Spain got down to business at their Austrian base on Friday determined to snap a recent poor streak which has brought premature heartbreak at major tournaments.
Coach Luis Aragones put the squad through their paces in Neustift, but had to rest injured strikers David Villa and Sergio Garcia for the majority of the session, although Andres Iniesta and Fernando Torres trained normally as they recovered from food poisoning and ankle trouble respectively.
Villa, suffering from a right quadriceps injury after a training ground incident on Tuesday, and Garcia (bruised calf) had to content themselves with basic exercises, but both expect to be in the frame for Tuesday’s opening match against Russia in Group D.
If Villa is deemed not to be 100 percent fit then Aragones is set to call upon Mallorca striker Dani Guiza to partner Torres.
Spain have shown some defensive lapses of concentration in recent games which the media have picked up on, but Liverpool star Alvaro Arbeloa said he believed the criticism was overblown.
“The defense has been criticized unfairly, but I think people have to realize that the other teams hardly managed to eke out chances against us. The brickbats are unfair and the Spanish defenders are going to show what fine players they are,” Arbeloa said late on Friday.
The last eight has often proved a barrier for Spain, whose only international success came at Euro 1964.
Last time out four years ago, defeat to Portugal meant they failed to advance past the group phase but at both the Euro and World Cup they have often endured a last eight hoodoo.
Spain took some brickbats after only beating the US 1-0 in their final warm-up match, but Guiza said: “I don’t care what people are saying. We have to stay calm and not listen to these commentaries.”
After facing Russia, the Spaniards take on Sweden and then titleholders Greece.
’SO CONSISTENT’: The victory gave the world No. 1 and world No. 2 a 21-1 win-loss record and their fourth title of the season after successes in Brisbane, Dubai and Doha Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Sunday cruised to their fourth women’s doubles title of the season at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome in their first tournament back since the suspension of the WTA Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The top seeds took just 63 minutes to complete a comprehensive 6-2, 6-2 victory over unseeded German-Romanian duo Anna-Lena Friedsam and Raluca Olaru at the Foro Italico. It was the Taiwanese-Czech pairing’s first outing since they won the Qatar Open in February. “After five months, you don’t know what to expect,” Strycova told the WTA Web site.
‘GREAT EVENING‘: In the women’s singles in Rome, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova advanced, while Rafael Nadal swept into the quarters in the men’s singles Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic on Friday had to dig deep to advance to the semi-finals of the women’s doubles at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The top seeds, who did not drop a game in their opening match on the clay courts at the Foro Italico, battled to a 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over sixth seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Katerina Siniakova in 1 hour, 39 minutes. The reigning Wimbledon champions saved nine of 11 break points and converted three of eight, winning 56 percent of points on their second serve and sending down two aces
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
ANOTHER SCANDAL: Searches focused on several riders, including Dayer Quintana, a source said, while the two being held were reportedly a doctor and physiotherapist French police on Monday detained two people as part of an investigation into suspected doping in the Arkea-Samsic team at this year’s Tour de France, prosecutors announced. The probe is the first significant one in several years for the repeatedly scandal-hit tour, which on Sunday wrapped up in Paris with a victory for 21-year-old Tadej Pogacar, who became the youngest winner in more than a century. Prosecutor Dominique Laurens in Marseille said in a statement that an investigation was being carried out into a “small part” of France-based Arkea-Samsic, without specifying who had been placed in custody. Laurens added that the two