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Alejandro Cruz: Gaga one or Special one?

*Jones*

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Dec 28, 2009
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Monday 13th July 2011:
“Listen lad’s, we’re dominating this game, they shouldn’t have scored 2,
We just need to sharpen up in defence and we’ll be fine, especially if our front men keep linking up like they are, you look like the real deal out there, I think even Xavi and Iniesta would be proud to be playing football like that!”


Here I was, me; Alejandro Cruz. Giving a team talk to the best young talent that Spain had produced;
The likes of Bojan, Canales and Azpilicueta all sat there, listening. Waiting for me to motivate them for the second half.


“we’re going to go narrower than we already are, that should close the gaps down where they seem to be breaking. Carlos, you and Juanpe need to watch Sturridge and Carroll closely, especially Sturridge, he’s quick and he’s a good finisher. Look out for the long ball up to Carroll to flick on to Sturridge. That’s how the English play, Kick and rush...”


I’d been in this job for just over two years, taking over after the first game of qualifying because the previous coach had a serious heart condition. Since then we’d won every single game, qualifying for the Championships with ease. We scored 29 throughout the group stages and playoffs, conceding just 4. We got here by beating a strong Croatia side 6-1 on aggregate.


*bell rings*
“There it is lads, you know what you have to do!
Only 3 points is acceptable here!
You want to show the world that you’ve got what it takes don’t you!?
well you have to beat the best in the world! And that’s what England are”


My vice captain Cesar Azpilicuta piped up
“WE’RE SPAIN! WE ARE THE BEST IN THE WORLD
VIVA LA ESPANAAAAAAAA!”



And with a deafening roar from the players to show they were ready,
We made our way back out onto the pitch....


Monday 13th July: Part 2:

“Listen lads, a draw isn’t a bad result. If we can sort ourselves out at the back..”
the defence looked up at me slightly annoyed, I wasn’t annoyed at them, it wasn’t their fault at all,
I got my tactics wrong, I under-estimated the opposition and we paid for it
“...and keep it tight against Turkey, whilst still looking as good as we do up top, then we should score an easy 3 points against Turkey on Thursday...”


Was I right in saying this to the lads? No game is ever easy. But I was sure that the game against Turkey would be a **** sight easier than this one. Provided that the young Turks don’t get up to the same tricks the senior team do...
“...and with France in the last game, I think a draw will be enough, but I know we can win both of our games and go through to the next round comfortably. Anyway, I’ll stop going on now, well played, keep you’re heads up, and ****** off now...
Don’t forget you’re curfews 10pm, we’ve got some light training tomorrow to recover and I want you at the training pitch at 10AM tomorrow looking fresh and sharp!”


When I told them that they had a slight lie in they all looked fairly pleased, I wasn’t worried about any of them missing curfew, well. All but one. Yago of Juventus. I knew he liked a bit of a party lifestyle. He’d got a reputation back in Italy for being a talented young player, with the ego to match. He often caused trouble which is why he was languishing in the reserves when we all knew he could easily play for the first team. And after all, this was only the second time he’d been included in the squad.


I’d had no choice but to pick him, after the likes of Javi Martinez and Pedro had become unable to play for us due to be too old, this was frustrating. Both had become key figures for us during qualifying and it came as a blow when Pepe [my assistant] had told me they were ineligible to play. As far as i knew, you could name 3 players older than 21 in you’re squad, and those two were definite in my team, both so solid during qualifying, with bagging goals.


I had a quick chat with Pepe after the game, talking about how the match played out and where we thought we needed to improve. We both agreed that the defence needed sorting out, and we would work on shuring up the back line in training before the Turkey game. After talking about the game, we had a brief chat about how life was at home and so on. I’d become good friends with Pepe, he was a man I could trust both with footballing issues and personal issues. Our families also seemed to get on, which made it even better. Pepe would turn out to be a very usefully ally in the future...
 

*Jones*

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Dec 28, 2009
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Thursday 16th June 2011:




Turkey 0 – 2 Spain​
Canales (45+1, 61)​
‘That was a terrific result for us, and a spectacular performance from Sergio’ I said to Pepe on the coach back to the hotel. ‘He looked really dangerous playing on the left of the attacking 3 of midfield. He looked comfortable and took his goals well, i’m hoping he can keep this form up for the rest of the tournament.’​
I got no reply from Pepe as he sat there, staring blankly out of the rain covered window. He looked troubled, but despite him becoming a good friend recently, I could sense it was none of my business so i left him to himself, and pulled my iPod from my ‘man bag’ stored in the compartment above.​
Back to the game...​
We were terrific, we dominated from start to finish and made Turkey look amateur. They were chasing shadow’s the majority of the game, and the score line should have read more emphatically than just 2-0. 2 nil sounds like Turkey were actually in the game which would be telling a lie...​
My attacking midfield 3 looked brilliant throughout, with two of them playing slightly out of position [Pacheco and Muniain] but still looking lively. Pacheco of Liverpool looks to have a really bright future, especially if he can get some first team football under his belt soon and Muniain of Athletic already a first-team regular, although it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll leave to further his career, despite how much it’ll kill him to leave a club so close to his heart.​
Then there’s Sergio Canales, the scorer of our two goals, who’s currently playing in the Spanish second division with Castilla (Castilla are effectively Real Madrid’s) reserve team. How this kid is playing in the second division in Spain is beyond me. He could easily ‘rip it up’ in the English Premiership; the Bundesliga; or La Liga even, any of the top leagues around the world. Technically, he’s one of the best players i’ve ever seen. He can run the ball, see a pass many don’t see possible, and on top of that he’s got a keen eye for goal...​
I really am managing a talented set of players, I feel privileged to be in charge of the future of Spanish football. I truly believe that this set of players can help continue Spain’s domination of European. No. World football and prove that Spain no longer choke when it comes to the big stage...​
Next up; the French under 21’s. Possibly our toughest challenge as of yet. They have some of the best youth around, players such as Sissoko, already a first team regular at club level. They also have an amazing striker in the shape of Nimani. A young lad who plays his club football for Monaco, his pace is frightening. He might mean we need to play a deeper line, and watch for the balls over the top. It certainly should be a great game...​

 

*Jones*

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Dec 28, 2009
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Sunday 19th June 20110:




Spain 1 – 1 France​
Muniain (90+3) – Feghouli (25)​

On reflection we probably deserved to lose this game. In fact, there’s no probably about it. We should’ve been dead and buried inside the first half an hour, but of course, i’d never tell the boys that. Wouldn’t be good for morale. Oh no!

Thanks to Iker though, we managed to steal a point. I mean the word steal in every possible sense. The fact the goal came in the 93rd minute makes it sweeter I think, especially when that goal has put us through to the semi-finals, at England’s expense. Which again, makes the result feel even better, knowing we’ve knocked those schoolboy’s out.

As I said after the Turkey game, the man to watch out for would be Nimani, and he certainly didn’t disappoint. In fact, he was rather a pain in my derrière [pardon the pun]. He caused havoc whenever he touched the ball, whether that was in the middle of the park, or out wide on either of the flanks.

He can count himself highly unlucky not to have scored a hat-trick, that’s how wonderfull he was. In fact, it was his marvellous run down the left hand side that set up Feghouli for their goal. It was almost Messi-like. Splendid. He picked the ball up in his own half, talk Pacheco out of the game with a simple dummy, played a lovely one-two with Sissoko which immediately removed 2 of our players from the action, before doing numerous step-overs and putting our right back on his backside and fizzing a lovely ball into the path of Feghouli who only had to connect with it for it to be a goal.
And their was still another 20 minutes of the half to go, I could only prey we could hang on till half-time where i could have a word with the team, and we did just that, going in, rather fortunately just one behind.

The second half started just as badly as the first, France dominating the play with us left chasing shadows for the first 20 minutes. Again, we were lucky to still be 1 nil down when the news came through. England were 3-0 up against the other team from our group, Turkey. This wasn’t what I wanted to hear, this left them above us on goal difference. Sodding goal difference...

We needed to change things, and quickly. The main substitution was Iker Muniain on for the largely ineffective Bojan. As soon as Iker came on, I noticed an immediate impact, the team looked inspired (i think he’d got the message round that we were going out). We suddenly started to step up gears. Reverse to 1st. 1stnd. 3rd to 4th. 4th to 5th. Finally we’d hit top gear, but was it too little too late? There was only 10 minutes of the game left, and we needed a goal and quick. France had seen us up our game and immediately gone on the defensive. It was now their turn to chase shadows. Shadows of the silky Spaniards. Still we couldn’t find a way through their defence, and with the clock ticking down, we were getting desperate. to 2​

Not quite desperate enough to play the English way, just to lump it up to the front men, launch the ball into the box and hope for the best. No, we were better than that, better than that in every department. We were into added time now, it looked as if we were going out, and then suddenly out of nowhere, Canales turned his marker and played a delightful through ball into Muniain’s path, with just the keeper to beat he calmly side footed it under the advancing keepers body. That was it. We were though! I knew it, Pepe knew it, even the players knew it. We were going through and we’d put them out.

We didn’t care who we got in the next round, no. It doesn’t matter, we can beat anybody, any time, any place. Bring it on...
 

*Jones*

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Dec 28, 2009
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No way :( This happened the last time I read through one of your stories -- maybe I'm a jinx :(
or just bad luck :( my laptop got a virus, so had to do a full system restore, meaning i lost everything, i've re-installed FM and photoshop though :D

anyway, i might start a save up again with Spain U21's and see where i get to, obviously, results will differ though :/
 
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