Tuesday 16 January 2018

Spain rubbish rumours of booze-fuelled party at hotel

Iker Casillas (centre) enjoys a drink as he relaxes with team-mates Javi Martinez, Ignacio Monrea, Santiago Cazorla, Jesus Navas and David Villa at the Playa Futuro in Fortaleza
Iker Casillas (centre) enjoys a drink as he relaxes with team-mates Javi Martinez, Ignacio Monrea, Santiago Cazorla, Jesus Navas and David Villa at the Playa Futuro in Fortaleza

Jamie Holland

SPAIN have dismissed a Brazilian media story accusing them of hosting a party at their hotel in Recife with alcohol, women and a game of strip-poker after their Confederations Cup opener against Uruguay last week.

The world and European champions said six players had money stolen from their rooms while they beat Uruguay 2-1 last Sunday, but a Brazilian newspaper reported a different version of events via hotel staff.

In a story titled 'Sex, lies and videotape,' it said the thefts were noticed after the five women left the hotel the following day and that some of the events had been caught on a hotel security camera.

"Lies are always found out in the end," said Gerard Pique – one of those who reportedly had money stolen – in an interview with a Spanish radio station. "I don't think they are doing it to destabilise us."

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) issued a statement denying the story, which they said undermined the good name of the team and the reputation and professionalism of the players.

Spain will be warm favourites to beat Italy in their Confederations Cup semi-final tomorrow.

Unbeaten in their last 25 matches, they have only lost to Italy once in eight meetings since the 1994 World Cup finals, while Italy will be without Mario Balotelli, who has returned home with a thigh injury.

However, Sergio Ramos, a member of the team that crushed Italy 4-0 in the Euro 2012 final in Kiev, is taking nothing for granted.

"We know them perfectly well and we know that they will make it very difficult for us. They have the experience, a very competitive spirit," he said. "I think it will be far more difficult than in the European final."

Meanwhile, in-form striker Fred returns to the place where he made his name when Brazil face Uruguay in the first semi-final in Belo Horizonte tonight.

"No doubt about it, I feel at home here," said Fred, scorer of two goals in Brazil's 4-2 win over Italy last Saturday.

Brazil and Uruguay have a rich history of competitive games and, even though the tiny South American nation has a population 65 times smaller than Brazil's, the famously combative Uruguayans always relish facing their grander neighbours.

Brazil v Uruguay,

Live, RTE 2/BBC 3, 8.0

Irish Independent

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