It has become in its own right the Wildcard of Imanol Alguacil. Pivot by nature, is already part of the central payroll of the first team of Real Sociedad, although he admits that nobody has told him that he is already a defender instead of a midfielder. We chatted with the Azkoitiarra a few days after another peak moment in this long season of Txuri-Urdin.
State of the Real movie this season, tell me …
The team I think is very good. So far we were good, because although we had a bad run of results, but in terms of the game from the beginning we have played a great game. What we lacked lately was to finish the game being many times superior to the rival. The victory against Cádiz has freed us up a bit, and now I think we will return to good results.
Have you not been afraid that you would be demoralized by not getting the victories deserving to win?
It is clear that when you feel superior to the rival and do not get the results, in the end you get frustrated. But during the week I didn’t see anyone crestfallen, on the contrary, we trained very well and that was reflected in the games. But the victory against Cádiz has relieved us a bit, and to continue.
The feeling from the outside is that they have returned to cruising speed …
I do not know. What I do know is that we have never lost confidence. And the result of the other day confirms it and has given us a plus. But we have been mentalizing all year to play against the big teams in big games.
Don’t you think it’s unfair to have to play in Turin at home against Manchester United and then that the second leg is played at Old Trafford?
It is clear that we would all like to play at the Reale Arena, because we know the dimensions and it is our home. But there are also no excuses for this to happen. If we lose it won’t be because of this either, it will be because they have been better, and that’s it. We do not give it more laps.
We now practically refer to you as a center and not as a pivot. Are you surprised?
No, it goes. Last year I already played quite a few games in that position. And this year I have played everything there, and every day I feel better and more comfortable, and I have already studied and learned all the automatisms and everything flows to help my teammates.
And doesn’t this change of position make you a bit dizzy? There was a game that started as a pivot, went to center and ended as a side …
In the end it is Imanol who knows where to put me. and I am always ready to help the team and if I have to play as a winger, then here I go. But I don’t think that has penalized me or lowered the level.
What does it tell you that the club has not signed a center-back, hiding the fact that you perform well in that position?
He tells me that there is confidence in what I can offer there, and that’s it. Imanol has already spoken to me and told me that he sees me very well in that position, and that also helps, because I feel the coach’s confidence too. I feel good and want to improve.
The club already refers to Zubeldia as a center-back. Have you already been clearly told that in this squad you are a central and not a pivot?
Definitely, nobody has told me anything about being just a center-back, but they have told me to play pivot or center-back. So I am prepared to play both positions.
Have you sometimes felt more exposed or singled out for playing center-back as a pivot?
Not at all. In the end, those of us who play there already know what there, we are the ones who appear in the photo, we have assumed it and it does not affect me.
In this Real, playing central is more risky?
It is not easy. But we are prepared. Playing central in this Real requires many things, you have to intercept what the rival does, you have the free man, you must go out with the ball played and it is a risk. But we train in small fields to close all that, and then in the field it shows.
They travel to Getafe, which is in the spotlight because of Djené’s entrance to Ocampos … Do you think that the aggressive and intense style of the Bordalás team is exaggerated?
I have not followed much everything that has been said. Getafe is a team that is always strong and aggressive, and we have to be prepared because it will be a very difficult and tough game. And now I’m sure they will be more eager after everything that has been mounted, so we have to be at 200% to beat them.
Is it difficult to focus on the game of the week when you have such attractive challenges on the horizon as the tie against Manchester or the Cup final?
Not at all. Yes it is true that you remember those games. Now we are only concerned about Getafe’s patido and then we will worry about what the tie against Manchester is going to give.
Are you more afraid of the Cup final now seeing how well Athletic is doing with the arrival of Marcelino?
Okay (smile), this Real does not care what the rival does either, but what this team does on the field, so if we manage to give our best version, we will be much closer to the goal.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.