It was allllll blue eyes at today’s presser, thank you kindly to whoever set that up! Pique spoke a little about the so-called rift between him & Sergio, hopefully now that the words are coming out of his mouth, this is the last we hear of it. Can we get over the drama & just talk about the fabulous month long footy fest we’re gonna have?
Are we missing Puyol and how do you carry the partnership with Sergio Ramos in defense?
The truth is clear that we miss a teammate and Puyol is like a brother to me, we had four years sharing a dressing room with him in Barcelona and in the selection. I think we have the quality players needed to be in his place and not notice his absence. The truth is that I get on very well with Sergio Ramos. I have a good understanding with Sergio – as I do with Raul Albiol,” also of Real, “and (Bilbao’s) Javi Martinez, who can also both play in this position. It was also said this season that I didn’t get on with (outgoing Barca boss Pep) Guardiola at Barcelona and that was never so. I said it many times and say so again. Things get exaggerated. There was a lot of tension between the two teams. “We know where we’re headed at this European Championships and I feel proud to form part of the team and I am very happy to be playing beside Sergio.”
In the World Cup one of the successes was the defense. Do you think the defense will be pivotal in the European Championship?
“I think all the pieces of the team are important, the defense and attack as well as the middle. Keeping a clean sheet is vital, especially in qualifying. It was shown in the World Cup, we kept a clean sheet in the knockout matches, which won one to zero, and that was final. Hopefully we just keep up being successful.”
Is it good to get to the tournament as favorites?
People do not like being favorites, but I like it. If they see us as favorites is because they see us as the team to win the championship. While there may be an added pressure, I like it and I get the feeling that we have a very strong team. I prefer to go with this label and then pressure, I think we all have this in our clubs every day, so that we can continue with it.
How do you feel playing with Jordi Alba?
Honestly, he’s a great player. I was surprised because he is flying. He is very small but very fast and skillful. He can defend and attack, and I think he is a player to be very clearly here. I see him with a level to be huge.
What do you think about Italy? Do you think you are more dangerous after the scandals?
I think so, it is most dangerous when Italy is more dangerous and where they likes to move. They will be there until the end, it will be a very tough opponent and will be fighting for the championship.
What do you think of the three strikers in the team?
They are very well, the truth is that we are very fortunate because with different players we can bring different things depending on the timing and circumstances of the games. It’s a variety that few teams have, they have many levels, they are scoring goals and are a large part in this tournament.
Who is for you the most dangerous player in the Italian team? ¿Pirlo or Balotelli?
There are players like Balotelli to make you win a game and Pirlo makes you win a championship. Pirlo knows when to speed, moves through many facets of the game. However, Balotelli is a player now, catches the ball and gets you a goal when no one expects it. We must remain vigilant because they are high quality players.
Do you think that the football you have practiced these years force other teams to come out ready to play the ball more?
Each team has to adapt to the players he has. The simplest example is given in the Spanish league. Barca try to play a with a touch of the ball because it has quality players to keep the ball, the Madrid players seek the opposite, the space and feel more comfortable that way for them. From there, each seeking his philosophy.
What are the differences between Puyol and Ramos how do you adapt to them?
With players like Carles and Sergio, they are physical, they go well at the front and are very safe at the back. I know Puyol with only a look but there is no problem. It is easy to adapt to Sergio Ramos and playing alongside him.
Are the sporting issues in Italy beneficial to you?
I don’t think so because it seems that Italy is off and it is not. As I said, I think it’s better when you go to Italy. When one thinks about them or believe in their possibilities are grown, so have to be with the five senses to defeat one of the best teams in Europe and worldwide.
How much will Spain notice the absence of Puyol & Villa?
Both players are sure to be noticed, they have proven to be two great players for the selection. It will be difficult to find replacements but we have to pull forward and we have a chance to win the tournament with players who are here.
To what extent does the experience of FC Barcelona in the Champions League serve with the selection here?
From my experience, I prefer to dominate every game. In the end, this is football and the option of defeat is always there. If you have sixty or seventy percent of possession, loss options are reduced. Anyway, surely, we will present a selection that will battle in that regard.
What are the defining characteristics of Torres, Llorente and Negredo?
Should be monitored closely by Fernando Torres in the long balls. It is better to receive short because otherwise you part with advantage, with Llorente, unlike, you know you will win over few. It is best to seek the second ball and, of course, be alert at set pieces. Finally, Negredo, has a very good left-handed and dangerous in the area. With them we can do important things.
Four years ago, Spain beat Italy in Euro and you were not part of the team. Where were you at that championship?
I think I was in Mallorca on vacation, I remember the penalty of Cesc and jumped with lots of joy. It was a step forward after a long time and was a great joy.
What did the victory against Italy four years ago mean?
I think Spain changed its mind. Before, when it came to the quarterfinals we were playing not to lose and now we play to win.
Is there there an excess of euphoria in Spain?
After winning a European Championship and World, forget it. We know where we are so we are restrained. It’s a difficult competition, with very good choices and we must go step by step. The key would be to start by beating Italy and try, from there, to be ourselves and establish our game.
Are you aware of what Spain expects of you?
We know how the country is, how complicated everything is. I would ask you to trust us because we do not fail.
Are you paying the high burden of accumulated games from the beginning of season?
It is true that there has been a tough year but I do not think it’s an influence right now. Both Javi Martinez and I are ready to play and take every opportunity to do so.
The presumed defensive approach of rivals of Spain, do you think it can benefit your game?
It would be great that all teams allowed us to play and we wait behind with our style of play, it would be a matter of time when we finished winning games. Now I am focusing here on the selection to give the maximum and the other issues I keep them apart until the end of the tournament.
Are you worried about the debate about the front?
No, it can happen, we are exposed to the press talk about what you want. But as far as I’m concerned, I have to work very hard every day and prove that I can have a place in the starting lineup.
How do you find the Gniewino training facility?
I have found is a spectacular place to be quiet and comfortable train. We have all kinds of games and chances to be comfortable at all times and, of course, we are excited by what we found.
What do you think you bring unlike Negredo and Torres?
I can help the national team when the teams close and have to play for bands and hang many centers to the area, I think that’s my forte. Meanwhile, Negredo is a great scorer, a good finisher. And Fernando Torres is a player who plays very well to the space, very fast and is very good with his head.
What do you think of being the preferred starter in surveys?
It’s always nice that people think you’re qualified to hold, it is clear that any of the three can do it because we are ready. But that’s a question for the coach, which certainly will not be easy.
Do you fear that you will not be able to escape from Italy in Sunday’s game and not be able to score goals?
No I am not afraid to do so, I wish to do so throughout the game. I’m sure we’ll have many occasions during the ninety minutes and that we will use some of them.
What did it mean for the national team to have achieved victory against Italy four years ago?
It was decisive. The fact that we passed to the semifinals led us to believe much in the selection and everyone was a success and since then, we believed more in us and has been instrumental in the success of later years.
Are you aware that you can give joy to many people who are going through very bad times in Spain?
We realize that there are many expectations placed on us and it would be nice to give a joy to Spain and all those people who are going through bad times. We are aware of this and work with the intention to provide a win, because it would be the greatest joy we could give them.