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one more calendar

We have yet another charity calendar featuring players from La Roja!  Juan Mata, Aritz Aduriz and Pablo Hernández were three of the La Roja Valencia players who participated in the annual calendar collaboration (this year is the fifth year) between Valencia and the Asindown Foundation, the Down’s Syndrome Foundation of Valencia.

The calendar was presented yesterday at Paterna, with Juan Mata on the cover.  It will be on sale starting tomorrow for €5 in Valencia’s official stores and in branches of the foundation.  On Sunday, it will also be available with the newspaper Superdeporte.  Proceeds will of course benefit the foundation.

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such nostalgia!

I don’t know if it’s good (that I’m such a big fan of La Roja) or bad (that I’m old enough to have done this) that I recognized the majority of the Spanish internationals (well, the ones that can walk without assistance and still have most of their hair) in these pictures from the RFEF of the players mingling.  And I might have squealed a little bit each time I saw someone that added to the nostalgia that I’m feeling!

Here is my selection from the gallery; as you can see, for you all I’ve chosen the players you should recognize, even if you’re just a casual La Roja fan.

My favorite is the first one – Pepe and his dad Miguel!!!  How cute are they???  My second favorite is the one of players that play in the province of Valencia, especially for Bruno’s shiny suit and Marcos Senna!  Plus, Aritz is looking quite hot back there!

I do a “Xabi Alonso pose section™” over on the game recap (aka ICYMI) posts over on the Madrid blog, and this picture of Xabi is PERFECT for it.  Look how great he looks, and how at ease he is.  That’s hard.  Plus, I’m liking the sweater vest.  It makes me think of Xabi as a professor, and there are one or two things that I have in mind that I’d like him to teach me.

Aritz Aduriz at Marca

Aritz Aduriz made his debut with the national team last week, so he’s very much in demand this week!  He gave this interview to Marca, which appeared in today’s edition.  I like him.

Q:  How has your first week with the national team been?

A:  Very good.  It’s a wonderful experience being able to share training sessions, a locker room and games with these great players.  I’m very happy to be here and I have a lot of desire to help out.

Q:  Did it make you uncomfortable that your call-up started a political debate due to that letter asking for the national team of Euskadi to be called Euskal Herria?

A:  It was expected.  There are people that take things out of context.  I don’t want to rehash this topic nor am I thinking about doing so.  What I want to do is play and help.  The only thing I can say is that I’m proud, satisfied and happy to be on the national team.  The answer is that I’m here.

Q:  Is it true that the team is as wholesome as it appears from the outside?

A:  Absolutely.  From the outside, you see a team with a very high level of play, that is the champion of the world, but on the inside, it’s incredible.  The group is great, and they make you feel comfortable from the moment that you come in that door.  I thought it would be like this, but what I found still surprised me.

Q:  It’s like they’re not champions of the world.

A:  Totally.  They’re normal people, and has been a very united group for some time, and it’s easy to integrate oneself.

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all set for the last qualifier of the year

The boys had a light training session on Sunday morning, with Xabi Alonso participating normally, but with Sergio Ramos in the gym as a precaution.  He later told EFE that his ankle almost back to normal, not swollen anymore.  Vicente del Bosque will in principle have both of them available for today’s training session and Tuesday’s game against Scotland, after Dr. Celada said they should be ready.  During the session, the goalkeepers got to try out their skills as regular players – I wonder what field positions they are best at?

Santi Cazorla and Aritz Aduriz spoke to the press in the afternoon.  Santi also told EFE that Xavi “has no substitute, and is unique and the best in the world at his position,” and with regards to playing far from the wing on Friday, he said, “it’s not my position, but I was happy.  The secret is that these guys are so great that it’s impossible to do badly when you play with them.”

Later on that afternoon, the players boarded the 2.5 hour flight to Glasgow.  Sergio Ramos played a golf game on his iPad during the flight, while Álvaro Arbeloa presumably read the El País Semanal magazine with Xabi Alonso on the cover.  Meanwhile, Pepe Reina, Fernando Llorente, Borja Valero and Aritz Adruiz played cards together in the last row.  The team brought with them winter clothes, since the temperature forecast for today is a minimum of 2°C, and for the day of the game, 1°C.  The team is staying at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

Looking ahead to today, Spain will train at Hampden Park at 19h, which should bring back great memories for VDB and Iker, who won Madrid’s ninth Champions League trophy here.  Iker of course, had a legendary game, and this ended up being VDB’s swan song.

And someone else who played in that final traveled with Spain to Scotland – Fernando Morientes!!!  He’ll be part the Telecinco team that will cover the game.  Here he is with former club teammates Pepe Reina and David Villa.  If only Iker were in the picture….

in case you missed it – Spain vs. Lithuania

In case you missed it – Spain vs. Lithuania [2010-10-08].

The people of Salamanca get a sobresaliente (A+) for their support of La Roja, while the goalposts get a suspenso (F) for constantly getting in our way!

One. Other signs of support from the crowd at the Helmántico:  chanting “Iker, Iker” before the game, chanting “Iniesta” every single time he took a corner or a free kick, shouting “fuera” (out!) at the Lithuanian fans when they got rowdy, cheering all the substitutions, especially the one of Sergio Ramos for Arbeloa, for the former’s great game, which included two goal assists, and for the latter’s ties to Salamanca (Álvaro was born there).  And then there was the chanting of “Vicente, Vicente” at the end of the game.

VDB thanked Salamanca after the game for their “affection towards the team and towards me.”  Santi Cazorla described the crowd as “incredible.”  And Iker praised the commitment of the fans there, and added, “it’s a pleasure to go anywhere in Spain, but here they were phenomenal.”

This was Spain’s first game back home since winning the World Cup.

Two. Great goals, no?  And all three of them came off of headers!  Fernando Llorente scored two, assisted by Sergio Ramos and Santi Cazorla, and David Silva put the icing on top of the cake with his goal, which also came off a Sergio Ramos assist.  Fernando celebrated his first goal with Sergio three times (two hugs and one high five) and dedicated it to fisio Miguel Gutiérrez, who is from Bilbao.  It’s a shame that Aritz Aduriz wasn’t able to join the header party, considering his penchant for scoring headers so far this season with Valencia!

(Warning: post very image-heavy)

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news from Wednesday plus a lot of fun La Roja stuff!

The team held two training sessions yesterday, with Vicente del Bosque still not revealing who the starting 11 against Lithuania will be, although most of us will probably be able to predict it correctly.

There’s not anything too exciting to report on about the training sessions, but it did leave us with these photos.  Again, it seems a bit of a stretch to call those moments “training,” no?

Carlos Marchena and Fernando Llorente spoke to the press, where Marchena said that Spain didn’t suffer from “Xavidependencia” (dependence on Xavi), despite his importance to the team, because there are other players on this team that can take over for him when needed.

The team will leave for Salamanca this morning via bus, and train this afternoon at El Helmántico, where the game will be played on Friday.

Meanwhile, over on the U-21 side, La Rojita completed their last training session at Las Rozas.  They’ll leave this morning for Burgos, where they’ll face Croatia in the first leg of the Euro 2011 qualifying playoff on Saturday at El Plantío.  Everyone hopes that David de Gea (cold) and Diego Capel (muscle problems) will recover in time to play.

Castilla y León will be the province to be in this weekend!

Now, onto the fun news!

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the first training session

As reported earlier, the players arrived at Las Rozas yesterday to begin preparing for the upcoming Euro 2012 qualifiers.  Upon arrival, the players most in demand were of course the new (and new old) faces: Aritz Aduriz (his second last name is Zubeldia, which means that his names all begin/end with A and Z), Pablo and Borja Valero.

I love Aritz’ freckles!!!  Fernando Torres has a worthy rival…

The players had a training session in the late afternoon, including a partidillo, where Pablo scored two goals.  David Villa and Fernando Llorente also found the net, although Fernando also had a goal annulled for being offside.  The team made up of Iker/Pepe, Arbeloa, Piqué, Nacho, Bruno, Pablo Borja, Silva and Llorente was the winner.  Watching the session was the U-17 team, and Captain España (Iker) spent some time after the session signing autographs.

I loved how some of the La Roja veterans took care of their former club teammates!

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did you miss them?

They’re back!

No strange outfits in these pictures, although Santi’s jeans are right on the border with bad taste!

La Roja met up at Las Rozas starting today at noon (they had until 13h) to begin the concentración for the Lithuania and Scotland Euro 2012 qualifiers.  The first ones to arrive were those from Valencia and Villarreal.  Two ex-Valencia players, the Davids, were also early, with Silva having spent the previous night in the capital, and Villa also there filming a commercial for a brand of detergent.  The last players to arrive (after 13h) were those from Barcelona (Puyol, Piqué, Iniesta, Busquets), due to a delayed flight, and Sergio Ramos, who has no excuse since he lives in Madrid.

The newly called up players were excited, with Borja saying that there’s nothing better than being with the national team, Aritz declaring that he was surprised with the call-up and ready to work hard, and Pablo describing his return as a source of pride.

The first training session will be held at 19h this afternoon, and it will be open to the public.  There will be double sessions starting tomorrow.

Meanwhile, VDB checked out the training session of the U-21 team, although he wasn’t able to see his new favorite, David de Gea, who was suffering from a cold.

Bonus video: David Villa and Dwight Howard.  I’m pretty sure a body double was used for David Villa when he was showing off his basketball skills.  And I like that the La Roja jersey fits Dwight Fernando Llorente style.  The pin-striped Magic jersey and shorts also remind me of Spain’s kit circa 2006.  Dwight must also be the only person in the world to call David Villa “Dave.”

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