Mundo Deportivo recently talked with Thiago Alcántara in an interview posted on their website on Sunday. Ironically, his interview appeared on the same day that the Catalan paper had the midfielder in a Milan shirt on their cover, with a hint that Barça could use him to bring Thiago Silva to the Catalan team. This move, in my opinion, would hurt the team as much as the aborted Xavi departure would have, also to Milan, almost 10 years ago. Let’s hope that, as in that case, it doesn’t happen.
Contradictions aside, it is clear for most culés that Thiago has shown a lot of football in his first year as a Barça player, reminding us of both Xavi and Iniesta when they were starting out in the first team. But, as it was for them, it won’t be easy for Thiago to gain a permanent starting spot in this Barça team. Fortunately, his initiation has been under Pep’s orders, which have turned the talented midfielder into a very complete player. Below is a translation of the interview, the original can be found here.
What is your take on your first season as a Barça first team player (with one title to play for yet)?
As a team we have tried to get all the trophies we were competing for, but unfortunately we couldn’t win them all. But we got the first three, and were fighting for the other two right until the end. And we are still in the running for the Copa del Rey, so I think it was a good season overall.
And at a personal level?
I started the season after playing the U-21 Eurocup and then we had our preseason, so both things ended up costing me a bit. But I think it has been a very good season, as I have played more minutes than I expected. I hope I can play even more next season.
What was the hardest moment of the season?
It came the week we lost La Liga and the Champions League semifinal. We lost both in three days, after a whole season of sacrifice and hard work to get both titles. But losing the Champions League semifinals was even harder than losing La Liga, as we were running from behind there, so we always knew it would have been too difficult to win it. However, in the Champions League, we were having a great run, but we weren’t lucky enough in the last two games.
Do you think football took away from you what it gave you in Stamford Bridge some years ago?
I don’t think so. I think that football is the only sport where you can win even [after] playing really badly, and I do not say that because I think Chelsea played badly. But it’s a fact that playing better than the rival does not always assure you a victory.
Did Madrid deserve to win La Liga?
They had a great season. They were more consistent than us. We knew about their strength, so now we congratulate them as they have had a better season than us.
It must be hard to know the team scored 114 goals and 91 points in La Liga, and did not win it…
Yes, it is, but we also had many chances to score that we lost. I was asked about referees, but I think we have to look inside the team and ask ourselves the reason we have failed [with] those chances. We cannot forget this season, but take the best out of it and learn from the bad things.
Do you think you needed to try and shoot more from distance?
Sometimes we think so, however I do believe that wasn’t the problem this season. We just scored less than previous seasons. The balls that went into goal in past seasons were not getting there this season, and that’s it.
We saw you more active coming to attack from midfield… was the team trying to create more scoring chances, but from midfield?
We believe midfield gives us another option to try and get some goals. If we came from the second line (trying to score), we relieve some pressure from the forwards, that is what we have tried to do.
What did you like the most from your first year as a professional player? And what did you not like?
I have enjoyed everything. I have been one more in the dressing room from the first moment, I have been involved in the team and decisive moments… and you don’t know how great the people are (his team mates). We are all very close. On a bad note, I was pissed off about false comments in the press about us and that the lineup against Madrid was leaked as gossip just before the game. I think some things we talk about in the dressing room must stay there.
How did you recover from those blows of Abidal and Tito’s diseases?
They helped us to deal with it, giving the example. They showed us how strong they were, as well as their families, and that inspired us. Seeing them fight has made us more united as a group. They have taught us a huge life lesson this season.
How did you take Pep’s announcement of not staying next season?
I think none of us saw this coming or if someone did, nobody wanted it to be true. The truth is that I was not prepared for this. Pep has given everything to Barça and has taken this team to the highest possible in football. His legacy will last for a long time, both for football and in his confidence in us, the canteranos.
Pep will leave and Tito will replace him. What do you think Tito can bring to this team?
I think Tito can give us what we had this season, and also take us to the next level, which he has done these years alongside Pep. He has also been responsible for all the titles and success. We are very confident on this.
What would you say is one of Tito’s distinctive qualities?
Tito is crazy about football, just like Pep or Xavi are. He knows a lot about football, especially about tactics. He makes our job easier. He is always calming us down before every game, giving us confidence, he is always talking to us, he knows how to motivate us.
So, there is no fear from Pep’s departure?
They (Tito and Pep) are very different from each other. Tito has also given us a lot of knowledge and confidence through these years. So I think we are right to be confident about the future and to see what happens next season.
Image Credit: Miguel Ruiz (FCB) and MD