squad | 2016-05-22
Iniesta to El País: ‘I’m motivated to keep making this club even greater’
Iniesta reveals what drives him on the pitch and his assessment on the upcoming Spanish Cup final against Sevilla.
The Barcelona captain sat down with El País to share his thoughts about the most recent league title, the upcoming clash against Sevilla and the path his career has taken.
“Experience excites creativity” says the singer Cristina Rosenvinge, do you agree with this?
I couldn’t answer that. I don’t think it gives you more creativity but experience teaches you automation. I don’t believe it’s a conscious process but when you learn you do the things without effort.
Up to what point did you feel you had to reinvent yourself since Luis Enrique’s arrival?
I don’t believe that’s the case, at least that’s how I feel it. It’s actually simpler than that: what I want is to play. The team requirements drive you to do what you have to do. Sometimes you play on the right, other times on the left. It’s not that I feel I’ve changed aspects in my game in a substantial manner. I’ve not changed my position nor the way I perform but I do other things. What I have not changed for sure is to play according to my instinct. No way. I play football the way I feel it.
This Barcelona team, is it more influenced by Luis Enrique on the bench or by Luis Suárez on the pitch?
It’s not like they changed us. We have the same game style but with diversity. Having Luis and Neymar up front conditions you. And conditions you for the better.
The Uruguayan has provided many goals but above all, did he give the squad determination?
Luis has many qualities. He give us a lot. First and foremost, goals. But also work, depth, guts...a lot of things. He’s decisive. Having him by our side has been a gift. He holds the ball in short passes and seeks out the long ones, he stretches the team and gives us depth. He provides us a lot.
And for you, the fact you’re the captain, what has that provided you?
I guess responsibility. It makes me feel better but it entails more responsibility. It’s a good thing. Being the captain is special, after so many years in the club, it is spectacular.
One of your predecessors used to say it means a lot of work, is it so?
It does give you work. It’s not just wearing the band, getting on the field, posing for the picture and greeting the referee. The profiles demand you have to be aware and interested about everything. You’re the one representing the group, more than ever. But I believe being the captain demands simplicity.
What entails more work for you: playing in Barcelona’s midfield or controling Piqué and Alves on social networks?
No, all the situations give you work, to manage a change of a training schedule or some teammate’s personality. Things happen in a locker room and they are always discussed. What nobody wants is to damage the group, I can tell you for sure. But there are so much opinions that they tend to exaggerate everything. And we cannot enter into that dynamic, it’s impossible to control it. If experience gives you anything, it’s knowing that you always have to provide balance.
Up to what point do you consider disrespectful or hurtful that feeling of disparagement about Barcelona’s league title?
No, I don’t see a lack of respect nor I’m hurt about anything. Barça is the champion. Period. We are the champions, we have won the league, one more time. Let them say what they want and whoever wants it, they have their right. And they can say so, that’s fine. But we are the champions and we are very happy. We won it in the last matchday and aside from being more exciting, in a way it proves this league is very difficult to win and makes our victory deserving. When you start the season, you want to win the league. It’s the reward for every weekend. It’s the cake, the important thing. The rest is just the icing on the cake. The season is always marked by the league outcome and we all know that. The other titles are not less worthy nor less difficult but being at the top after 38 games is very hard so winning the league has a special value. What is happening is that we got used to winning La Liga AND something else. But it’s not normal. It has so much value that two teams such as Atlético and Real Madrid have not won it this year.
Who’s your favorite for the [Champions League] final? Do you believe that final outshines Barcelona’s season?
Everyone makes his interpretations the way he wants it. I don’t feel less worthy that other team wins the Champions League. Or that Sevilla win two titles. I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished. We won the Champions last season, we tried hard this season and next year we will battle again for it.
And who do you want to win?
Next year? Barça, of course.
If you could save your dribbles for the pitch, I’d appreciate that. You usually say that your purpose is to be a better player every year. Have you accomplished that?
Beyond the league title, as a player, because how I have felt on the pitch and how I felt the responsibility in the game, I believe this has been one of my best years, if not the best. I have enjoyed this season so much.
Well, according to your stats you have given less passes this season…
I’m not a fan of stats. According to the statisticians I had a boring time. But truth is, I always enter the pitch to enjoy myself. And I have this year. There’s no greater reward than to head to the locker room without having been injured, winning and feeling good. And those feelings have repeated during many matches. I don’t know if I have given more or less passes, but I have had a good time. And I hope to finish the year with a good game and a good celebration.
They say there are few games in which you can enjoy more than a Spanish Cup final.
Yes, they’re special. Because you always remember the ones you watched as a child, because of the environment, the fans, because it’s not an easy road. We started ours against Villanovense, we played against Espanyol and then Athletic and Valencia.
How have you felt about the estelades issue? Does this subject upset the locker room?
We tried to stay away from it. The final should be a celebration and I’m interested in the game, how to beat Sevilla which is one hell of a team, and in enjoying the game. But it seems now, everything but football is discussed. They should know better. I have my opinion and I’m keeping it to myself because it can be misunderstood.
What’s so difficult about this Sevilla side? How do you justify that drive which conquers the rivals?
Sevilla have a lot of football, that’s why they are such a competitive and dangerous team. They are always difficult for us. They demand you to be aware of many details. Basically, they know their game plan because they have a hardworking coach, who always knows what to do and forces the rival to be very aware.
Is having Messi on your squad your advantage?
Why deny the fact, it does make it easier. It’s like a guarantee. Sometimes it seems we’re playing with 12 men. We’re talking about a guy who can play as full back and be the best player of the match, he’s the main determinant. That’s our luck, having Leo with us.
Is that the reason you have won the mind-blowing--in Piqué’s words--number of six leagues out of the last eight?
Six league titles out of the last eight is indeed mind-blowing. It’s jaw-dropping. Everyone will see it their way but the results are there and that means something is being done right. I don’t know if you can ask for more. I guess you can, to win the Champions League next year and not get eliminated in the last-eight round but it’s not that easy.
Why do Cholo’s and Zidane’s work get so much praise and Luis Enrique’s work is underestimated?
I don’t know, I’m not aware of that. Here, we appreciate what Luis Enrique does and what he wins. But look, I have two children and they fill a lot of my time. I don’t pay attention to much more. From football to the kids. I leave the training grounds, I get home and it’s a different life. I swear to you, the demand is different. A wonderful one, but what they say or don’t say, I don’t know. My appreciation is on other things.
Are you aware that you’re close to having more titles than years?
I know it because people have told me so but I don’t keep count. I’m not aware of the magnitude you can have by obtaining so many things in this club. I’m motivated to keep adding titles to make this club even greater. I wouldn’t have dreamt this, not even on my best dreams.
Anything wrong? Send your correction.
WRITTEN BY: Jaime Ibarra
Jaime is a chemical engineer from Venezuela who is passionate about football and Barça. He loves the club’s history and he has been an unconditional fan since Ronaldo “The Phenomenon” amazed the world with the Blaugrana colors.