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Posted by Eduardo Alvarez on 07/01/2010

I guess I’ve already said that these off days between Spain’s matches are way too long. And if those days don’t even have any football at all, they feel like 48 hours long. The whole media centre becomes a large discussion forum in which journalists, like fans posting comments, argue endlessly about Torres vs. Llorente, one vs. two defensive midfielders, or Iker vs. any of the other two goalies. And the fact is that Del Bosque has already made up his mind on every single one of those issues, so we’re pretty much wasting time and energy discussing all this.

In order to kill this almost wasted time doing something useful to humankind, myself and other two journalists have now decided to create a prize for the most fun moment to make an impression of during this whole World Cup. We have three candidates so far:

1) Maradona’s press conference after Argentina qualified for the World Cup, during which he told the Argentinean media to, well, I can’t write it, but you do remember, right? Technically it is not a World Cup moment, but it never ever gets old to repeat Maradona’s words verbatim, so we agreed to allow its inclusion.

2) Cristiano Ronaldo takes a free kick. A great impersonation has to include every single detail, from the extra tight jersey to the three steps backwards plus the sideways one, the look of complete disbelief after the ball goes 50 metres over, and the glorious half litre of saliva spat on a cameraman (ok, I know this was something unrelated, but allow me to take some liberties to make this more fun, please)

3) Heinze dives pretending to have been fouled, rolls over as though he’d been shot in his back, and then jumps quickly on his feet and starts screaming at the ref after he judiciously ignores the play. Gabriel Ivan Heinze is a fantastic target for impersonations, as he argues with referees just after 15 seconds of every match as though he’d been getting bad calls for 120 minutes. Important note: your skin has to look orange.

Please, let us know your opinion.

Anyway, let’s come back to the national team. The Spanish gaffer is doing well with the media, keeping the team focused on Paraguay by avoiding every single question about a potential semi-finals match. You would expect that, after Spain’s shocking defeat against the US in the Confed Cup, the Spanish media would have learnt the lesson, but the prospect of a semi-final encounter with either Argentina or Germany is too mouth-watering for your average journo to refrain himself from speculating and asking thousands of questions about it.

Today’s press conference was the usual boring interchange of standard questions and even more standard answers. Llorente and Pedrito participated, and the latter showed his young age by saying absolutely nothing of interest. The canario seemed even scared to answer. Llorente, older and more seasoned, took advantage of his great performance against Portugal to state that ‘I am ready to start’. Not a chance, my friend.

Against Paraguay, Del Bosque will almost surely field the same line-up that started against the lusitanos: Casillas; Ramos, Piqué, Puyol, Capdevila; X Alonso, Busquets; Iniesta, Xavi, Villa; and Torres up front. Not that much news, you see…


Posted by BenX1332746 on 07/02/2010

I think it was the match Arg v Mexico, after one of the goals players are celebrating on the sidelines, Heinze turns away from the player group and bumps his head in to the camera, and gives the camera a DESERVED whack as we see the picture suddenly move away with force. It was way too close and asking for trouble. Another one would be Ramos yelling out after every shot at goal he misses (close or otherwise)... can you lip read his Adalusian cussing by any chance?

[ps - last line should be MUCH news, or 'many news items'.. one too many cheap drinks i guess :-)]

Ed Alvarez: yup, both ManU and RM fans already know well that Heinze will bring you several astonishing moments over a whole season, and he's managing to condense most of those during the World Cup month.
Ramos usually speaks about someone else's mother, which is a very usual way of cursing in spain.
And yes, the cheap drinks have indeed had an impact on the thinking area of my brain. Corrected that already, thanks.

Posted by Sharad Ananthanarayan on 07/02/2010

Hey Ed!
I can see how bored you well and truly are! hehe..Sitting in the office for my internship on a Friday morning waiting for an evening match that seems a decade away, im pretty much feeling the same!

So anyway, I was thinking you could add that moment during the French training session where one of the assistant coaches who fought with Evra (cant remember his name!) threw away his French ID card as he walked away in disgust!! Priceless!

P.S: Why is there even a discussion on Iker Casillas in so many places? I mean sure he's having a slight dip by his usual inhumanly high standards but come on! No one is a greater big-match player than "San Iker" and any tinkering with his position is probably going to lead to riots in castilla...and i cant help but think, it would knock the stuffing out of the dressing room too! Anyway, all academic. Never gonna happen.

Ed Alvarez: will look for the Evra thing. Yes, Casillas won't lose his starting spot, but believe me, many of us wouldn't mind. Agree, 100% academic.

Posted by Sharad Ananthanarayan on 07/02/2010

Really? I thought Iker Casillas was one of the most loved persons in Spain. No??

Ed Alvarez: yes, but that doesn't mean we all want him to play even when he's not in shape and is so obviously scared of the jabulani...

Posted by edward jenner on 07/02/2010

good points.
I would choose maradona's rant over the other two.
Also on the formations - xabi alonso seems to be stealing xavi's thunder though he has passed as well as xavi. Busquets has played really well in the past 3 matches.the starting line up aganst portugal is the best 11 and thank goodness del bosque agrees/
Also why is maicon rated so highly. I believe ramos beats him in every aspect. More pace, more skills while going forward, better crosses, supremely better header and as good as maicon in defending. one fluke goal and couple of decent performances in CL doesnt make a summer. it is all media frenzy. RM would be unwise in preferring maicon over ramos.

Ed Alvarez: Edward, from my point of view, Maicon has a much better tactical sense and comes back way more often than Ramos. But I agree, I would be looking to strengthen other areas of the pitch if I were managing RM.

Posted by kgw on 07/02/2010

As opposed to? I mean, Valdés, who's got an ego bigger than his goalkeeping skills, which are not better than Reina's, and obviously, not Iker's?

Ed Alvarez: kgw, it's a question of form. At his best, no one would disagree that Iker is a better goalie by far. The thing is, currently Iker is well below his best form, it's easy to see that...

Posted by wonderkid1987 on 07/02/2010

Ed, you forgot to add Heinze constant rolling of his sleeves. Apparently taking a short sleeve jersey instead of a long sleeve is just too much of a thought process...

Ed Alvarez: it's just been added to the impression. Well spotted.

Posted by Andres on 07/02/2010

What would your ideal line up be for spain against paraguay, or any team for that matter?

Ed Alvarez: to be answered in the preview of tomorrow's match...

Posted by kj on 07/02/2010

Ed, great moments. Don't forget to add CR's "come hither" look always directed at himself in the jumbotron as his posture suggests that nerves left a little something extra in the back of his shorts.

kgw, you can say what you will about Valdes' ego, but he has done nothing to show that during his stint with the national team. do you recall his comments about "san iker's" poor performances? based on their season's, reina and valdes could start on almost any national team (and presumable should be doing so on their own based on the opinion of most people)....

Ed Alvarez: another relevant piece of information. I'll be able to make a living with this impersonations when this Cup is over...

Posted by Megan on 07/02/2010

Well, let's hope that Iker discovers his best form right now! Spain will never have a better chance to win the World Cup with Brazil going out on the other side and having beaten both Argentina and Germany in recent times (should give them some confidence I would assume)and the quality/chemistry of the players. I just hope that get past Paraguay - don't want to count my chickens before they're hatched as they say...

On the RM front - one would think that maybe left back should be a key area rather than rb but mourinho wants maicon something fierce it seems with Sergio moving to the center.

Posted by newfan on 07/03/2010


What is the latest? Are there any new fitness worries? Many of us are hoping that some early goals, maybe by Torres, can open things up and lure Paraguay out of their shell. That would be sweet!

Do you have ideas for how Spain will minimize the chance of a "Swiss torture," if Spain does not score early? What should Spain do if Paraguay decides to "park the bus" of 9 or 10 men in front of the goal hoping to simply play for a counter or a shootout after 120 minutes of agony? This is a team that frustrated Argentina and other quality sides during the qualifiers.

Ed Alvarez: everything calm in the Spanish front. Regarding your second question, that will be something we'll have to leave with. Llorente, Navas and Mata should be the options to open up Paraguay's defence if things don't go well.

Posted by val on 07/03/2010

i think Del Bosque should give Fabrigas sometime to play because he has an attacking mentality,he can shoot outside the box,can split the defence wif his passes not bad,whilst Xavi jus run around with the ball even if hes close to the gate he jus want to pass

Posted by abdulrahman on 07/03/2010

Spain i think u have already won this trophea. by hope pls beat prgy 3 - 0

Ed Alvarez: 1-0 was enough!

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Eduardo Álvarez has written about Spanish football for Soccernet since Euro 2008 in Austria, where he witnessed a rare Spanish victory. He'll follow the Team Formerly Known as The Armada to South Africa, and will bring you all the news and gossips from the Spanish camp.

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