Eric Abidal is in his fourth season with the club, and is in the prime of his form, even scoring his first goal. Below is the interview he granted ‘Sport.es’ two days ago.
Can the team keep up the momentum of the first round?
We have to if we want to win titles.
What team surprises you the most this season?
Barca! With each season we seem to play a lot better and it is not easy [to achieve].
In the case of the Barcelona, is that a given fact?
Yes, with each season we continue to grow. Is there any other way for us to go?
It seems there are a lot of differences between the ‘hypothetical’ regular team and the substitutes.
For me, I don’t like the word ‘regular’. I prefer to think of the group as a whole. Sure there are players that play more than others, but titles are won by everyone.
Guardiola’s philosophy in its purest form…
This is what gives us the strength to play well and enjoy ourselves. The crowd notices this and helps us.
The only three goals that you have scored have been in Cup competitions – two in France and one in Spain, is this your kind of competition?
The chances came in the Cups. The best is the one against Bilbao for it was a crucial goal, and that gives me more joy.
Before the goal, you were already showing a lot more offensive tendencies…
I tend to have a defensive mentality as I have done in all the teams that I have played in, but I’ve always wanted to score a goal. Looking at the support of my fans on Facebook, I decided to change tack and push forward more, but it is not always possible to score any.
Are you saying that developing offensive instinct is due to a social network website?
No, not only that. In Barca, the right wing is used a lot by Alves and Leo. While on the left, when Villa or Andres play, they prefer to take on defenders one on one. But if I have the legs and desire, I don’t mind going up and down constantly. Everyone was wondering when will Abidal score, and now, no one can say that again.
The day after you were on the cover of several papers…
And I scored another in the following match! But ruled out for offside… just, by only 20 cm… (laughing).
Will the next one be taking a penalty?
No, those goals do not count. They are for the forwards to take, in order to be a Pichichi at the end of season. In trainings, for example, we have a few penalty practice sessions and I never do it.
Did your phone keep ringing the day after Bilbao?
Pff… especially that of my wife, because I personally don’t like to talk on the phone. If you have a habit of talking on it a lot, you won’t have time to talk in person.
That goal must have given you more confidence?
As we enter the dressing room, the boss said to me “you are liberated of something” and I answered “of course… the tie [quarter-final]”. If I’m in form it is thanks to what the team is doing at the moment. When things don’t go our way, the confidence disappears.
Which of the compliments are you excited about?
Abidal for Pichichi and Ballon d’Or (laughing).
Are you in the best moment of your career?
It should be for others to say. It is always better to think that the best is yet to come.
Can you feel the affection people and your teammates have for you…
Well, I’m not a complicated person to live with. When I leave here, I go home, when I arrive at home, I say nothing because with four women at home… I get along well with everyone and I am always available when someone wants to open up.
What do you think of the stories being stirred up by some to divide the dressing room?
We are still the same. They want to destroy the group but we are a lot smarter than that.
Are you surprised by the internal crisis happening in Madrid?
I don’t want to say anything about them because it does not concern me.
Your friend Benzema’s prospect isn’t very good…
He hasn’t said anything to me about that. We only talk about our families.
You returned to the national team last November after what happened during the World Cup. How was it?
Well, we played against England in Wembley and in the ticketing window I left a note saying I will be back to play in the final of the Champions League [28 May 2011]. I was very pleased to be back.
And Laurent Blanc?
Very good, very professional and it shows on the pitch.
You’ve been with Barcelona for four years, when can we have Eric Abidal’s press conference in Catalan?
I can do it, but people will laugh a lot.
Will you promise with ‘Sport.es’ to do a film wheelie after your contract renewal?
Yes… or at least I will try.