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los secretos – the rest of the book

Let’s finish Los secretos de la roja so we can move on to El mundo en nuestras manos!  The fun anecdotes and stories from the last four chapters of the book are your advent gift for today.

The boys and their pregame rituals

– Iker used to cut off inches off the sleeves and bottom of his shirt, and the utilleros would help him put on the captain’s armband, because it was difficult to do with gloves.  Puyol always has to enter the field on his right foot and can never step on the lines, including while the game is in play.  He always folds his socks inward, while Xavi does the opposite.

– Villa has worn the same shinguards since he was 18 because he believes they bring him luck.  Piqué always warms up without shinguards and he puts them on right before he goes onto the field.  He always enters the field on his right foot.  Sergio Ramos always puts on his right boot first and enters the field on his left foot.

– Cesc usually kisses a ring that his girlfriend gave him four times, and Senna always prays before the game, asking for protection for him and for his teammates, that none of them will get injured.  Marchena likes to look in the mirror before going out onto the field “to see if I’m sufficiently motivated or not.”  Silva and Mata prefer to enter the field on their left foot.

– for a while, Güiza had to eat Oreos before games, and even sent the utilleros to the supermarket if he forgot.  He also would wear a shirt with the image of the Cristo de los gitanos and the Virgen del Valle on the front to sleep on nights before games.

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los secretos – la porra de Puyol II

Today’s advent treat!

In part two of the chapter on the porra (part one can be found here), we get to see some of the results!  Were they what you expected?

In Austria [2008 Eurocopa], Iker and Pepe both played individually, and teamed up as a duo, although their predictions as a duo were a complete failure.  Sergio García won the first prize that summer, attributing his win to his head, and a bit of luck.  He had predicted that Spain would win all their games and that Villa would be the pichichi.  All in all, that summer was quite the success for Sergio García, because he won the porra (pocketing €1,050), he won money playing pocha and Spain won the Eurocopa.  Rubén de la Red was second (winning €630) and Pedro Cortés came in third (taking home €420).

In South Africa for the Confederations Cup, Vicente del Bosque & Paco Jiménez jointly shared the first prize of €1,150, while Antonio Limones was second, winning €690 and Xavi came in third for €460.

For the World Cup porra, the winners were Piqué and Mata (tied for first) and Capdevila (third).

And now, some anecdotes about the porra:

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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 – laughing it up with Luis

More from Los secretos!  The chapter covered in this post deals with Luis Aragonés and his unique sense of humor.  I was going to combine it with the chapter on DJ Ramos, but it’s quite long, so I’ll save DJ Ramos for its own post.  And we’re skipping the chapter dealing with Raúl and all the drama regarding whether he should have been recalled to the team or not because it’s kind of boring.

Chapter 8: Con Luis te partes

The  chapter talks about the relationship between Luis and his players, as well as his sense of humor and some of his memorable sayings.  Here are some of the favorite memories the players have with Luis.

We’ll start off with the one that will get your imagination up and running!

Xavi: one night, close to midnight, while Xavi was taking a shower, someone knocked on his door.  He thought it was Luis García, who had promised to bring him a DVD.  So Xavi quickly tried to dry off while telling Luis how annoying he was.  He opened the door naked, but no one was there.  As he started to shut the door, someone made a sudden movement and spit out, “Me cago en la hostia.  Come on, put on some underwear…”  Xavi: “Míster, I wasn’t expecting you.”  And then Aragonés sat down on Xavi’s bed and talked with him for a while.

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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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fun la roja news

Here is a round-up of the interesting news items about our team, from the last several days.

One. A chat with Vicente del Bosque.  He said the game against Germany was special to him (in addition to the victory) because it was the day of San Fermín, and both his father and brother are named Fermín, and so he thought of them.

Two. RTVE interviews Puyol, and goes to his hometown, La Pobla de Segur.  In the interview, he explains why he appeared before the queen of Spain in only a towel.  He said he was hiding in the back and didn’t want to come out, but he had to, so he covered himself with a towel.  [Does that mean he wasn’t wearing anything in the treatment room???]  In the end, “it was a honor that she was there with us.”  He also talks about his watch line CP5 (even the presenter has one).  They also give him a gift of photos of his goal.  In the second video, there’s great vintage footage of Carles (read: smaller hair) and they talk to his former coach.

Three. Cruzcampo, the beer company that’s an official sponsor of the national team, will give as a gift to all the players and the coaching team their weight in beer, to reward them for making it to the final.  That translates to 5,058 bottles of beer for the 1,686 kilos, with Fernando Llorente as the luckiest one, because he’s the heaviest.  Cruzcampo already did this two years ago at the Eurocopa, and Pepe Reina was the big winner then because he weighed 95 kg with all his clothes on.  Two years later, he’s lost 10 kg and is currently at 85 kg.  Mata (61 kg) and Navas (60 kg) will get the least amount of beer.

Four. People who will be at the final:  Rafa Nadal.  And Marcos Senna as well, at the invitation of the RFEF and his former teammates, will come to Johannesburg from Rio.  He’s been following the team and talking constantly to his Villarreal teammate Joan Capdevila.  Marcos’ foundation also has several projects in South Africa (he presented them last year during the Confederations Cup) including the construction of a school for disadvantaged kids.  I love Marcos for his personality, his skills and for being so charitable!  Santi Cazorla and Dani Güiza, two other beloved ex-members of the team, may also make an appearance.

Five. An article on the World Cup-winning U-20 Spanish team back in 1999.  The team featured Xavi, Iker and Carlos Marchena.  Iker remembers crocodiles in the swimming pool (note: the press actually started calling him the “caimán de Kaduna” – the alligator of Kaduna, with Kaduna being the Nigerian city where Iker started the semifinal game.  Of note for Madrid fans – Spain beat Mali in that game, and Mahamadou Diarrá was on that Malian team).

Xavi remembers Iker being “the same as he is now, just as responsible,” and Carlos “was already el pater, we always called him that for his common sense.”

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los secretos – the Eurocopa quarterfinal and semifinal

Some weekend reading before the big game as we go back to Los secretos!  The fourth chapter talks about Luis Aragonés and how he made the Spanish team believe in themselves, while the fifth covers the 2008 Euro quarterfinal game against Italy.  There’s not too many interesting things in these chapters, but I wanted to get through them before moving on to chapter six, which is very, very interesting!

Chapter four:  “Si no ganamos la Eurocopa, soy un mal entrenador”

(If we don’t win the Eurocopa, I’m a bad coach.)  In the words of Sergio Ramos, “before, we would go onto the field with the hope and desire to win, but we weren’t convinced that we could be champions.  Now we are.”  There’s a lot of talk about Luis’ methods, but the chapter is not too interesting if you’re looking for things about the players, which we are here, so I won’t go into too much detail.  There are just a couple of anecdotes worth mentioning:

– Xabi Alonso, on Aragonés’ chats:  “the truth is, he didn’t speak much about football.  It was less of a chat and more like a comedy club monologue.  We never stopped laughing.”

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day 34 – our poor Chori

June 26, 2010.

Well, a lot happened yesterday, although La Roja only had one short training session scheduled!

The players had the morning and early afternoon off.  Some, such as Andrés Iniesta and Pedro, opted to spend the time with their girlfriends while others, such as Geri Piqué or Javi, received visits from their parents (Javi also had his brother Álvaro, his sister, his niece and his aunt with him).  These last two went to a sushi and fish restaurant, and Geri also watched the South Korea-Uruguay game on TV with his parents.  Some of the others who didn’t have girlfriends or family members opted to go out and eat together.  Sergio Ramos, Navas (these two are inseparable), Busquets, Mata, Torres, Xabi, Arbeloa and Raúl Albiol (these last three are also inseparable) went out to have lunch together at Italian restaurant “Primi Platti” in the Mooi Rivier Mall.  There, they ran into Vicente del Bosque and his family (wife Mari Trini, children Vicente, Gema & Álvaro) who were also there having lunch with José Antonio Camacho and Javier Miñano.  Del Bosque’s kids wanted to get pictures taken with the players, so their dad was the one responsible for clicking the camera, and Álvaro, del Bosque’s youngest, also got a shirt signed for him by Iniesta.  Another picture of del Bosque’s sons watching their dad here.

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