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Football is a joy

Hi everyone,

In this moment, when I’m writing to you, I’m about to finish my one-week training camp with Spain. Other national teams still have to play this Monday, but we’ve already played our two friendly games scheduled for these days…

Last Thursday, we played in Udine against Italy. It was a tough game from the beginning. They were pressing very well and created an advantage in the midfield to block our way to their box. But we were competitive and managed to get a draw at the end. At certain moments they were better, however, we defended well (David had something to say too!) and we scored from one of our few chances. Italy confirmed that they are a team you always have to be careful of. In fact, they are the European runners-up, a very competitive team…

On Sunday, in Cluj, our rivals were Romania. Their players are not so well known as the Italians but they showed why they made it to the Euro 2016. We experienced a great atmosphere in the stadium, and the result at the end was another draw: 0-0.

Overall, it’s been a good training week… it’s always positive to spend time with your Spanish team-mates, some of which are friends of mine since we were 18. I don’t know how many of you know this, but, for example, in the U-19 team that won the Euro Cup we had players like Gerard Piqué (and he was already joking all the time although he didn’t use Periscope back then!) and some other good players that are not in the national team right now. Obviously, another thing I share with Piqué is that he was a ‘red devil’ also, and we talk about the team every now and then because he understands the greatness of this club.

From tomorrow, it’s time to focus again on the Premier League… Everton will be our rival the next Sunday and we want to get another three points after the important win over City just before the international break.

Of course, I don’t want to overlook the sad news of Johan Cruyff’s death. Many things have been said about him these days. I would like to add that I consider him the ideological father of the football; the one I try to play like and the one I look to learn from as a spectator whenever I watch a game. The intelligent use of the ball and the spaces, the importance of talent over the physical condition and the understanding of football as a team sport are concepts that I definitely endorse. Besides, I think that the idea of attacking and taking the initiative of the game match very well with the philosophy and greatness of Manchester United, where his son Jordi played. It’s a great loss but we will always have his legacy. “He was the game”.

Hugs and have a great week,

Juan Mata


PS: I really hope we can somehow find world peace to put an end to all these atrocious tragedies that we are living through nowadays…

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