Given how cold and damp it is in Neustift, you could not quite say that it is fiesta time in the Spain training camp. But the arrival of some noisy and bizarrely dressed fans, and the generous free time given by Luis Aragonés to his players, have combined to make the Tyrolean resort a happy little place.
On Thursday morning there came a mini-battalion of Iberian men dressed in a mixture of long Andalusian-style womens' clothing, massive curly red-and-yellow wigs plus the odd 'toreador'. If quality was the watchword then neither their dress sense nor their singing would have earned a mention, but their enthusiastic embracing of the female wardrobe and their extremely lusty version of ¡Y viva España! won smiles among the players of La Furia Roja and much attention from international film crews. The fact Aragonés has allowed his squad almost 24 hours to relax in civvies, leaving their tracksuits and football boots to spend time wandering around Neustift with friends and family, went down a treat and meant players and supporters have been mingling with great success.
"It's all a bit of fun and we love to feel the warmth of the Spanish fans," defender Joan Capdevila said after being loudly serenaded by men in dresses. "That the supporters have travelled all the way here is impressive and their backing makes us stronger. It also makes us proud. They give us a lot of enjoyment and perhaps we can take them to the final and repay a little of the support they give us." Centre-back Juanito, like Carlos Marchena and Sergio Ramos, does not have his family with him yet, so the three men spent the free day relaxing, eating Tyrolean dishes and meeting fans. "We had a good dinner, we strolled around in search of a coffee and met loads of supporters," he said. "I lost count of how many photos we posed for and how many autographs we signed, but it was fun. The atmosphere is brilliant right now."
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