My wife and I attended the public training sessions for both Spain and the USA this afternoon. Some random thoughts:
Lots of Barca shirts in the crowd, some Madrid, though a lot of the Madridistas could've been wearing Spanish jerseys--I saw a lot of those. Several Liverpool shirts of various vintages, and one brave soul wearing a Torres Chelsea shirt. Almost as brave as the one Atletico supporter I saw in red and white stripes.
Alisa and I had the only two Villarreal shirts in the crowd. There were two media crews who came through--the first seemed to want to ask Americans why they weren't cheering for the USA or something like that, but the second was clearly interested to learn that there were American supporters of Villarreal and was interested to learn about this website, our penya, and how closely we followed the team (maddi, it sounds like your visit with Bruno!).
I mention this because being the idiot I am I forgot to ask which media outlet he worked for. So if any of you in Spain see a clip with a Villarreal supporter at the training session, that's me!
The contrast between the US and Spanish training was interesting. The Americans started with a couple of laps around the full pitch, then some stretches before turning to some drills. They played basically two five-on-five games on different quarters of the pitch, and there were a couple of segments where players received crosses from someone on the side and tried to beat Tim Howard in the goal. There were a few other things as well, but you get the general idea.
My wife said she knew Spain's approach would be different, but was nonetheless surprised at how different it was. There was no shooting practice, no free-kick practice, no running laps. Just stretches that metamorphosed into some passing between players in groups of two and three-- then the groups got larger. After a break for Gatorade or whatever the team played essentially a full-side game in about a quarter of the pitch (one of the goals was on the center line and they basically used only about half the width of the pitch as well).
Basically what the team worked on and featured was teamwork and ball control. I'm assuming the blues will be starting, the bibs won't, so that would indicate Capdevila, Santi Cazorla, and Bruno will be starting, Borja and Marchena will not. I didn't keep score in this one (the interview happened during this) but I'm pretty sure the blues won; Llorente, I think it was?, and Villa both had nice goals and I only remember one at the other end, I believe by Negredo.
Sid Lowe has an article today criticizing the Spanish federation's overwork of the players in friendlies like this, and not to put a damper on the event, but you could appreciate that from the stands during the practice. Jet lag, fatigue, it has to be there. And their schedule once here has been filled with appearances, events, etc., I gather, though a lot of it seems to be for the media, soccer coaches, etc. rather than the average fan.
And it's not just the Spanish federation that is cashing in on the money spinner. The US federation set up this open practice (it cost to get in, of course!) which is fine, but surely they had to know that the two teams would use different halves of the pitch. Yet, they only allowed fans to sit alongside the half where the US practiced, which wasn't necessary, surely. (It was necessary to have the teams practice on different halves--the turf has been laid down over the artificial surface and, as you can see in the photo, is far from perfect; I think it will cut up quickly).
Iker Casillas spent the entire time working with one of the coaches away from the rest of the team and so had fans quite close to him behind that goal. No one else did.
I heard a little grumbling from fans who had wanted to try to get an autograph from someone or another, but there wasn't really any opportunity for the players to do that even if they had wanted to. They had to go get back on the bus and head back to their hotel to eat and sleep--and fit in the media interviews, of course.
And in fairness, they had already done an autograph event in the area (organized by Adidas, naturally) earlier in the day.
I will be at the match tomorrow and will try to post my thoughts tomorrow night. 4:30 PM EDT on ESPN.
And don't forget the final Villarreal B match of the season, against Real Betis, earlier in the day. Endavant Villarreal!!