Javi Martínez (!!!) & Thiago at El País
When Javi (!!!) met Thiago… El País got the two of them together to talk about football. Despite the overly technical chat, there were some fun moments, such as when Thiago made fun of Javi (!!!)’s English. I really do wish I could have heard what Javi (!!!) said to the referee in the Czech Republic game.
They’re so different yet so complementary. Javi Martínez and Thiago Alcántara have formed a productive partnership in the midfield that is the backbone of the U-21 team. Martínez’s sobriety mixes with the irreverence of Thiago. They’re only two years apart, but football values experience, not what’s written on the identiy card. That’s why Javi Martínez is the captain, and Thiago the understudy. The former is already a world champion with the senior team, and the second aspires to be one. He’s even affirmed that he not only wants to triumph in Barça, but in football as well.
JM: I’m not one to give advice. I’m the one to encourage others, not only here, but in Athletic as well. That’s the way I am, wherever I am. In addition, they all have the knowledge already. They know what they have to do, along with the instructions that the coach gives to them.
TA: We just came from having lunch.
The sarcastic spirit of the Barça midfielder emerges in every moment. In the direct dialogue with Javi Marínez, Thiago’s Galician and Brazilian essence come out, mixing in a cocktail that resembles his football: there’s only a place for happiness.
TA: For me, it’s a privilege to play alongside this world champion. I pay attention to everything, perhaps too much. I focus on his character, what helped him become a world champion. But you can’t tell that he or Juan (Mata) won a title. Neither are conceited. In fact, if we have to work hard, they’re the first ones to do so, if anyone needs encouragement, they’re the first ones to do so. You have to value this.
JM: The important thing is that it’s the míster in charge and we have to do what he orders, not what Mata or I think, because we won the World Cup. We, along with everyone else, have to reflect that on the field.
The curious thing is that the voice of experience, Javi, is the one that plays differently with his club, and Thiago, who came with the lesson learned from Barça, is one of the references of this style of play of the national team.
TA: The position I occupy here on the field is a position that I like a lot, because I can see everything and I know that I have a vital person for this team behind me, Javi. He’s very important when it comes to recovering the ball and starting plays. For me, Javi is the most fundamental player on this team.
JM: It’s true that here we play with more control over the ball than with my club, and this could have created problems because we weren’t accustomed to it, but we’ve played like this for a long time, both on the senior team and on the U-21, and you get used to it. And this change that could have been difficult becomes easy, and vice versa. It’s not only me, we’ve all adapted well to this style of play.
TA: You always know you can pass the ball to Javi. We’re all lovers of football and we have the same idea, which is this style of play with the toques to achieve our objective, the title.
In the qualifying of the ¡oooh! in Denmark, Thiago’s technical exhibitions were venerated by the public. However, there are those who believe that in many moments of the game, he tries to show off.
JM: Especially when he gives you a pass with the outside of his foot (laughs). But I suppose people say that because he’s very good. When I see that he’s going to give me that kind of pass, I tremble.
TA: The problem is that I don’t have a left leg. I was prohibited from passing it with the left and so I had to pass it with the outside of the right, and sometimes things happen.
JM: Against England, you passed it and…
TA: Well, there were two times, but I already told you that this happens because I’m not allowed to give it with my left foot. The way I play, however, is not flashy. It’s something innate, and never to look down on a rival or to show off. It’s something innate, something that I believe comes out on its own.
JM: My position isn’t anything new either. I’ve played there for a while with the national team. Perhaps I play more forward in Athletic, but with both the U-21 team and the senior team, I’ve always played here and it’s been many games and many training sessions, so you know the role you have to play. I’m used to it, after so much time.
Spain’s midfield is a well-oiled machine, but doesn’t the team lack a bit of goal-scoring?
JM: Well, Ander Herrera scored against England.
TA: Yes, in that manner. He really shot it badly… (laughs). I already told you, “come on Javi, you score it.”
[Some boring-ish football talk, and then the interviewer asks about all the fouls they received, especially in the game against the Czech Republic.]
JM: The proof is the quantity of fouls that the Czechs committed against us. One of the things they tried to do from the outset was that, to break our rhythm with fouls, and the referee allowed them and even carded us for protesting. But you had to say something.
TA: It’s that you’re a phenomenon when you speak in English…
JM: I told him that they weren’t allowing us to play, that they were continuously committing fouls. I think they committed 19 against us in the first half.
TA: An atrocity!
JM: That piece of datum shows how important it is to have the ball.
You’re teammates and friends on the national team, but you haven’t been rivals in the Liga yet, have you?
JM: We played against each other once in San Mamés. But Thiago came in as a sub and played during the last 10 minutes. We were playing with one less player and I didn’t even get to see the ball. I didn’t even know where it was. How was I going to see him?
TA: I’ve been on the bench other times, just watching, without playing.
JM: The field was muddy, do you remember?
TA: Yes, and el Guaje was sent off.
JM: And Amorebieta, for fouling Iniesta.