Valencia CF09 February 2024

BARAJA: "For, every game is an ambition, a challenge and a response for us to grow in"

The coach analyses the LaLiga fixture on the road

Valencia CF coach Rúben Baraja talked to the media in a pre-match press conference before the game against UD Las Palmas, which takes place in the Canary Islands on Saturday night.

The kind of game he expects

They are a team who are very strong at home. They have conceded few goals and when if they made it tough for us when they came here, then they have evolved for the better since then. Not only do they have the ball and use it well, they draw you on, forces you to play through the press, move quickly, and on the outside they have speed and definition. Obviously, they are a team in form. What they are doing is commendable, they are recently promoted side and a team that I like, they have some important work behind them. Their team believe in the coach and the results are very good. For us, every game is an ambition, a challenge and a response for us to grow in.”

Not looking for a replacement after the departure of Paulista

It was a last-minute situation, and the options presented to us were not optimal. It is a situation that could help us and was valued without further ado. You want one thing and then it doesn't come to fruition, but I think things were discussed, talked over and the decision was really made to try to get Rafa Mir to come in -but in the end it wasn't to be."

André Almeida's fitness

"It is good news that he can do things again. He is in the process of growing after a long injury; he has been out for almost four months and it is going to be difficult for him to get back on the pace, but we are happy to see him smile again. We are not going to set a return date, for him, and how he feels will dictate his return. There is a certain privacy that has to be valued in these types of situations. We always try to explain things as much as possible. Things are evaluated, and sometimes it is not A or B or C, there are doubts in the diagnosis. With Diego López, we all know that his cheekbone has been broken and that we have to do this and that. Other injuries have different ways of being treated, or one injury causes another... it is never about wanting to hide anything. You have to inform people about the injuries and take responsibility for explaining things."

Canós and Diakhaby's availability

"Canós will be there. He has recovered well and he is at the point where he can participate, just not for a full match. He feels good and is going to be in. Diakhaby is a little tired from travelling; he is up to match fitness, but he's a little tired. He's also going to come along and we'll give him a rest when we can."

Perhaps fielding Federico as Diego López' replacement

"With Diego López, the big thing is after the operation, knowing when he will be able to move around. The doctor thinks that there are minimum timeframes required for the fracture, and from there it depends on how he feels... He is a gladiator and I'm sure that he will return sooner than we expect. The exact deadlines aren't known. It could be two weeks, three, four... Peter is prepared, he is in the squad and he is in good shape. He has adapted well to the group and at any time he can come in and contribute."

Javi Guerra's position

Javi has the characteristics to play on the wing. He can take players on, play the final pass... from the left he can still do things, like generate superiority inside and go back and forth ... The feeling I have is that he is a bit like Carlos Soler, who would be a good example. It is a possibility that he can also play inside in a 4-4-2, as he did before Guillamón came in. He gives us good football and is in a dynamic in which he is learning. This is positive for him, he is becoming a complete player by understanding the game in different positions. Peter Federico can play on any wing, he has good feet, he is good technically, with a good shot... he can give us alternatives."

Taking care of mental health

“We give it a lot of importance. Last year, introducing an outsider (as a psychologist)from the beginning was not positive, but this year it is. Having a person with us on a daily basis, who knows the players, who they feel they can talk to, helps them focus on the task, grow... The young players are exposed to many distractions. This work is moving forward, and I feel bad that you only talk about it now when it is going well, because before we also did it, but it is focused on that. They are young players and they have to mature quickly."

How he has changed in a year

"I don't know, physically I don't know. Maybe I have more grey hair (laughs). There is a difference when you take a team on the fly, in difficulty, and are trying to adapt quickly, compared to when you can work from scratch from preseason. You can assimilate concepts, you have more time to work... We've been on this for seven or eight months and we're still repeating things we did in preseason. Football is about persistence, making concepts stick... Last season we had to get results in the best possible way, almost without time to work. The team are now in a stage of absolute growth and we have very positive feedback from the players. They give you answers according to their style of play, decision making... the team are convinced and believe in what we do. They maintain that competitive tension in every game."

A possible contract renewal

"A more comfortable situation is that you ask me about Las Palmas. You have assumptions, I focus on tomorrow's game. There will be time for these evaluations. The most important thing is to focus on Las Palmas. I am not going to go into this because it is a situation that is based on assumptions and evaluations. I prefer to focus on what is important to me: the competition and tomorrow's game. There will be time for the rest later.”

Being able to finish the matchday in sixth place

"Our approach is different. We do not consider the consequences above looking at what is going to happen in the game. We focus on what we can do in the game, how to do it and try to do it as best as possible. If we manage to win, it will lead to moving up places in the standings. When we talk about the next game, we are focused on how to be competitive against the opposition. When you think about the "what ifs," you are deviating from what is important, which is what you can do in every game."

A possible European objective

My objective is to achieve the sporting goal, and there is a lot of work ahead. I could come here to tell you all kinds of stories, but the objectives must be achieved on the pitch. We all want to see Valencia CF as high up as possible, but all this takes time, it’s a process... we cannot generate absurd tensions when we all know where we are coming from. I haven't forgotten that."

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