The goalkeeper appears before the media at the Petrovsky stadium, the national team’s training ground, located six kilometers from the Gazprom Arena, where this Friday Spain will play its quarter-final match against Switzerland.

Unai Simn, during the press conference.Anatoly MaltsevEFE

At first glance, the Petrovsky Stadium looks more like a cross between a bullring and a Greek temple. A handful of huge Corinthian columns surround an enclosure whose entrances have a bullfighting aesthetic. It was what was worn in 1925, when it was inaugurated as the Lenin Stadium. It will be rebuilt after the Second World War and remodeled for the 1980 Olympic Games. Through a small door next to line 13 there is access to a tiny and very hot press room (improvised peln) with school seats.

In 2017, Petrovsky, with its flawless running track and four formidable spotlight towers, was no longer the home of the city’s team, Zenit. The World Cup in Russia (2018) and the Gazprom rubles ended in a galactic stadium six kilometers away. These days, his silence has been broken by the Spanish team, which is preparing its quarter-final match against Switzerland, on a millimeter green.

The Petrovsky thing is due to the name of its location, a small island where the murmur of the imposing Neva River is barely perceived. There, as in much of the city, the noise of the virus does not reach either. More than 100 deaths daily in the last week. The dreaded Delta variant has come to question the role of St. Petersburg in this European Championship.

Unai Simn, one of the names of the pass against Croatia, entered the Petrovsky press room as if Monday (that blunder trying to clear a ball) was a year ago. A calm guy who, nevertheless, has turned the matter around since he landed yesterday from Copenhagen. “I’ve been martyred a bit, I’ve seen it six or seven times. It slips away and I don’t know … I had a lot of room to control and I tried to get the ball out with the control. In the end it’s an accident. my life and none had ended like that, “commented the Spanish starting goalkeeper, immovable since the concentration began, just a month ago.

“Luis Enrique guides us along the way”

That afternoon against Croatia he already has a special corner in his short career. More than the failure, for the subsequent successes that ended up pushing the selection to the quarterfinals. “” It was a rush for me. After the mistake, having people cheer you on after five minutes is amazing. Emotionally, I have lived matches with stronger feelings, especially in the Copa del Rey finals for Athletic. But professionally he has been the most important “, admits the goalkeeper, who will also defend in Such the goalkeeper of the Olympic team.

For him, one of the secrets of this selection is to function as a team. “These competitions are won by teams, not by national teams. We are very close,” he acknowledged, also praising the role of Luis Enrique. “He guides us where we have to go, he has transmitted a decisive message to us from the first moment. I don’t know how we would be with another coach,” he added.


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