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Excited, but also focused

20 Feb 2017

Hi everyone,

I’ve just arrived home after the game in Blackburn, where we have reached the FA Cup quarter-finals. It was a tricky game, as we expected, in a good stadium against a good opponent, but thanks to those two nice goals from Marcus and Zlatan we have made it to the next round of this competition where we are the defending champions. We were just leaving Ewood Park when we knew through the social networks our rival in the last eight: Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. Needless to say, it’s going to be another special game for me… This is without a doubt one of the most complicated ties we could have, but we will go there with the big motivation of earning a ticket to Wembley and forget the bad taste of our last visit to Stamford Bridge. But before that, we have very important games to play…

I won’t lie to you: this week we are all very excited about the first final of the season. I’m talking about the EFL Cup final that we will play next Sunday at Wembley against Southampton. In our last two visits to this special stadium we won two titles! But it’s also true that the next game is always the most important one, we know that, and in our case we have to remain focused on Saint-Etienne and the Europa League. We did a great job last week with the 3-0 win, but they proved to be a better team than what the score might say. It would be a big mistake for us to take things for granted. When you take things seriously and fight in all competitions you need to multiply your efforts, be smart and avoid getting distracted. The team is showing that and we want to keep the same way. We are entering the decisive part of the season and we are still fighting to win some of the trophies. As you become a more experienced player you realise that you must think about the next game only, otherwise it would be a mistake. We’re sure of that.

Besides, I’ve never been to the Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint-Etienne’s stadium, so I hope to add it to my ‘MataMundi’ and keep good memories of it. I hope this first visit can give us a spot in the next round. On the TV it looks like a nice ground, and you know that I like to know new places thanks to football.

In Spain, the top teams won their games this weekend. Leganes had a great performance at the Camp Nou even if they didn’t get any points. Villarreal beat Real Sociedad in a game between the two teams of the top side of the table that are playing better football right now. Despite the defeat, Real Sociedad deserve credit for the great season they’re having. And good news for Real Oviedo in the Second Division: the team keeps the good streak with a very important win against Getafe in the last few minutes. I was told that there was a great atmosphere in the Carlos Tartiere, I hope it lasts until the end of the season and the team can get the promotion!

Beyond football, this weekend we have enjoyed the All-Star Game in the NBA and also Spain’s Basketball Cup, a very nice competition to watch. Congratulations to Real Madrid for the title. The MVP was for a Spanish player, magic Sergio Llull, whose long-range buzzer-beaters are insane and win lots of games. As for the slam-dunk contest, it amazes me year after year. Robinson III and Derrick Jones Jr. showed incredible, unreal abilities. Don’t forget that, apart from talent, there’s plenty of hard work behind the scenes.

I’m leaving you now. I hope to tell you very good news next Monday. I hope we can make it to the next round in the Europa League, and celebrate our second title of the season.

Hugs,

Juan Mata

Juan