Category: Spain



(Esta nota fue escrito originariamente en junio 2015)

Finalmente el Everton ha completado el fichaje de Gerard Deulofeu después de semanas de negociación y especulación.

El mediocampista español viene desde Barcelona para €6m en un contrato de tres años. Marca el segundo fichaje de Everton este verano, después de la llegada Tom Cleverley desde Manchester United.

Deulofeu se presenta como jugador de Everton

Deulofeu se presenta como jugador de Everton

Deulofeu pasó una temporada exitosa en el club inglés en 2013-14 pero encontró menos oportunidades en su regreso al Barca eso verano.

El rápido joven, de 21 años se considera muy bien entre los expertos como un extremo promisorio y ahora hay debate entre las hinchas y oficiales de Barca, centrado en el precio bajo de su traspaso al Everton.

El entrenador de los Toffees, Roberto Martinez cree que ahora Deulofeu es un jugador aún más talentoso que el joven que fue cedido al Goodison Park hace dos años.

Añadió que el fichaje de Deulofeu fue uno de sus objetivos más vitales del verano.


Thanks to all the deadline day frenzy involving Marouane Fellaini, James McCarthy et al, Joel Robles’ arrival at Goodison has almost been forgotten already, but the goalkeeper looks to be a shrewd signing by Roberto Martinez. Though first-choice custodian Tim Howard has been a fine servant of the club over the past seven years, as the popular American approaches the end of his career, it’s reassuring to see that Martinez already has a worthy replacement lined up.

Robles entered English football fans’ consciousness in January with an impressive loan spell at Martinez’s Wigan Athletic – so impressive, in fact, that the 23-year-old ousted Ali Al-Habsi (a veteran almost ten years his senior) as the club’s first-choice goalkeeper. However, the Getafe-born shot-stopper is much better known in his home country, having been a part of the Spanish national youth set-up since he was 16.

Joel the giant: the lanky Spaniard feels he’s made for the English game (pic: Premier League)

Joel joined Atletico Madrid’s academy in 2005 and eventually became a regular for the club’s reserve side, but sought a move abroad earlier this year when first-team opportunities remained limited. His time at Wigan was fruitful and culminated in an FA Cup winner’s medal as he helped the Latics surprise Manchester City in the final.

The player cites his physical attributes as key to his success, and at 6ft 5”, it’s easy to see why. Robles believes his huge frame will help him deal with aerial challenges in one of Europe’s more physical leagues. Handed a 5-year deal by his compatriot Martinez, it’s clear Everton see the ‘keeper as a fine prospect and – with the possible exception of McCarthy – Robles is perhaps the summer signing likely to be turning out in royal blue for years to come.

Arguably the biggest challenge for Robles will be to avoid repeating the fate of his back-up predecessor, Jan Mucha, who was consigned to the bench throughout his career at Goodison. The Slovakian was released this summer having made just two league appearances in three years in Merseyside, but Robles looks better equipped to seriously challenge Howard for game time, with the American another year older and Joel already boasting experience in the Premier League.

Indeed, Martinez has described the Spaniard as “someone who is going to give us great protection and fight with Tim Howard – and push him all the way.” For that level of competition, the £650,000 Martinez paid Atletico Madrid seems a bargain. Joel concurs: “It is a great honour to work with Tim – he’s a great, great goalkeeper and I am looking forward to learning a lot from him.”

Bergara’s presence should allow Robles to settle quickly (pic: ceroacero.es)

The player has also been quick to emphasize the importance of being reunited with Wigan goalkeeping coach Inaki Bergara, who also worked under Martinez at Swansea and followed him from the DW Stadium this summer. “I am delighted to be back working with Inaki again – he is a great professional and a really nice guy,” says Joel. The feeling is clearly mutual – Bergara has already professed his belief that Robles “has lots of potential” – and this relationship could prove pivotal to Joel’s success at Everton.

Howard may have seen off many a back-up over the years, but it looks like Robles could finally be the worthy replacement the club have been searching for. With bundles of talent and a long career ahead of him, don’t be surprised if Joel is one of the first names on the Everton team-sheet in a few years’ time.


This article, by Natalia Guerrero, originally appeared on the BBC Mundo (the Spanish-language BBC) site on 10 June 2013; all credit should be given to her. The original article can be accessed at http://www.bbc.co.uk/mundo/noticias/2013/06/130609_cultura_haiti_espana_cronica_miami_ng.shtml.

24 hours before their game against Spain, Haiti’s national football team still doesn’t have a kit or anywhere to train. It’s raining non-stop in Miami and Haiti’s limited resources mean they’re unable to hire somewhere undercover to practice.

Haiti, one of the world’s poorest countries, had sent their team to this American city to face Spain – the world champions – for the first time in their history. The incentives for setting up the clash included the presence of the Spanish superstars, the agreement that, for every spectator attending the game, $1 would be donated to Haiti, and moreover, the chance to see a classic David versus Goliath encounter.

However, the feeling of jubilation enjoyed by almost all of the 37,000 fans at the Sun Life stadium when the Haitian forward Donald Guerrier scored his country’s only goal against Spain contrasted with the team’s reality for the rest of the week. BBC Mundo accompanied the lonely Haitian team on their journey to play the world’s favourite team.

Extra Shirt

It’s 3:30 on Friday evening – the day before the game –  and the kit is due to arrive at the hotel where the team are staying. The Colombian Miguel Trujillo, the Haiti Football Federation’s exclusive agent, is feeling stressed. He doesn’t want the players or the coaching staff to arrive at the press conference without a shirt to wear. “They have to be equal to Spain. Haiti is beginning a new era in which it won’t lack the basics. We’re not inferior to anyone,” affirms the agent.

Miguel Trujillo presents the new shirt to one of the Haitian players (Photo: BBC)

However, Trujillo has had to jump through all kinds of hoops to make sure the eleven boxes of kit arrive on time.  They come from Colombia because Saeta, a sports clothes manufacturer, agreed to sponsor Haiti with high-tech kit. Their contract with the Haitian Football Federation, according to Trujillo, will last 4 years, in which time the company will invest close to $1 million; their shirts will be sold online and through the Federation.

But according to defender Judelain Aveska, the most exciting part of the agreement is that the players are now able to exchange shirts with their opponents at the end of a game – something that was previously unthinkable: if they’d given their shirt away in the past, they wouldn’t have had a shirt to wear in the next game.

A Turbulent Week

That Friday, Haitian officials had managed to secure the use of a playing field on the outskirts of Miami. Training lasted less than ten minutes. The players began to form two circles, but while they filled the field with their singing and laughter, it began to hail, and they were forced to take shelter. After two hours of waiting hopelessly for the weather to clear up, Blake Cantero – the team’s technical director, of Cuban origin – was concerned; his team were unable to train, partly because of the rain and partly because they’d only arrived the day before.

“We are Cubans, they don’t give us the Visa easily,” he told us, to explain the delay, adding that the side’s fitness coach – also Cuban – hadn’t received his Visa in time for the match. Cantero asked the players to board the bus and assured us that he would get them to jog along the corridors of the hotel, because “they can’t arrive like this tomorrow.”

The two Cubans have been in charge of Haiti’s national team for little over a year; their presence in the team is based on an agreement between the football federations of the two countries which is understood as a Cuban mission in Haiti. Each one has been allocated a monthly salary of $1,000 – all the Haitian Federation can afford given it has just one sponsor. To put that in perspective, their wage is roughly 158 times less than what Spain coach Vicente Del Bosque earned in 2012.

Life After Death

The earthquake in 2010, which devastated the country and caused more than 200,000 deaths, instilled in the players a renewed sense  of responsibility for their country. This has resulted in an improvement in the FIFA World Rankings: Haiti has gone up 18 places in the last two years and are now ranked 63rd – above countries with economic conditions much more favourable for sport, and with more experience in international competition.

“After the earthquake, something very strong happened in the players – a positive reaction to the tragedy. We understood that we were playing not only for ourselves…now we have a concrete way of obtaining money for our country,” says midfielder Jean-Marc Alexandre.

The whole stadium celebrated Haiti’s goal against the world champions (Photo: BBC)

One of the first examples of that “concrete” method of helping their country occurred just a few days after the earthquake. The team travelled to Germany for a game; the money raised by the match was donated to the Haitian government. Almost half a million dollars were raised – money which was invested in the reconstruction of the Football Federation’s Headquarters (which had disappeared with the tragedy)  and in the building and improvement of football facilities.

The Federation now boasts its own bus and a school for children in which they’re given training, education, food and free accommodation as a way of escaping their difficult environments.

“The ball is a little round thing and it’s for everyone”

Before the game, Judelain Aveska, a defender for Independiente de Rivadavia in the Argentine second tier, forms an imaginary sphere with his hands. I ask him if he thinks Haiti can beat Spain, and he tells me – in Spanish, with an Argentine accent – “the ball’s a little round thing, and it’s for everyone”.

His team-mate Jean-Marc Alexandre, a player for American side Orlando City, agrees that the two teams have the same possibilities: “We respect them, but it doesn’t mean we can’t beat them. We’re ready and excited to play,” he told BBC Mundo. Both players are Christians, and revealed that they often pray before a match. “Before I go out on the pitch, I pray that my opponent doesn’t get injured, because an injury can end your life,” says Jean-Marc

“We’re not aliens”

Despite losing 2-1 to Spain, the Haitian players are content at the final whistle. Fans gather in front of the team bus at the stadium exit to greet the Haitians as if they’d won, asking for autographs and pictures. Minutes later, in the press conference inside the stadium, goalscorer Donald Guerrier is sat between coach Cantero and a translator. He looks happy; he says his goal was dedicated to his son, born the previous day.

Although Guerrier has been patient with the journalists’ repetitive questions, this time he decides to answer more bluntly: asked how he feels, having scored against the best team in the world, he retorts: “I’m not an alien, I’m a human and my job is to score goals if the ball comes to me. On the pitch, we’re all equal.”

With that attitude, the Haitian team left later that day for Brazil, with another friendly lined up against Italy on Tuesday.


Spain booked their place in the Euro 2012 final  on Wednesday by shading a close semi-final against Iberian neighbours Portugal. Extra time and penalties were required to separate the two sides, with Spain’s eventual triumph meaning they have played their part in setting up a repeat of the Euro 2008 final, in which they beat Germany 1-0.

This game was the first competitive derby since Spain’s 1-0 win in the second round of the 2010 World Cup. David Villa had scored the decisive goal that day, and Spain could dearly have done with him last night as they struggled to a shoot-out win over a surprisingly positive Portuguese side.

The omens coming into the game were not looking good for Paulo Bento’s Portugal  – despite rarely stepping out of second gear, Spain had conceded just once in the tournament so far, and had easily overcome France in the quarter-final despite playing without a recognised striker for much of the game.

Seemingly recognising that this tie would be tougher than the France game, Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque started with Sevilla forward Alvaro Negredo –an unusual choice given the fact that Negredo has just 12 caps to his name.

However, it was Portugal who dominated the opening exchanges  here, with Bento’s men enjoying the game’s first shots and corners as they surprised Spain with their high pressure and intensity, which denied Spain the time and space to employ their attractive, infamous passing game to full effect.

Inevitably, the Spaniards soon recovered to establish a measure of control over the game – Portugal were predictably unable to keep this intensity up for 90 minutes. Before 15 minutes had elapsed, both Alvaro Arbeloa and Andres Iniesta had fired over from the edge of the box, and Spain’s higher-tempo passing demonstrated a side keen to step up through the gears.

Portugal did well to limit Spain’s tiki-taka for much of the game

Portugal, unsurprisingly, attempted to utilize the speed of wingers Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani to trouble Spain’s defence, and on 15 minutes the two combined to almost devastating effect. Ronaldo’s searching cross from the left by-line was brilliantly plucked from Nani’s head by Iker Casillas, denying Portugal a sure goal.

Ironically, Spain’s closest effort of the first half came from an uncharacteristic long ball into Negredo, which was eventually worked to Iniesta, the Barcelona man’s curling effort narrowly clearing Rui Patricio’s crossbar.

Portugal almost took the lead themselves on the half-hour through Ronaldo’s low left-foot drive, and the Real Madrid man’s threat was shown by Sergio Ramos’ 40th-minute booking for a crude foul on the winger. The Spanish defence, not troubled unduly in any of their previous games, was now struggling to keep tabs on Portugal’s attack.

Half-time came and went without an improvement in Spain’s fortunes, and just eight minutes into the second half, Del Bosque withdrew the largely anonymous Negredo in favour of Cesc Fabregas, reverting to a bizarre, but trusted, strikerless formation.

Portugal continued to match their illustrious opponents, with burly forward Hugo Almeida wasting two decent openings, followed by a second Spain player, a clearly annoyed Sergio Busquets, being cautioned for dissent.  Indeed, Del Bosque again turned to the bench on the hour in an attempt to influence proceedings, replacing David Silva with Jesus Navas.

The change coincided with an upturn in Spanish fortunes: on 64 minutes Fabregas was upended by Joao Pereira on the edge of the box when set to go through on goal, and three minutes later, Xavi’s long-range effort into Rui Patricio’s midriff provided – unbelievably  – Spain’s first shot on target of the game.

However, it was Portugal who enjoyed the better chances in the final 20 minutes, a succession of narrowly-over Ronaldo free-kicks being followed by a brilliant break-away being let down by the same man’s uncharacteristically-rushed finish.

Predictably, the start of extra time – combined with the fact that seven of the 22 players were on yellow cards – led to a slump in tempo. 13 minutes into the additional 30, Spain worked – and missed – the best opportunity of the match. Great work by substitute Pedro gifted Iniesta, but the Barcelona midfielder’s side-foot shot was brilliantly saved by Rui Patricio.

Ramos cheekily lifts the ball over the prone Rui Patricio to emulate Andrea Pirlo’s spot-kick against England

The goalkeeper had kept his country in the tournament, but as it became apparent that the match was headed for penalties, he would need to produce further heroics if Portugal were to progress.

Spain’s Xabi Alonso stepped up to take the first spot-kick – in the same goal he had scored in against France – but saw his kick saved by Patricio. Portugal’s first effort, taken by Joao Moutinho, was almost a mirror image – the Porto man’s shot was similarly saved by Iker Casillas.

Successful penalties from Iniesta, Pepe, Gerard Pique and Nani followed, leaving the pressure on Spain’s Sergio Ramos to regain the lead for his country. A brilliantly cool Panenka-esque penalty rubbed salt into Portugal’s wounds, which were further deepened by Bruno Alves seeing his effort cannon off the bar straight afterwards. The defender had mistakenly stepped up for Portugal’s third effort only to be sent on a walk of shame back to the half-way line upon finding it was Nani’s turn instead, and was clearly full of nerves as he belatedly took his penalty.

Ron Man Team: Portugal’s star player was unable to lead his nation to the final

That miss meant that Fabregas had the chance to send his country to the final with Spain’s fifth spot-kick. Under huge pressure, an ice-cool Cesc told the ball to “make history” as he approached the penalty spot, and the ball duly obliged as the ex-Arsenal skipper sent Spain to their third successive major tournament final…via an agonizing bounce of the far post.

Having banked on the shoot-out coming down to the tenth kick, Ronaldo had positioned himself as Portugal’s fifth penalty-taker, and was clearly devastated not to have had a say in proceedings – although many felt Spain had just deserved the win over the 120 minutes, Ronaldo was seen to mutter “Injustica.. (injustice)” as Fabregas wheeled away in delight.

Portugal boss Paulo Bento later revealed that his side had planned for penalties, but in hindsight, both he and Ronaldo would have chosen the Real Madrid man for one of Portugal’s earlier efforts, rather than relying on the likes of Bruno Alves to keep them in the shoot-out.

Spain will face Italy (who somewhat surprisingly triumphed over Germany in the other semi-final) in the final on July 1, and despite a slow start here, they will still enter crowning showdown in Kiev with a great chance of winning their third tournament in a row.

Images: David Silva vs Coentrao & Bruno Alves – http://online.wsj.com; Sergio Ramos Panenka penalty – http://www.telegraph.co.uk/; Cristiano Ronaldo – www.thesun.co.uk 


Spain progressed to the semi-finals of Euro 2012 last night with a routine 2-0 win over Laurent Blanc’s listless France. The holders took the lead through a Xabi Alonso header early on, before a late penalty from the same player – making his 100th appearance for Spain – secured the win.

As in the group stage, Spain started the game without a recognised forward on the pitch, with Cesc Fabregas ploughing a lone furrow ahead of the central midfield trident of Xavi, Iniesta and Alonso.

In a bid to stifle Spanish winger Jordi Alba’s influence, France deployed Lyon right-back Anthony Réveillère on the right hand side of midfield, with first-choice full-back Mathieu Debuchy playing behind him.

Ribery and Nasri – two of France’s biggest threats – were disappointing as their side crashed out

Predictably, Spain dominated the early stages of the match, with right-back Alvaro Arbeloa seeing plenty of the ball as France chose to concentrate on defending the left wing. Just  5 minutes in Fabregas had a penalty claim waved away, the Barcelona man tumbling too easily under former Arsenal team-mate Gaël Clichy’s challenge.

If France’s game plan was to soak up pressure and reach half-time goalless, it didn’t work. Just 19 minutes in, Jordi Alba’s cross was headed back across goal by the late-arriving Xabi Alonso, nestling in Hugo Lloris’ far corner. Ironically, given France’s doubling-up on Alba, the goal had come from the Valencia man’s wingplay.

The goal forced France to come out of their shell, but it took Blanc’s men 25 minutes to register their first shot on goal: Karim Benzema’s hideously ballooned free-kick, which sailed over Iker Casillas’ crossbar, highlighted the difference in effiency between the two teams – Spain’s first effort on target had resulted in a goal.

With set-pieces commonly highlighted as the easiest way to score against Spain, it was Yohan Cabaye’s curling free-kick on the half-hour mark that had Casillas scrambling for the first time in the match. Tellingly, Cabaye’s effort, from 35 yards out, was the closest his country would come to scoring.

Half-time allowed France to regroup, and unsurprisingly, the second half saw Les Blues commit more men forward as they recognised they were 45 minutes away from elimination. With Benzema and Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery underwhelming, it was full-back Mathieu Debuchy’s header that narrowly cleared Casillas’ crossbar and fired a warning to the previously untroubled Spanish defence.

Xabi Alonso marked his 100th international cap by clinching the tie for his country

However, France’s need to score provided Spain with an opportunity to counter-attack – just after the hour mark Fabregas was sent clear, only denied by Lloris racing off his line to block. Recognising further firepower was needed, Blanc replaced Debuchy and Florent Malouda with the more attacking duo of Jeremy Menez and Samir Nasri with 25 minutes remaining. Having played the majority of the game without a recognised striker, Spain introduced Fernando Torres for Fabregas soon afterwards. It is hard to imagine any other country being able to win matches fairly comfortably without a forward in their starting line-up – a testament to Spain’s ability.

With 12 minutes remaining, France sent on targetman Olivier Giroud, but it was too little, too late as Blanc’s men neglected to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at their illustrious opponents. Indeed, French misery was further compounded as Réveillère upended Pedro in the last minute. Alonso confidently sent Lloris the wrong way from the spot to secure his country’s passage to the semi-finals, and book a mouthwatering clash with Portugal.

The French players’ lack of reaction at the final whistle said it all: they never looked like upsetting the odds against a below-par Spain team that eased off after scoring. Spain had never beaten France in a competitive game before last night, and they could well be making further history by winning three successive major competitions come the final on 1 July.

Images: Ribery & Nasri – www.football365.com; Alonso – www.zimbio.com