014 (concretely, March 5 for a friendly against Italy in Madrid).
The call-up list is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Iker Casillas, Pepe Reina, Víctor Valdés.
Defenders: Juanfran Torres, Álvaro Arbeloa, Sergio Ramos, Raúl Albiol, Íñigo Martínez, Alberto Moreno, Nacho Monreal, Marc Bartra*.
Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Javi Martínez, Santi Cazorla, Andrés Iniesta, Koke Resurrección,
Cesc Fàbregas, Juan Mata, Jesús Navas.
Forwards: David Villa, Álvaro Negredo,
Diego Costa, Pedro Rodríguez, Fernando Llorente*.
The most eye-catching name on that list is of course that of Diego Costa, following the brief tug-of-war Spain and Brazil had over him. In the end, he declared that he wanted to play for Spain, and was called up by Vicente del Bosque. Diego Costa will be the sixth Brazilian player to suit up for La Roja, after Heraldo Bezerra, Catanha, Donato, Marcos Senna and Thiago.
VDB also explained that the absences of Xavi and Gerard Piqué are due to the fact that he wanted to rest them after speaking with them. As for Carles Puyol, he said that if he’s good in the lead-up to the World Cup, he will be in Brazil with Spain.
As for the itinerary, Spain will begin the concentración at 10:30h on Nov. 13 at the Ciudad de Fútbol. That day, they’ll present the shirt that Spain will wear for the 2014 World Cup and train (I hope it’s a nice one!). The next day, the team will train again before departing for Malabo at one in the morning (of Nov. 15). It will take six hours to reach the capital of Equatorial Guinea. After resting, the team will train at the Nuevo Estadio de Malabo, where the game will be played on Nov. 16 (22h). Following the game, the team will depart for Johannesburg, arriving on the morning of Nov. 17. The game will be played at Soccer City on Nov. 19.
* Since the initial list, Diego Costa and Cesc have become injured, and VDB has called up Fernando Llorente and Marc Bartra to replace them, respectively. This is Marc’s first ever call-up.
As for the U-21 team, they’ll also be playing a pair of games during this international week, qualifiers for the 2015 U-21 Euro against Bosnia on Nov. 14 and Albania on Nov. 18.
Goalkeepers: Dani Sostres, Fernando Pacheco, Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Defenders: Javier Manquillo, Dani Carvajal, Jordi Amat, Sergi Gómez, Marc Muniesa, Juan Bernat.
Midfielders: Sergi Roberto, Sergi Darder,
Rubén Pardo, Óliver Torres, Saúl Ñíguez, Carles Gil, Pablo Sarabia, Jairo Samperio, José Campaña*.
Forwards: Álvaro Morata,
Jesé Rodríguez, Iker Muniain, Gerard Deulofeu, Rubén García*.
* Jesé and Rubén Pardo are injured, and were replaced by Rubén García and José Campaña, respectively.
This is the first ever call-up for Sergi Darder, Jairo Samperio and Rubén García. Meanwhile, two players habitually called up for the U-21 team, Alberto Moreno and Koke, got called up for the senior team instead.
Of note: 11 of the players who formed part of this past summer’s winning U-21 Euro team have already been called up by Vicente del Bosque. David de Gea, Martín Montoya and Marc Bartra have been called up, but have not yet debuted with the senior team. Íñigo Martínez, Alberto Moreno, Iker Muniain, Cristian Tello and Nacho Fernández each have one cap so far. Isco has two caps. Thiago has been called up seven times and has played four games, while Koke has been called up five times and has played five games.
The team will begin the concentración at noon on Nov. 11, and the next day, they’ll fly to Sarajevo via Munich, then travel by bus to Zenica. The game will be played on Nov. 14, and on Nov. 16, the team will fly to Tirana. They’ll stay there and travel by bus on Nov. 18 to the city of Elbasan, where they’ll face Albania. The return to Spain is scheduled for Nov. 19.