On July 8-9 2017, 15 national teams from all over Europe will compete in Oslo, Norway for the title of European Champion. The next article in our European Games 2017 series is on Team Spain.
Andrea de Alfonso
Sandor Aritz Augusto*
Max Robert Michael Freemantle
Manuel Estevo Lago
Miguel Vázquez (Captain)
* denotes players who will be seeking
Interview with Head Coach Héctor Cabrera
Interviewed by Yeray Espinosa Cuevas
Quidditch Post: How are you preparing your team for European Games (EG)?
Cabrera: This season is the best one to date from the point of view of preparation. We’ve had a few, but quite well–organised, training sessions, with a proper strategic and tactical plan from the start. At our June training session, our players were able to internalize our strategic plan. Now, just weeks from Oslo, all that lies in front of us is individual work and mental preparation.
QP: What are you hoping to achieve at the tournament?
Cabrera: From a development standpoint, to establish a strong style of play, capable of facing Europe’s best. Competitively, we are currently seeded sixth, and that’s the lowest position we should accept. Breaking into the top five would be a clear success for us.
QP: Which teams do you particularly want to play against?
Cabrera: I think Germany right now stands as our biggest threat in the group phase; we are aware of their improvement since World Cup. Then, on the one hand, facing the UK or Norway again to try to best our last results against them would be interesting, but on the other hand, it would be a pleasure to face France, and also to meet new teams from Group C.
QP: What challenges have you had to face in the build-up to this tournament?
Cabrera: Mostly economical ones. It is no secret that getting to Oslo is expensive, and we have lost some of our first choices for the roster over that. Apart from that, Asociación Quidditch España (AQE) [the governing body of quidditch in Spain] is still growing, and I’m sure that in future seasons we will benefit from a more regular training calendar.
QP: What are the strengths of your team? Are there any key players we should watch out for?
Cabrera: I’d say that we are strong on fast and agile players, as well as having a great deal of previous experience playing internationally in most of the players. I’d keep an eye on Pablo Rey as a frenetic beater, and also on Andoni Aranguren – always a sure bet in the green headband. At the same time, I think that Raqui Martínez is going to follow in the steps of Siena Martínez in Frankfurt and be a key player [at EG].
QP: You had three (as of publication) drops (Pedro Muiños, Ali Muiños, and Jorge Rodríguez). How did that affect your team?
Cabrera: The three of them are very impressive players, all coming from the current Spanish champion club, Lumos Compostela, and we were initially counting on them. Thankfully, we have been able to cover their spots with talented players, some of them having played with the team last July (Pedro G-Tarrio), and others merging into the roster with ease and showing they deserve the spot. In the end, we’re attending with a full roster, and that’s great.
By Sarah-Louise Lewis
As we head into the European Games, Spain are determined to improve on their performance at the World Cup last year and show that they are not to be underestimated.
Captain Miguel Vázquez is an experienced leader and has the trust of his players, which will be essential on pitch. Spain has a good beater defense in Pablo Rey and Laura Moreno: Rey is small, agile, and speedy in his play style which will be key in terms of attack and defense – especially after the dropout of Jorge Rodríguez, and Moreno is one of the best beaters on the team. She is an outstanding tackler for her size and also has good positioning which allows her to make easy beats. With these two, we can expect the chasers to have plenty of opportunities to move forward and score.
In Spain’s quaffle game, Andoni Aranguren is growing into the role of primary keeper in the absence of Pedro Muiños. He is a competent driver who will be looking to unlock defences with his intense pushes as a key part of Spain’s offence. Fraser Posford is an experienced point defender who adds some steel to the defence; he will be key in holding off players and forcing quaffle turnovers. The trio of chasers Paula Marmolejo, Irene Velasco, and Raqui Martínez are all confident in playing through contact and driving those extra few meters to finish off a hoop. They might be what Spain needs to get those goals and reach the higher stages of the tournament. Finally, Manuel Lago is a tall chaser who has superb aerial skills and is extremely potent around the hoops.
The Spanish team are more than capable of reaching the quarterfinals but reaching that stage will most likely involve a SWIM match in the first round of bracket play on Day Two. This places a lot of importance on seekers Sandor Aritz Augusto and Artur Martin (who has only just returned from a broken hand).
While Spain have been able to train and prepare more than they have in previous years, they have only been able to hold so many training sessions during this season. The downside of this is that even though they have had successful training sessions, they have not been able to get all 21 players together due to financial and geographical issues (i.e., players coming from all over Spain and even one player residing in the US). This means that they might lack the chemistry the other teams have when they start the tournament.
With all that aside, Spain seem confident moving into European Games and are definitely out to prove that they are constantly improving and can compete with the top teams. The team came 10th at World Cup 2016, which was a real achievement for them. They will be looking to beat Italy and Catalonia again and have their rematch against Austria. From there they will push even harder to earn a place in the quarterfinals and a chance to have a go at one of the top five teams.