CONFEDERATIONS CUP | SPAIN
Raúl Albiol: "Iker and Arbeloa's relationship has cooled"
The Spain defender discussed his Real Madrid team-mates. He also spoke about want-away Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuaín.
Hi Raúl! This is a very hot place to train, isn’t it?
“Yes, it’s very hot. But it’s a good way for us to adapt to the temperature and the humidity in this country, to play the friendlies coming up and enjoy the experience before going to Brazil.”
What’s the atmosphere in the squad like? Are you ready to win the Confederations Cup, the only title Spain hasn’t won?
“The atmosphere in the national team has been very good since winning the European Championship [in 2008]. We’re very focussed, we’re keeping our feet on the ground but we really want to win this trophy.”
Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has brought three central defenders plus Javi Martínez. How much playing time do you expect to get?
“I don’t know.”
But [former Real Madrid coach José] Mourinho isn’t here.
“Yes, but what’s important for me is being here, coming back into the squad after a few games out of it.”
Do you think you’ve played less than you’ve deserved in recent years?
“I don’t know, that’s up to the coach. Of course I would like to have played more, but you have to respect the coach’s decisions.”
It seems that Álvaro Arbeloa and Iker Casillas are sending each other messages without naming any names. From your standpoint, how are things between them?
“If their relationship has cooled, I’d like it to get back to normal.”
But is it noticeable to you that their relationship has cooled?
“Perhaps it has cooled a little, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t get on. As their team-mate and because I value them both highly, I’d like things to be sorted out.”
Could you go back to Valencia?
“It’s hard to say right now. I’m happy at Real Madrid and for me it’s the best club, but I grew up at Valencia and I have a lot of affection for the club. If someday I leave Madrid then Valencia will be in my thoughts.”
Real Madrid are looking for a new coach. Del Bosque’s name has been mentioned...
“Yeah, yeah [laughing]. Well...”
Would you like Del Bosque to become Madrid coach?
“We’ll have to wait and see which coach Real Madrid appoint. Any coach they appoint is going to be a good one. We’re all very happy with Del Bosque in the national team and everyone talks very highly about his time at Real Madrid, but he’s not going to become coach because he’s already made that very clear.”
Del Bosque has always treated you well.
“Yes, of course. You’re always grateful when you’re included in the squad. I’ll try to pay back his confidence in me and, if I play, show him that he was right to pick me.”
How are Spain going to set up in the Confederations Cup? With a number nine, with a ‘false nine'? Could you play at number nine?
“[Laughs] I could, I’m a great finisher. Look, [Álvaro] Morata scored for the Spain Under-21s yesterday because I taught him how to finish. Seriously though, what’s important is that Spain play well, whether with or without a number nine. Both options are good and it’s the coach’s decision.”
There are more and more Spain players who ply their trade in foreign leagues. What do you think about that?
“Leagues like England and Germany are attractive. They’re very good leagues and they’re going for Spanish players. I think that’s great and it’s good for the national team.”
What do you think about Gonzalo Higuaín’s declaration of his desire to leave Real Madrid?
“‘El Pipita’ is a phenomenal player. I don’t know if we’ll continue as team-mates, but it’s a pleasure to play with him. He’s a spectacular striker. He has fought hard at Madrid, he has had to pick himself up a lot of times. If he leaves, I wish him the best and he’ll be a great addition to the team he signs for. If he leaves, I hope I never have to come up against him, because he’s an excellent player.”