Wednesday, the Curitiba, Brazil, Civil Defense website still provided a flood warning for the region where the Spanish National Football Team is training at the Atletico Paranaese grounds. On Tuesday, City Mayor Gustavo Fruet had explained to the media that the rainfall since Friday had been heavy but that even though "...the situation is worrying, it is under control" The Spanish team, meanwhile had gone about its business then and today, and managed several interviews with world media to boot.
It is a day of varying messages and revolving focus as the Brazilian press attempt to grapple with the myriad stories coming out of the 32 team camps spread across the country. O Globo and Journal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro's largest dailies, took different tacks on the cup this morning. Journal reported that Croatia had sent a medical report to FIFA detailing why coaches had called up midfielder Milan Badelj to take the place of Ivan Mocinic who has not recovered from an ankle injury.
O Globo ran a curious combination of photos on the front page. One, of Lionel Messi had a quote by the Argentine striker stating that "I want to win this tournament very badly." Meanwhile, the ever eloquent Diego Maradona populated the same page if in a smaller picture. His quote was: "Winning the cup in Brazil and against Brazil would be like having an orgasm."
With so much pre-tournament hoopla, and less than 30 hours before the first game, the press is running out of topics to cover with the players themselves. Thus, yesterday, they were intent on pursuing other news to file their quota of stories. Some have filed stories about what transfers might occur after the cup, or who will retire from international play, or how the players returning to clubs next season, with changed leaderships, will cope with those changes. But the players themselves do not seem interested in those topics.
Hence, Sergio Busquets was interviewed by ESPN FC about Xavi Hernandez's potential transfer away from Barcelona, and London's Daily Mirror reported Xabi Alonso was hinting at retiring from international competition when all he said was that he had "not decided whether I will quit Spain. I'm really focused on the World Cup and it all depends how I feel after the tournament. I will decide then."
Sergio Ramos, always a good interviewee, was direct about wanting to speak about the current tournament and so he did. "We've already been in Brazil for the Confederations Cup," he responded to the Daily Mirror, "Football always gives you a chance for revenge. We're the champions and there are high expectations of us...but winning the World Cup is very difficult. We have to take it one game at a time, but we are prepared to face the best in the world."
The New York Times and the Telegraph of London have focused on the "quiet" duo of midfielder Andres Iniesta and Spanish coach, Vicente del Bosque, as emblematic of that communal feeling underlying the player's resolve. Both media outlets report that Iniesta and del Bosque are the on-field/off-field team leaders and the ones who set the calm, respectful, but psychologically upbeat and confident tone that seems to pervade their camp. "Players should not just be champions on the pitch, they also have to act like champions off it," said del Bosque. "We have our system of play too, and we believe in it," he added when asked about how the contrasting styles of play in Group B might determine who moves on.
Asked about Spain's chance in the cup Iniesta responded: "We are confident we can get out of our group." The response seemed to echo the theme of quiet and unassuming confidence without the bravado that would have added a prediction of further success. Then again, in a group with Chile, Australia and Holland, being confident about progressing speaks volumes.