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Sunday, Dec 08, 2019

Catalan derby very emotional, very passionate, says Espanyol striker Borja Iglesias

Borja Iglesias has scored eight goals in just 14 League games for RCD Espanyol and ahead of their Derby at home to FC Barcelona Hindustan Times caught up with the in-form striker.

football Updated: Dec 07, 2018 17:46 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Borja Iglesias (L) joined RCD Espanyol at the start of 2018-19 season.
Borja Iglesias (L) joined RCD Espanyol at the start of 2018-19 season. (REUTERS)

One of the most heated matches in the Spanish La Liga is the Catalan Derby between RCD Espanyol and FC Barcelona. Top of the table Barca travel to their neighbours this weekend and both teams will be looking to get all three points as they look to achieve their respective goals. Over the recent years Barcelona have had the better of the match but the Budgies will fancy their chances especially with Borja Iglesias in their ranks. The 25-year-old has been on fire this season after having joined from Celta Vigo, scoring 8 goals in just 14 games.

Hindustan Times caught up with Borja Iglesias ahead of the big derby this weekend.

Q: What is Borja Iglesias like as a player?

A: I think I’m a passionate player, who experiences every moment with a lot of intensity, enjoys himself and works hard. I like to learn and keep growing.

Q: Who were your idols as a child?

A: There were many. I’ve said several times there have been many players who I have liked a lot forever. I focused on strikers, and in LaLiga we had Morientes, Fernando Torres, David Villa, Raúl Tamudo ... Many strikers that you try to analyze and learn from. When you watch football and like what you see, you try to learn from it.

Q: Many people think you debuted this year, but you first appeared in Seville many years ago?

A: On January 3rd, 2015. I remember it, because New Years Eve was a different experience. It was a year where I was afraid to eat, because I had the possibility of traveling to Seville with Celta and getting my first few minutes. It was a very nice experience, with the team at which I grew up, and I remember it fondly.

Q: You made your return to LaLiga aged 25. Is that ideal?

A: I think things happen when they have to happen. I would have liked to have debuted 7 years ago and spent 6 years playing at the highest level before now. I have been progressing little by little, with firm steps, and I have been feeling comfortable. I think now is an ideal moment.

Q: In your first game in Cornellà, you scored your first goal.

A: It’s special. I had a small bit of unfinished business there. My grandfather passed away long ago and I had saved that goal for him, because I knew it was going to come. I had saved it for him. It’s a special moment, because it’s your first goal in the Primera Division, which on a personal and professional level is a very big deal, but if you have that emotional weight, then it feels even better.

Q: What was that goal like?

A: It was a counterattack. I don’t remember who sent the ball over the top to Leo. Leo was ahead of the fullback, Neto covered the attempt to dribble around him and the ball fell to me. I practically pushed it into an empty net.

Q: Those first six games, did you suffer from rookie mistakes?

A: It’s funny because sometimes it seems like goals come without thinking, almost unintentionally. I think that in the first few matchdays I had many chances on goal and I wasn’t able to convert them. From there, little by little, I felt more comfortable and calmer. The trust of my teammates, the coaching staff and the club is very important in that situation. As soon as you score another goal you see that you still have chances, that you will have situations to score and that you have to have complete confidence. Right now I feel very good and hopefully the streak lasts.

Q: What are the objectives for both Borja Iglesias and Espanyol this season?

A: I think they are similar. To keep growing and keep improving. I think that in that sense it’s an ideal time to continue growing and keep contributing. I’ve never set targets for goals before and I don’t think I will do it now, but right now I’m focusing on scoring more and doing what is necessary to help.

Q: Reviewing your goals, I can see that they all come from the left.

A: It must be a coincidence. I think I’ve had a lot of chances from the other side too and I just haven’t been able to complete them. It’s something that we can look at, analyse and improve.

Q: Of your almost 70 goals as a professional, you’ve only scored 3 with your head. Is this your weak point?

A: It’s what I have to improve, without a doubt. I have learned a lot, I have improved a lot and lately I am enjoying situations in which I have scored and in others the goalkeeper has won out. I think I’m improving, I’m working hard on it and I hope to continue growing in that facet.

Q: I read that during your time at Zaragoza you had a teammate who helped you a lot with it…

A: Gaizka [Toquero] helped me a lot. When I had a chance in training he analysed it with me and I was able to try to find the points where I could improve. Last year, watching him and getting his advice, I grew a lot.

Q: Social media. Are you a social media addict?

A: Yes. I like them and I enjoy them. It isn’t something that I’m continually checking, but when I have time I try to get positive things from them and spread a little love. I receive a lot of affection and sometimes being able to repay that even a little is good.

Q: Do you fit the new footballer 2.0 profile?

A: It’s another way of looking at things. Both in these situations and in many others, I think that everyone has their essence and they express it as they think best. I’m very comfortable like that and I learn a lot from things that I see. I try to keep learning.

Q: The atmosphere for the big Catalan derby is completely different. Does a player notice this and have to separate themselves from it?

A: It’s difficult. I think that you have to try to avoid it a little, because it is something that is very emotional, very passionate. It’s nice, but I think you need to look for a balance.

Watch RCD Espanyol vs FC Barcelona this Sunday from 01.15 am on Facebook