The Telegraph
Sunday , June 17 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Checking in at the Spanish hideaway

Gniweino: Spain threw open the doors of their secluded hideaway in northern Poland to offer fans a tantalising glimpse of just how European and world champions live.

La Roja generously invited the travelling media to the Mistral Sport, a four-star hotel in the village of Gniewino, 70 kilometres from the Baltic port city of Gdansk, where the team gave Ireland a lesson in football on Thursday.

Jacuzzis, a gym, sauna, swimming pool, chill-out rooms and even a heliport for emergencies are things the highest-paid professionals in the sport can’t live without.

But Spain have adapted the picturesque hotel for their very specific needs.

Beyond the white and cream marble-floored entrance hall is an editing room, where backroom staff of the defending European champions and World Cup 2010 winners put together detailed video analysis of their opponents.

Stuck to the wall are the tournament predictions of reserve goalkeeper Pepe Reina, who has forecast that the Euro 2012 final on July 1 in Kiev will involve France and unsurprisingly Spain.

Reina has also unashamedly marked out teammate David Silva as tournament’s top goal-scorer.

Up the sweeping staircase to the 113-room hotel’s first floor, Paco Jimenez, who’s in charge of watching Spain’s opponents, shuffles his files in the office where the technical staff work.

Jimenez could talk all day about tactics and techniques and explains that the file on Spain’s final opponents in Group C, Croatia, has been ready for a long time.

“We’ll have to watch out for (Luka) Modric, who’s a great player, and (Mario) Mandjukic, who’s got off to a very good start,” he said about the danger men when Spain head up the road again to the 40,000-seater Arena Gdansk on Monday.

Like a musician, Jimenez always has to anticipate. He let slip that he has already started looking at Roy Hodgson’s England and Laurent Blanc’s France as Spain's possible quarter final opponents.

Up on the hotel’s second floor, there are games rooms with table tennis and snooker tables as well as easy chairs and the prerequisite PlayStation.

But Spain’s players have also been whiling away the hours in a different way.

Behind one set of doors is a remote-controlled car racing circuit, a favourite toy for the players although, disappointingly for the travelling press, the controls were elsewhere.

Further along is something more typically Spanish the “parchis” or boardgame room.

On the other side of the hallway are the players’ rooms, each of them with a photograph of the occupant inside on the door.

Team captain Iker Casillas’ room and that of Barcelona’s Xavi Hernandez are further away from the squad.

Inside, the rooms are spacious without being excessively large: each has a papered feature wall in grey beige, a kingsize bed and are decorated with photos of sports stars of yesteryear.