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19.11.2007 11:37

“We have to be mentally prepared”

Jaume Marcet

Deco, who is nearing the end of his recovery from injury, has joined the call to improve the team’s results away from home. He told us: “We have to be aware that if we want to win the league we have to pick up points away from home”.

Deco has missed the last seven matches due to a muscle problem in his left leg that he picked up on 20th October, just when he was playing some of his best football of the season. Since then he’s been training hard to get back to full fitness. In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.com he reveals his progress and discusses the current situation of the team.

How’s the injury?

"I’m in the training phase with the fitness coach. I’m doing some gym work and some field work. I’m at the end of the recovery process".

It’s almost a month since you got injured in Villarreal. Were you in your best form since you joined Barça?

"The truth is I’d had a good preseason. I was playing well and I was feeling fit. Now I need to recover and try and reach a good level".

Do you think it’s going to be difficult to regain that level or is it the kind of injury that is easily overcome?

"It’s not a simple injury but we’re working well to recover and not have any more problems. Then it’ll be necessary to train hard to get fit again".

At times like these does your character change or does your experience tell you how to behave in these cases?

qm3d7234.jpg"No matter how much experience I’ve got and although I know how things are, one’s hopes are always complicated. When you’re competing, when there are matches, when there are other players in the team that are injured, it’s always complicated. All that experience gives you is a little more patience. But footballers always want to play".

I suppose you miss the training sessions but do you feel even more frustrated when it’s a matchday and you want to be out there on the pitch?

"Matchdays are when you suffer most because you feel you can’t do anything".

What are you like when you watch a match on the TV?

"Like most people I say my opinions. When I see the match in Brazil, I can express myself a little more because I’m at home but when I’m in the stadium it’s more complicated. I’m relaxed when we win but I get nervous when we lose".

How has the team looked to you over the last month?

"Our big problem is away matches. We have to realise that teams play another way. They’re more aggressive and don’t respect you so much. On the other hand, when they come to the Camp Nou they’re not like that. When they play at home they’re not afraid to attack, they’re more comfortable and so we have to be much more prepared for these matches".

What has to be done to impose this respect away from home?

"You need to work harder than them. We have to be mentally prepared in order to know what we will find".

Normally, when things don’t work, the players that aren’t available are the best. There are even some people that are saying that the team lacks aggression without Deco and Eto'o. Is that the way you see it?

web_05.jpg"When the team loses, you always look for answers. People talk about the important players and about those who are missing. It’s normal but I don’t think it should be that way. We have a great squad and great players. I’ve always said that I miss the injured players because it leaves the coach with fewer options. But I don’t think the problem lies here. We have very good people".

Are you surprised that Rijkaard has been criticised and that the media are focussing on him?

"I believe it’s a problem but it’s normal in today’s football, because of the size of the Club and the intensity surrounding it. When we have two or three good performances, people speak well of us – sometimes too much – and when we lose it’s a crisis and the coach and some of the players are criticised. We don’t experience it that way because it would be very complicated. We know what we’re looking for and we’re trying to work on it. But criticism is normal and above all, when the coach has been here for so long".

One of the victims of this exaggeration, both positive and negative, is Ronaldinho. He scores two goals at home and it seems that he’s as good as new but the following day they lose away to Getafe and he has to sit on the subs’ bench. Can a player isolate himself from this atmosphere?

"It’s difficult. But on a personal level I can tell you that I don’t experience it this way. We know that the press does this. One day you’re number one and the next you’re in poor form. That’s the way it is but we have to get used to it".

You use far fewer clichés than most players and you like to talk about football. Don’t you find that people increasingly talk about what surrounds football and that there’s less analysis of the game itself?

deco-fcb-saragossa.jpg"I’m a professional footballer not a journalist. The truth is that nowadays a lot of programmes are made where they discuss football, but they don’t really talk about football – the goals, the moves, the players. There are topics I don’t know why they are discussed or what’s interesting about them".

Do the think the team can repeat the successes of two years ago?

"We’re fine at home but we have to change a few things away from home. We have to be aware that if we want to win the league we have to pick up points away from home".
“We have to be mentally prepared”

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About Tiago
I suppose you see yourself playing football for many years to come but you’ve probably thought what kind of player might replace you. There’s a youngster of Brazilian background in the Barça youth squad, Tiago Alcántara, son of Masinho, who at the age of 16 has already trained with the senior squad and played in the Copa Catalunya. Tiago has similarities with you – very skilful, very aggressive and with a lot of character. Do you think Tiago might be the new Deco one day?

"I think so. He’s got a lot of quality and despite being very young he’s got a lot of personality and character. His father was a great player. I loved him. As a boy I used to see him play with Brazil and with Celta. Tiago has the blood of a great player. I think he has what it takes to succeed. Luckily for me he’s very young and so I’ll be able to play for a few more years..."

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