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18.12.2008 09:55

Márquez: “I am enjoying the way the team is playing”

Laura Aparicio/David Puig

Rafa Márquez has celebrated his 200th official game for Barça with the team in splendid form. In an interview with Barça TV and www.fcbarcelona.cat, Márquez recognised that it would be unlikely for Barça not to win something this year.

The Kaiser of Mixoacán has good reason to feel happy. He has played his 200th game for Barcelona against Real Madrid and team is doing brilliantly, top of the league with stunning statistics. All in all, Márquez is highly optimistic about the immediate future, but is aware of the need not to start getting over-confident.

When you signed for Barça in 2003, did you think you would go on to make 200 appearances?

17-12-08_WEB_MARQUEZ_04.jpgI don’t know. I’m one of those who just enjoys the moment, the present, and perhaps I don’t think much about the future, but I have to say that holding down a first team place in such an important team for so long has not been easy, it’s been a lot of work. If I have come this far, it’s because of the confidence the managers have shown in me, both Frank Rijkaard before and Pep Guardiola now, and also the directors and the fans who have always supported me.

If you had to make a balance of what you have given to the club and what Barça has given to you over the years, what would weigh the most?

I think that altogether, Barça has given me many more things but perhaps I have also given a lot to the club. I don’t think it’s a matter of who gives more or less, but what we do together, and for us both to be happy.

After 200 official games with the first team, you have good and bad experiences …

Yes, of course. I think I have good moments and bad moments, this latest phase we’re having is magnificent, I wish there were more moments like this instead of bad ones. As a great experience I’d have to go for the Champions League. It was the biggest thing I have achieved with Barça and I will always remember it.

You are one of the veterans in the squad, and one of the ones who has been in the first team the longest. Do you feel like a leader, an important player?

Yes, I have been here for several seasons and the truth is that the team and the coach have made me feel important and that gives me confidence and of course more responsibility to make sure I do my job well.

Thanks to Márquez, is there more support for Barça in Mexico?

BF1F2671.JPGI think so. A lot of people follow me in Mexico and there are people who might have supported somebody else before and now follow Barça. But I think that is also because Barça is a great club and has achieved important things.

You have had two hard years with the team, winning no titles. Now the dynamic seems to have changed and the good results and good football have returned.

Yes, I think that starting a new phase with a new manager has turned over a new leaf and the whole team has resurged. We are also ambitious to win and that’s important because for two seasons we weren’t good and let important things go by.

Guardiola has always supported and confided in you. Are you grateful for that?

Of course, he has trusted me from the start. We had a chat at the end of last season when he became the coach and it was nice because he gave me a lot of confidence and I’m grateful for what he did. Now I have to repay him for the trust by playing well for the team.

Guardiola has changed some habits and routines such as not staying in a hotel before ten o’clock fixtures. Is the team grateful?

It really is better for us. Spending so many hours in a hotel is a real drag and being with the family and getting some rest gives you more confidence and motivation and even more responsibility. The team has taken the idea on well and that is reflected on the pitch.

This season, the results are coming. The team is top of the League and into the second round of the Champions League. There is excitement in the air …

You have to take things bit by bit, game by game, which is what we are doing. I think we have to stay humble and work with the sacrifice we are putting into games, and in the end we’ll be rewarded for that. But it is important to stay calm, that’s essential right now.

Do past experiences affect you?

We have to be prudent because we cannot start believing we have won anything yet, because anything can happen in the end, but let’s hope not. But the way things are going, game by game, things are going well.

The team seems to be enjoying itself and providing enjoyment with its football.

Yes. We enjoy all the games, the results, the type of football we are playing, but then we need to be calm and collected in order to keep working with the same level of concentration. That is basic in ensuring things stay on the right path.

Barça have scored more goals than anyone in Europe, and also let in the least. Is the team solid at the back?

17-12-08_WEB_MARQUEZ_01.jpgWe are all working hard, from the strikers to the goalkeeper. We are working very hard in defence, helping each other, there’s a lot of support. All that means we don’t let in many goals. It also helps to have a good goalkeeper like. Valdés, that’s essential.

This year you have scored a lot of goals from set pieces. You have scored two goals yourself from corners.

Yes, because those actions are important to us. Strategy is always important as it brings wins, important points. We work on them before games and this is an area on which Guardiola puts a lot of emphasis on in order to get results.

We are seeing the best of Rafa Márquez. We can see you are enjoying playing again.

Yes. For the last two seasons perhaps I was not at my best but now I am lucky enough to be injury-free, I have no problems, and I’ll try to stay that way and at this level. I am helping the team and enjoying the football we’re playing. I think if it all stays that way, it’s unlikely that we won’t win any titles this season.
Márquez: “I am enjoying the way the team is playing”

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Villarreal, last game before Christmas
On Sunday, Barça visit El Madrigal in the last game before the Christmas break, and asked about that match Márquez said “I think Villarreal will be a very difficult opponent and they’re at home. Their team is playing good football though they haven’t been at their best recently, but we know that they’ll be extra motivated against big teams, and that’s what it’ll be like when they face Barça”.

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