Raúl Albiol (Villamarchante, 1985) is the head of Villarreal’s defense, per gallons and experience. The central prepares for the great battle. Do not hesitate. Opposite, the fittest team in Europe awaits. Without fear, he wants to continue nurturing the Submarine’s dream.
How are you and how do you face this new challenge?
I’m happy with how the season is going and with the idea of being able to take Villarreal to the Champions League final, it’s a challenge that motivates a lot, and we’re all on that idea right now.
Right now you may be one of the most loved members of the team. Do you have that feeling?
I feel loved, very loved by the people of Villarreal. From the day I arrived I have noticed that affection, both from the club, from my teammates, and from the fans. It is something that makes me happy, and for this reason, my idea is to return that affection that I am receiving. The truth is that I feel indebted to Villarreal and its people. I have the feeling that even giving it my all will never return what I have been given here. My goal is to be able to give everything to the maximum in each game and in the years that I have left, my goal is to retire with the feeling that I have given everything for this club.
Go Champions are marking. How do you rate what has been done so far?
I am proud of my teammates, of the people who work for the club and of the entire club, since seeing the effort that everyone makes is incredible. This team is achieving these things through effort and conviction; It is not that we are a club that can have player signings of 100 million, which are the ones that make the difference in these competitions, ours is something collective and a lot of work, many hours. These Champions victories are a prize for all
And personally, it is being one of the most outstanding. What sensations do you have?
I like to talk about myself, but I don’t think that’s the case. These things that I have achieved in these games is thanks to my teammates, I am one of them. This is everyone’s job, complete defense, without your teammates you are nothing. I do not like that of saying that I have stopped such and such, since it is not true. It’s everyone’s job, it’s not a one-on-one 90-minute me and him. The strength is that we are a group in which we all support each other, that is what gives us strength for these challenges.
What is the secret of this team to be so competitive at this point?
I think that what we are achieving is thanks to what we did last season in the Europa League, what we achieved last season is the basis of what we are doing now. The Europa League is more complicated than people think, we have seen it in cases like Barcelona or Seville. Those qualifiers were complicated and having passed them has made us ready for this challenge. What happened last season prepared us for this and these games, so the team is ready to face it. This is the highest level.
The truth is that they seem very confident and convinced of their possibilities and their way of doing…
We work very well in the games, we are very clear about what we want in each game and that is very important. In addition, the team is very emotionally stable, that is one of the keys. We work a lot, but the key is that he has a very cool head in all the qualifiers. We’ve had good and bad times, but the key is to have been cool-headed and united at times when the knockout rounds could have escaped. Being strong in difficulty is what has led us to be here.
Could that strength and conviction of the team be the key to everything?
Juve’s goal at the start and Bayern’s goal there are two moments in which, if we weren’t mentally strong as we are, the qualifiers would have escaped us. In those moments the team showed that despite receiving a blow they remain standing and united, and that is essential in the Champions League. We have seen better teams that are out for twenty bad minutes. At this level you can’t even have five bad minutes.
And now Liverpool…
“The basis of all this is the Europa League that we won”
Yes, now comes Liverpool, a rival that we know will make us have bad times many times, since it is a team that is in its best form right now. For me he is the strongest rival left in the competition. A rival with whom he is going to have to suffer many times, much more at home. They are a team that submits you a lot and more in their stadium with their fans, they play with a lot of intensity and we know that at times it will be very complicated for us. Therefore, we know that it will be tough and a long tie, in which we hope to maintain that strength.
He said that they are the strongest team of all…
They are the fittest team in Europe for me, they are showing it in their country where they can win almost anything, and in Europe. They are showing that they are the Liverpool that won the last Champions League, it is a team of maximum intensity and maximum level. We play against a team that is no longer higher, so we are going to see what we are capable of competing with that team that is the highest elite in football.
I think there is no higher level than this, maybe the same, but there is no higher level than this Liverpool. If we pass this round, we have already passed a team that has no one above it.
What about your line of attack?
They have six forwards who could start all six without problems. They also have great players in all lines, a team that has great stars. It is a historic club and as such we know what it is and what it means.
And of a field like Anfield?
Anfield is something impressive, you are in that tunnel about to leave and you see that atmosphere generated by its fans, it is something incredible. If you add to that the fact that the Champions League anthem is going to play this day, it makes it even more special. It is the “premium” pack of football, which makes everything spectacular. What a player wants is to experience that, to be there and be able to experience that atmosphere, they are memories that remain forever.
“What is making us happier is seeing how the fans enjoy”
What does all this and a semifinal mean?
For us, what is making us the happiest is seeing how people are enjoying it. Seeing how they are living it and how they enjoy it when the game ends is the most beautiful thing. Being able to dedicate this to them and seeing them happy is what fills us the most. We want to reach the final for the club, but above all for the people. They are the big part of this, they are the ones that sustain this. And seeing them so excited motivates us even more.
And for Raúl Albiol?
What motivates me the most is to return that love, as it has been so much, I always think that what I am giving is not enough. Therefore, I am proud to be able to give them these joys and to be able to see how they enjoy it. It’s what makes me happiest really. I had a difficult moment at the start and I would like to give them the joy of living that Champions League final.