World Cup champions Spain have settled into camp in Providence, R.I., ahead of Saturday’s friendly against the United States at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. (4:30 pm ET; ESPN, Univisión), and have two objectives in mind:
Start the summer on an up note and exact a little revenge.
“The club season is over but these are important games to end with a good taste in our mouth,” Real Madrid midfielder Xabi Alonso (above, left) told media at a press conference on Thursday. “To do that, we need to start the game on the right foot against the USA, a team which we know well.”
Saturday’s game represents the first-ever match for Spain against the US on North American soil. It will be the fifth meeting all-time between the two, following the most recent matchup at the 2009 Confederations Cup semifinals, when the US shocked the world by defeating Spain 2-0 in South Africa.
It’s a match the Spanish have not forgotten.
“In the Confederations Cup, we just didn’t have a good game and it was a lesson for all of us,” Alonso said. “[The US] will hope to get a good result, but hopefully it won’t repeat itself.”
With five players hailing from Real Madrid and six from rivals and UEFA Champions League winners Barcelona, the main theme for Spain manager Vicente del Bosque continues to be the rivalry between the two La Liga clubs and whether it carries over to the national team.
“The players don’t have problems among them,” del Bosque said at the press conference. “There is a good atmosphere and a lot of desire to play two good games.”
Added World Cup and Barcelona hero Andrés Iniesta, who called the 2010-11 club season the best of his career, “Now we are on the national team and we’re defending something very different."
Following the friendly against the US, Spain will depart on Sunday for Venezuela ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Chivas USA’s Alejandro Moreno and his compatriots.
“You have to face these matches like they were in any other month of the season," said Chelsea forward Fernando Torres. "What we have to demand from ourselves is to turn these friendlies into official matches.”
After a dismal season in the English Premier League following his move from Liverpool to Chelsea, where Torres only scored one goal in 14 matches, he said it never crossed his mind that he would be left off the roster.
He’ll get the chance on Saturday to show he still has the quality when he takes the field at Gillette Stadium in front of more than 57,000 fans as the game approaches a sellout.
“It’s great news that soccer has that hook and that people want to see their national team and us as well,” Alonso said of US fans. “It’ll be big news that will take on a lot of importance in this country.”
SPAIN NATIONAL TEAM 23-MAN ROSTER:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Iker Casillas (Real Madrid), José Manuel Reina (Liverpool), Víctor Valdés (Barcelona)
DEFENDERS (7): Álvaro Arbeloa (Real Madrid), Raúl Albiol (Real Madrid), Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid), Gerard Piqué (Barcelona), Carlos Marchena (Villarreal), Joan Capdevila (Villarreal), Andoni Iraola (Athletic Bilbao)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Xabi Alonso (Real Madrid), Sergio Busquets (Barcelona), Santiago Cazorla (Villarreal), Andrés Iniesta (Barcelona), Bruno Soriano (Villarreal), Borja Valero (Villarreal)
FORWARDS (7): David Villa (Barcelona), David Silva (Manchester City), Fernando Llorente (Athletic Bilbao), Fernando Torres (Chelsea), Pedro Rodríguez (Barcelona), Manu del Moral (Sevilla), Álvaro Negredo (Sevilla).