Informe Robinson: Campeones del Mundo III

Gerard Piqué: The worst thing, which nobody knows about, is that the next day in training, Andrés hit the ball into the box and when I tried to clear it, it hit me full on in the face and all of my cuts reopened again.  I said all of the bad words I knew and I remember Vicente saying to me, ‘What bad luck!’

Pepe Reina:  And that day he was nervous.  We were joking around with him… [imitating Piqué]… You couldn’t understand him… He couldn’t talk… We kept teasing him, but he was having a really bad time with it.

Xavi Hernández:  I saw that Busi was having a really hard time.  Even though you try not to listen to the critics, people were saying that we didn’t need Busquets.

Sergio Busquets: It’s clear that the most important thing is to be aware of everything, no?  Of your job, of the fact that you’re the youngest, and perhaps the one that hasn’t made a name for himself yet.

Andrés Iniesta:  The most important thing is for those around you to have faith in you… So in that sense…

Vicente del Bosque: If I were a football player at this time, I would like to be like Busquets.

Iker Casillas:  I think that those three or four days were… if you ask any of my teammates about that period, they would tell you that it was the most nerve-racking, difficult times, and most worrisome because if we won, we’d still be alive, but if we lost, we’d be heading back to Spain.

PR: (exhales) And if we get eliminated in the first round? It would be embarrassing. Such failures! And we were just one draw away from being sent home.

XH:  You had that feeling that you could be eliminated.  You had that feeling. And in a way, that fear, was visible.

VDB:  The day of the match against Chile, the silence on the bus… it was terrible.  You could cut it with a knife.

Álvaro Arbeloa: I remember Iker vividly.  I remember being on the bus and him telling me: ‘I’m scared shitless’ ‘Estoy cagao.’ And I said to him, ‘But Iker, you’ve played thousands of really important matches,” and he just said, ‘Estoy cagao.’ And it really hit me, you know?

Juan Mata:  I remember Vicente’s talk before the game, where he tried to take some of the responsibility off of our shoulders by telling us that we were just footballers.

Narrator:  That night, Iniesta returned to the starting line-up.

XH:  Chile was a tough opponent… complicated… aggressive… Uf! They were a difficult, very difficult rival.

Fernando Torres:  I received a pass from Xabi Alonso, and I beat the defender, but then I see goalkeeper come out of the box, when he shouldn’t have… He didn’t think I could get there in time, and he slid to the ground to try to clear the ball, but could only knock it out in front of him…

David Villa:  And I had a feeling that the ball is coming to me, you know? And it did, in a pretty good position, to my left foot, and the goal was empty…

[Villa scores and puts Spain on the scoreboard: 1-0]

IC: With his left foot, from the wing, with a spin on it, and to have it go in perfectly…

FT: For me, it was the best goal in the World Cup and the most difficult one because of the distance, no? A golazo from David and one that I believe unsettled the Chileans.

VDB: And then there was Andrés’s goal, which came out beautifully.  I think that it gave us confidence.

[Iniesta scores, Spain is now up by two]

AI:  On the bus ride from the hotel to the stadium, I always sit next to Victor, Victor Valdés and I told him that I would score a goal and that I would dedicate it to him. [Laughs] Sometimes I say it, and it doesn’t happen!

[Villar scores and puts Chile on the scoreboard: 2-1]

IC: At that point, Bielsa (Chile’s coach) started telling his team to sit back and to let us attack… losing 2-1 would suit them well, because they would qualify as second in the group onto the next round.

[VDB: Why aren’t they trying harder? Toni Grande: Because they’ve already qualified.]

IC:  I remember telling Busquets and Piqué to stay calm. If Chile was fine with being second, then let’s not be stupid… because by winning 2-1, we would qualify as first in the group.

Raúl Martínez:  There is a change.  Not just a physical change, but also an emotional one… I think that the turning point was when he was able to play 90 minutes – which was the match against Chile.

AI: And that’s when the World Cup truly begins…

PR: No one said that winning a World Cup was going to be easy.  Up to that point, we had been through some difficult times.  But we still had a long, hard, yet, also marvelous road ahead.  Stay tuned: the best is yet to come…

PR:  From here on out, we couldn’t afford to make any mistakes.  The best of the World Cup was ahead of us.  And it all started here: in Cape Town…

N:  The round of 16 arrives.  For the first time in the tournament, Del Bosque repeats his starting line-up.  The rival:  Portugal.

VDB: I think that we played quite well that day.  From the beginning, we played with the authority of a team who wanted to win…

XH:  Our visualization of the game was that we were better than Portugal, but we were struggling to break through to the area…

IC:  We had to take on Portugal and Cristiano.  Every time one of my teammates fouled someone in the area, even if it was far, I… I was thinking of him, thinking of everything.  The ball did some strange things and I tried to get it out as best I could.  I don’t believe that a tournament as important as this one should have been played with a ball like that.  I feel bad saying it, because it’s a brand that sponsors me, but it shouldn’t have been that way.

Michael Robinson:  The entrance of Llorente changes everything.

VDB:  Getting past their defenders was a struggle for us, so Fernando’s introduction as key, definitely.

Fernando Llorente: He told me to do what I do in my club, no? That I should hold onto the ball, to be involved in the plays, and to try to do some damage. I was ready to go out there and help the team.

David Villa: The two central defenders were all over him, but they just couldn’t handle him.  He was protecting the ball with his back to them… and I have never seen such a display of strength from a footballer in my entire life, because both Portuguese central defenders, Carvalho and and in particular, Bruno Alves, are strong in one-on-one defending.  But he ate them alive.

XH:  By that point, we were dominating the other ¾ of the field, and you just thing: something’s going to happen.  And Andrés had the ball, and I noticed that he saw Villa, who had slipped past his marker to receive the pass…  but the ball rebounds on a defender, and I had seen Andrés’s original pass, so I just gave it a quick flick with the back of my heel…

DV: I had planned to hit it with my right foot, but Xavi’s touch made it go longer, so I made the decision to hit it with my left foot.  I was lucky that the ball came back to me, and with the goalkeeper on the ground, I was able to chip it into the net… I think that was one of the happiest moments in the World Cup.

XH: [The Argentine referee Baldassi] told me he wanted my shirt after the match, and I jokingly told him, ‘I’ll give you the shirt, but only if you blow the whistle for full-time now.  Blow the whistle, because it’s the 90th minute already!’ And later, I told him that the semi-final would be Spain-Argentina. But it wasn’t meant to be.

On Cristiano Ronaldo:

AA:  Well, that was before the famous spitting incident, no? He was out of sorts, I think.  He doesn’t like to lose, not even at a game of marbles, and it was one of those situations where you don’t even want to talk to your teammate, and well, it’s no big deal, no?

Diego Maradona: Baldassi never let Portugal get to Spain’s goal, because every 50/50 call went Spain’s way.

MR: And then, you said that Maradona can be ‘such a pain!’

[Cut to video from VDB’s press conference: VDB: He can be a nice guy, but he can be such a pain!]

VDB: Well, I was just expressing, in my serious manner/tone, what I think: that he’s a pain!



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