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wedding season…

Jesús Navas married his longtime girlfriend Alejandra Moral in the Santa María la Blanca church in Los Palacios y Villafranca yesterday!  Both Jesús and Alejandra looked beautiful; ¡¡enhorabuena!!

Sergio Ramos, who was also looking fantastic though I expected a bit more color from him, attended the wedding, and tweeted a few photos from it: him and his brother-in-law Carlos, one of the happy couple, and one of him with the novios.  Judging by the corsage that Sergio is wearing, maybe he was one of testigos for Jesús.  He’s back in his “tierra,” and tweeted “how lovely is love!  Long live the newlyweds!  Congratulations to my great friend Jesús Navas!!”

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Merry Christmas from the boys of Villarreal!

Here’s another advent gift for today (it’s club related, but you can see how I can’t resist), courtesy of the boys of Villarreal, including our beloved Santi Cazorla, Joan Capdevila and Diego López (it also stars Giuseppe Rossi and Gonzalo).  It’s an adorable Villarreal Merry Christmas video!  It’s extremely awww-inducing, and be sure to check out Joan dancing and cross-eyed at the very end!

By the way, Joan has extended his contract with Villarreal for two more years.  Congratulations!

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.

they can convince me to do anything

This is one of the many, many talents of the players of La Roja – being able to pack so much fun and laughs into six seconds.  This video was made to support the Spain/Portugal bid to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup.  I think it was shot back in March of this year (before the friendly against France on March 3), because that was the last time some of the players here (Marcos Senna, Álvaro Negredo, Dani Güiza, Diego López) made an appearance with La Roja.

Favorite moments: Dani jumping up and down to be seen, because he was behind the tall Pepe and the even taller Diego; Sergio supporting himself on Villa and Joan’s shoulders; Cesc’ gestures (the only one to make any); Torres’ blond hair (because I’m so used to seeing him with his natural hair color now) and how he sits there for one more beat after everyone else has already gotten up; how Albiol (who else?) is the last one to finish speaking; Marcos Senna’s half-hearted thumbs up; and the “vamos” and cheers once filming is completed.  And why are they sitting on a fountain?

See, I told you the players have a talent for making any moment, even the most mundane, fun!

I had to watch it several times before I could figure out what they were saying, because they weren’t very coordinated with their speech.  They say, “apoyamos la candidatura ibérica” (we support the Iberian bid).

And Álvaro Arbeloa tweeted about it, making fun of their inability to all speak at in unison…

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los secretos – the transition to Vicente del Bosque II

The second part of the chapter on the transition to Vicente del Bosque, from Los Secretos.  Part one can be found here.  In this excerpt, we get a glimpse of the special relationship between VDB and his players.

Pepe Reina on VDB: “Vicente is a coach that wins you over for the freedom that he gives you.  He’s an intelligent man, who knows a lot about football, and he’s very tactful.  He’s very low-key and doesn’t want to be the protagonist, which makes him special.  He’s very different, but at the same time similar to Luis Aragonés, because both of them like good football.”

Mata on VDB: “he is simple, humble and tranquil.  He treats us with a lot of affection.”

Hierro on VDB: “I think he has ten senses instead of five.  That’s the way he is and he’s always seven steps ahead of everyone else.”

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day 47 – adiós Potch!

Before we start, a really cute video of Puyol’s goal recreated with Lego blocks.  Lego Iker wears a helmet and Lego Puyol even has longer hair than the rest!

July 9, 2010.

Friday was our last full day in Potchefstroom!  I can’t believe the World Cup is ending!

There was a gym session in the morning, and then Sergio Busquets and Carlos Marchena were trotted out in front of the press.  Biscuits was asked how the robbery he suffered has affected him, and he said no one likes it when that happens, but there’s nothing you can do, especially when it happens before the game and that you can’t get distracted.  He added that he would exchange his wallet for the World Cup.  Video of those declarations here.  Meanwhile, Carlos talked about his and Spain’s winning streak – I believe it’s now at 55 – and was asked if he’s spoken with the coach about this.  His reply was that he never thought anything needed to be said to the coach.

In the closed training session at 18:30h, the team’s last in Potchefstroom, they practiced tactics and plays.  Vicente del Bosque gave no indication as to his starting lineup for Sunday’s game, although Fernando Torres seems destined to start the game on the bench, with what was his position to be taken by either Pedro or David Silva.

After the session, various players, including Sergio, Xabi and Raúl Albiol returned to the gym for more work.

Looking ahead and other notes

– Looking ahead to today: the team will say goodbye to everyone in Potch and thank them for their affection and support in the morning, then travel to Johannesburg via bus where they will stay at the Hotel Da Vinci.  After lunch and a siesta, they’ll train in Soccer City in the late afternoon (evening to most people, but not Spaniards), and then Vicente del Bosque and the two captains of the team, Xavi and Iker, will speak to the press.  Finally, Iker decides to talk!

– Looking ahead to Sunday: the RFEF has invited to the final those four footballers who dropped off Vicente del Bosque’s list at the last moment: Santi Cazorla, Diego López, Marcos Senna (see below for an interview) and Dani Güiza.  I can’t wait to see them!  However, I’m hearing that Dani’s club Fenerbahçe will not let him go (they’re having their preseason now, but Dani is training separately due to bursitis.  Rubén de la Red was also invited, but he was already in South Africa – you can see him in the video here.

Prince Felipe and Princess Leti will also be there, but JCI will not.  As I said yesterday, Rafa Nadal will be there as well, and now we have confirmation that Pau Gasol will also travel to South Africa.

And if Spain wins the World Cup, the trophy could be presented to them by none other than Nelson Mandela – he’s one of my heroes and I’ve missed seeing him during the course of the tournament, thank goodness Cristiano met him or else we wouldn’t have seen any of him!

– And on Monday, the plane carrying the Spanish team will arrive back in Madrid at 11:40h.  They’ll visit the royal family and La Moncloa (the office of the president of the country), and attend the the parade along the Río Manzanares starting around 19h.  They’ll finish up the night with dinner at Mesón Txistu.

– One of our new favorites (well, I’ve always liked her), Queen Sofía continued with her tour of South Africa by scoring a goal, watch it here.

Xavi, Villa and Iniesta are on the list of 10 players fighting for World Cup MVP trophy.

– And back in Spain, this is how Cibeles and Neptuno are currently dressed!  (For non-Real Madrid/Atleti fans: the Plaza of Cibeles (left) is where Real Madrid celebrates all their championships, while the Plaza de Neptuno (right), down the street, is where Atleti fans celebrate their team’s successes).

The press round-up after the jump!

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los secretos – the cyber café of room 422

We’re already on Chapter 6 – “The cyber café of room 422”!  I’m fully expecting another book to be released about our boys and their 2010 adventures in South Africa, so let’s see how fast we can finish this one!

This chapter is another favorite, because we really get to see how close the guys are.

Room 422

– Room 422 refers to the room of Joan Capdevila.  It was their first day at the hotel in Neustift, Austria: “when I entered the room for the first time, I thought they had given me the wrong one.  I thought it was Iker’s room, and since my last name begins with the same letter as his, they got confused.”  (The captains usually get the biggest rooms during the camps.)  So he went back down to reception, and it was confirmed that 422 was indeed his room.

– After that, he went to find Santi Cazorla to see if all the rooms were like his.  He saw that Santi’s room was much smaller.  And Santi stared open-mouthed at Joan’s room and declared, “we’re going to play pochita here at night!”

– The room was the size of an apartment:  it had an enormous salon, three bedrooms and two bathrooms.  There were a total of six beds.

– Joan’s room became known as “el Cíber” and became the place to be for the components of the team.  A visit was practically mandatory after every game, where the guys would analyze and re-analyze the games.  They also talked about life, cars, girls…

– It started with the guys playing pocha, and then others joined in to take advantage of the wi-fi connection: Silva, Navarro, Sergio, Juanito.  They would use the connection to surf the Internet, chat, talk with friends and families.  Silva said he was one of the regulars.

– Sergio: “we could be there just hanging out until two or three in the morning.  Without realizing it, at least 10 of the players would get together.  I brought my laptop with music to add to the ambiance.”

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preview II: Spain vs. Switzerland

First preview is here.  Just wanted to share this cute little cartoon from Marca with all of you, some other data and a Marca initiative.

The cartoon: I wish I had a Swiss Army knife where Iker would pop out.

The data: the Adidas players (Arbeloa, Marchena, Xabi, Xavi, Silva, Javi, Villa, Llorente) will all have new boots for today’s game.  They (the boots, not the players unfortunately) will go on sale shortly for around €200.  They players will have the choice between the Predator, Adipure and F50 models, depending on their tastes and the state of the field.

Each player will also have four shirts for each of the games, in two models: the usual one, and the tighter one.

Iker has brought 10 pairs of gloves with him to South Africa.

Each game uses 30 balls personalized with the day, the place of the game, and the two teams.  The ball for the final will be gold and called Jo’bulani, although it is in essence the Jabulani.

The initiative: Marca asked all of the players to send a message to the fans prior to the debut by asking them what headline they would like to see on the cover of the newspaper.  Here they are.  I like Iniesta’s because it sums up how the team is feeling at the moment.

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