Luis Rioja: “Let’s go to Wanda to once again surprise football”
The Alavés player attends MARCA before visiting the Atlético stadium
Luis Rioja He is a fast footballer, who likes to face as soon as the ball reaches his feet, and who uses his overflow to create chances, score goals, or leave them on a tray for his teammates. That is, at least, what you see in the field. What is not seen is all the effort and work that this boy from The Heads of San Juan to reach the elite of soccer. A culture of effort that has been working for a long time, when he made playing football compatible with getting up early at four in the morning to open the Rabbit Bar. An experience that helps him keep his feet on the ground now that he is enjoying the honeys of football.
Sportingly, Luis Rioja is in one of its best moments, being one of the best in the Deportivo Alavés after a first year in which he did not find himself comfortable, and having started the vast majority of games. As for the team, the winger trusts that as soon as the dynamics change a little, the Albiazules will begin to win the points that help them achieve permanence, something of which Rioja Is conviced.
- First of all, how are you doing?
- Well, I think I’m doing a good job on an individual level. It is true that collectively we are not where we would like, I think we deserve a lot more, but I think the team has strength and we will come out of those relegation places.
- It is your second season at the Albiazul club, this year with a lot of prominence and being one of the highlights. You are burning stages: from Second B to Second, then to First, now with ownership …
- The truth is that when you are burning stages I think it is something more beautiful, because it is not to hit the jump directly with just playing a few games. I am seeing myself with prominence, Machín gave me enough confidence to do my football and it benefited me. Last season was bad for me and this year I’m doing better and I’m daring more. In the individual plays, the Luis Rioja that I want is being seen, and I think the season is satisfactory for having burned the transitional stage last year and having found my place
- How is your adaptation to the team’s game? Because the team defends behind and without the position of the ball but you like to catch the ball and shoot forwards …
- One of my virtues is speed, and when I see that the team is in retreat I try to break lines, because as soon as you dribble well you face almost the rival area. I think that being retracted also benefits you in that aspect because speed is rewarded on the contrary
- Last year you still remembered the early rises you used to beat yourself up to open the Rabbit Bar. How does that help when it comes to being in the elite? Because sometimes at the top you lose perspective of reality.
- It helps me mentally. I am a boy who has a strong early, who tends to have silly fussies if in a training session I see that someone does not exercise well or does not run. These kinds of actions annoy me because you always have to fight and help your partner, and the best way is to give your all. Early in the morning I have been taught that to open the bar, because there, yes, there was no more to work: without work the bar did not work. Soccer is the same, you have to work and fight regardless of whether you are a starter or not: if we play eleven, five enter, and we are sixteen in the squad, if two are injured the team will sink because when you have to enter you are not prepared . It’s a bit what the bar has taught me, fighting and never giving up, because even though it’s a very beautiful profession and many people live by, when you get here (to be a footballer) you don’t want to go back. Now I don’t want to go back to Second, and when I was in Second I didn’t want to go back to Second B, and the only way there is is to fight, work and trust you
- I do not know if this that you comment also helps you to relativize when sportingly things do not come well given. The other day, for example, Abelardo said that pressure was exerted by other people in other jobs or other situations.
- That depends on how each person channels it. I have no pressure, but we are aware that the team is screwed. The team is in a screwed-up zone where that pressure can come to you at certain moments. I think that if Alavés is tenth, Betis will not beat you and Cádiz will not tie you. In football everything influences and everything depends on the performance of the team.
- You have spoken before about Machín, who gave you confidence. There was a moment in the season, when Córdoba arrived, in which you were in a good moment, but Iñigo played three starting games. Did it surprise you? How did you take it? Because you were being one of the best.
- I’ve been feeling very well throughout the season, I think I’m in a good moment of form, but at that moment the Mister thinks that Iñigo can contribute more to the team than I can do from the starting eleven. He perceives it that way, and the Mister looks for the best for the team, and at that moment he believes that the best thing was for Iñigo to play in that position. He is paid to make decisions, he made it, and I had to help from the bench, and I did it in the best way I could, there is not much else.
- Do you like that role of revulsive or do you prefer to be a starter?
- Every footballer prefers ownership, there is no one who likes the role of revulsive. It’s nice, but who knows if once you are on the bench you will enter or not. In the end, it is not easy, the game has a rhythm and you have to adapt quickly. Every player likes to play from the beginning but you have to be aware that you can play any role, and you have to be prepared and help the team.
- Speaking of the team, how are you?
- I see the team wanting to reverse the situation. It is true that we have two very large clubs and that, honestly, I think we deserved to win against Cadiz and we did not deserve to lose against Betis. We have two very good games in which we have not added the three points, and I see the team ready to get out of there. It is true that we are screwed but also that we are one game away from leaving the relegation places. There are many days left, there are teams that have a more difficult schedule than ours and he trusted that the team will not be among those relegated at the end of the season.
- The two clubs you mentioned, better forget them, right?
- The good thing about soccer is that every week you have a good game and it helps you forget the previous one. It is also true that we have been losing for several days in a row and we cut that negative streak even with a draw, because scoring is always good.
- Emotionally it gives the feeling that the team falls when things go wrong …
- It is the role that the team has and the position it is in. Osasuna’s goal was a rebound that enters the goal, against Betis a silly penalty, a strategy play and you end up coming back, against Cádiz an unfortunate play and a draw … These are details that when you are down always fall into your Against, we have to become strong, avoid specific errors and take a positive dynamic.
- You said there are many days left. We have talked about pressure, but are there nerves?
- No. I think the nerves will come when there are three or four days left. Today, if we have pressure, what do Huesca or Eibar have, which are worse than us? We are one victory away from leaving, there are many left, and the screwed up would be to reach the last two days without depending on yourself. We have to play against Elche, Eibar and Huesca, and that’s where I think the lower zone will be defined. We cannot afford to talk about nerves or pressure.
- I have to ask you about the situation in the dressing room, because there is talk of a bad atmosphere. Abelardo was also asked and he said not much less.
- It is true that there is talk that there is bad vibes in the dressing room, that there are colleagues who do not speak to each other, but it is a total hoax. Do you know what happens? That many times the reality in society today is that it is easier to believe a lie than a truth, but it is still that, a lie. In the end the costumes are united and get along. It is true that the team is screwed because it is in a screwed up zone, but that does not mean that the dressing room is unstructured or that there are bad vibes between the teammates. I would like them to put a camera in the locker room or in the gym and see how people get along. There is a very good atmosphere, the team is united and everyone wants the same goal regardless of whether there are happier players or not because they play more or because they play less. Destructured the locker room? Not much less. And it is true that from social networks they ask for union, but I think that it should not be asked, the union is there, what are not are the results. It is the only thing that the team lacks today: results.
- Let’s talk about Atlético de Madrid. It is a team, obviously, very tough, but … on Wednesday they lost in the Champions League, last weekend they drew against Getafe. Is it the best time to face them or is it never a good time to face the leader?
- In the end they are there for something, it means that it is the most regular team in the competition. We go there to win and compete knowing that if you make the mistakes you have made in previous games they will penalize you, and that they also do not forgive, because these people do not forgive. In addition, they are strong behind, and we have to look for quarrels.
- But you have to go with everything
- Sure, but not only to Wanda, but to all stadiums and against all rivals. We went to Valdebebas and we won, here Atlético beat us at the end and with one less. Each game is different and soccer always surprises, we are going there to, once again, soccer surprises.
- The last one, is the team saved?