Spain prepares for “yellow” football fever
About 15,000 Spanish fans led by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia will be in Vienna on Thursday to support the national team – dressed in yellow for the first time ever.25 June 2008
MADRID - "La Seleccion" takes on surprise package Russia in the Euro 2008 semi-finals in Vienna on Thursday evening.
The whole of Spain is looking forward to the game with guarded optimism, and is preparing to cheer its team into its first final since 1984.
"Red Fever" has been sweeping across Spain for two weeks now, since Luis Aragones' young team started out with a 4-1 thrashing of Russia in Innsbruck.
Television audiences for the games have been rising dramatically. On Sunday night more than 15 million Spaniards followed the dramatic penalty shootout win against world champions Italy, a new national record.
Around 10 million Spaniards are expected to watch the semi-finals, around a quarter of them on giant open-air screens.
The biggest party, as usual, will be in Madrid's massive Plaza de Colon, where around 10,000 fans will, they hope, celebrate Spain's fifth triumph in the tournament.
The only problem for "Red Fever" is that Spain will be playing...in yellow, for the first time ever. This is because Russia have been designated by UEFA as the home team.
Spain's change kit has traditionally been white, which has not brought much good luck.
There will be almost 15,000 Spanish fans in Vienna, led by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia.
The Spanish media are generally optimistic, believing that "La Seleccion" - unbeaten since November 2006 - has finally added spirit and character to its undoubted talent.
It is understood that Russia will be tougher opponents than two weeks ago, partly because of the emergence of Andrei Arshavin, wanted by Barcelona among others.
The Spanish media are worried by the minor injuries carried by tournament top scorer David Villa and Marcos Senna. Some sections of the media are pushing for Cesc Fabregas to be first choice in place of Andres Iniesta, who has failed to reproduce his Barca form in the tournament.
The only discordant note was struck by Madrid sports daily AS, which said on Wednesday that "the (football) federation has got itself into a mess, at exactly the wrong time."
AS said the federation is about to offer Aragones an improved two- year contract, despite the fact that Fernando Hierro - former World Cup captain turned "director of football" - has apparently lined up the venerable Vicente del Bosque to replace Aragones in July.
It has been understood for months now that Aragones would quit in summer, after four tempestuous years in charge, and that he reportedly has already been signed up by Turkish giants Fenerbahce.
According to AS, this "mess" could create "confusion and uncertainty at exactly the wrong time".
[dpa / Expatica]