19 Feb 2018
I’m writing this with my mind in Seville where, as you all know, this Wednesday we play a very important game. Yes, I know many of you want me to talk about the VAR, it’s just a few lines below ;-)… The Champions League is back and there’s a special atmosphere around here because all of us are really looking forward to having a good performance in this great tournament. I’m especially excited about playing in my country again, at the Sanchez Pizjuan, a major stadium where the local team always gets big support. I hope that we can see a great football game, and that we get a good score for the second leg at Old Trafford, in front of our crowd.
Winning our game against Huddersfield and making it to the last eight of the FA Cup gave us confidence. Despite the local team put pressure on us (a lot, actually), especially in the first half, we were able to take our chances to move one step forward in this nice competition. Brighton will be our opponent in the quarter-finals, at Old Trafford. A lot has been said about the goal that I scored and was disallowed by the VAR. It was my first time, a new experience for me (and for almost all of us, actually). The truth is, once you have celebrated the goal you are surprised and disappointed (as you could see on my face), but this time, luckily, that goal was not needed to win… As I said in a few interviews after the game, even if this time it didn’t play in our favour, I think in the future the VAR will be helpful for the referees, who always have a difficult job, and eventually it will bring more justice to football… Given that an unfair call or a wrong one might have significant consequences (sending a team to relegation, having a manager sacked, etc.), I understand that we must try to make the final result as fair as possible, and that’s where I think that a proper use of the VAR can be really helpful. Technology can help football to be more fair, especially nowadays when it seems that the result is the only thing that matters (we could write a whole book on this subject :-)). I believe, though, that such technology should be restricted to a few particular actions that are crucial in the game (in order to avoid too many interruptions), and especially that the final decision should take less time and be more clear than last Saturday’s…
Your face when you meet Mr. VAR for the first time in your career 😂😏 pic.twitter.com/Iv2ilJkrtH
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) 17 de febrero de 2018
This week is a very important one, because after Sevilla we will be facing Chelsea. It’s a big game for many reasons and very special for me. It will always be. It’s one of the most difficult games of the season and a good opportunity to bring joy to our fans, although right now, I insist, we are absolutely focused on the Champions League against Sevilla.
They were, by the way, one of the teams in the top side of la Liga’s table that won this weekend. Actually, all of them did: Barcelona, Atletico, Valencia and Real Madrid too. The championship is very much alive and the fight for the European spots is going to be quite nice until the end.
It was also very nice to see two Spaniards winning medals in the Winter Olympics, in Pyeongchang. Every competitor there has a story with plenty of work behind that deserves to be recognised, but in particular I would like to congratulate Javier Fernandez and Regino Hernandez because in my country we don’t have a big tradition in this kind of sports. Their medals come as a reward to many years of fight and courage to shine in other disciplines that are less popular. So my sincere congratulations to them.
I’m signing off now. Have a nice week.