The pale blond with the face of a child who successively stopped Rashford, Carrasco, Gossens and Vinicius from the final of the Europa League until the last day of the League against United, Atlético, Atalanta and Real Madrid, is one of the keys to stability from Villarreal. His name is Juan Foyth (La Plata, Argentina, 1998) and he gets on the phone with the voice of a good student to talk about this transformative period in his career. This Wednesday night Cristiano Ronaldo will be measured at Old Trafford (9pm CET), against Manchester that lost the first group game and urgently needs to score points in the Champions League.
Question. How does Villarreal get into the game after six draws in eight games this season?
Answer. Very firm defensively. Parejo’s return has been important because he handles the rhythms very well. We had the ball but it was more difficult for us to create situations, and when we created them we were not lucky enough to convert. We are working on generating more opportunities and improving efficiency.
P. Who are the most expert scorers you have scored?
R. I played against Lewandowski, Messi, and Cristiano in a preseason, when he was at Juventus. Against that type of player, and more so in a field like Old Trafford, words are unnecessary. Obviously, they can surprise you at any time. But we will have to work together because United is a very complete team. Each player will have to be 100% concentrated to be aggressive and try to win individual duels, because there will be many.
Words are unnecessary against Cristiano. It will be a game with many duels
P. What is the origin of your last name, Foyth?
R. He is polish. It was Fojt, but when my grandparents arrived in Argentina, they wrote down anything in the Civil Registry.
P. Why did you become a footballer?
R. My first memory is the nights of the Copa Libertadores at my grandfather’s house, who was a Boca fan. We lost the final of the Intercontinental against Milan. I liked Riquelme and my favorite central was the Thin Schiavi. I watched TV and it seemed incredible to me. He said: ‘I want to go on TV playing football.’
P. Do professionals need to feel observed?
R. It is nice to play with your audience and also as a visitor when the bitches rain on you, although they spit on you like in Argentina. It is part of folklore. I remember a lot one of my first games in First Division, on the Newell’s court, where they welcomed us with black flares.
P. Did you feel the mark as a child?
R. I started playing hook or right inside, but I always liked defending, for duels, for the brand. I knew that because of the height of my family I was going to measure more than 1.85 and would end up playing central. When they told me I was going to play there I assimilated it quickly.
P. He came to Tottenham at the age of 19. What did he learn?
R. Thanks to Pochettino and his assistants, I improved a lot as a defender, I became more aggressive, I acquired things that are now helping me to be stronger. And I learned that in football everything changes very quickly. That one day you are up there and things turn out very well for you, and another day you are not playing and you have to strengthen yourself and surround yourself with good people who accompany you. My wife accompanied me.
P. What is aggressiveness?
R. He trains day by day. Physically at Tottenham I improved a lot. I learned from colleagues like Vertonghen or Alderweireld, who were among the best defenders in the world, or from Harry Kane, who is one of the best attackers. If you don’t go aggressively you have no chance. Kane seems slow but he is very powerful and if he crosses your leg it is very difficult to remove it.
Albiol is always well placed. I don’t remember a time they haggled it
P. What did Pochettino teach you?
R. He always wants to be in control of the game, whoever the opponent is. For him, being aggressive is not just getting into a ball hard to steal it, but keeping the line high knowing that you are going to take risks. Have courage.
P. The less fast the centrals are, the more difficult it is to defend upstairs. How do those who do not have the demarcation of the best Ramos compensate for that risk?
R. If you have the high line and an opponent receives from behind they never have to turn. As much as it leans back. As much! I think that to be a good center back, more than speed, what is needed is intelligence and knowing how to handle both profiles very well. If you shape yourself well and run at the right time, it is very difficult for the striker to beat you. The hardest part is concentrating for 90 minutes.
P. What does Albiol represent in this Villarreal?
R. Besides being a great player, he is a great leader. It is the reference. A simple and positive person who always has a word for everyone. I have played with many very good center-backs and he is the most complete in concepts. It is always well positioned. I don’t remember once they dribbled it, and with the ball it is very good. It gives something to the team that is very difficult, which is experience. This can be seen in the tranquility we have when we defend together and know how to suffer.
P. With Emery he sometimes plays as a center-back on the right in a line of three and sometimes as a winger in a line of four. Based on what?
R. This year I changed my mind a lot. In the first games that I had to be a winger, I didn’t give one hundred percent because perhaps, unconsciously, I made excuses, I told myself that that was not my position. But this year since the preseason started I got mental. I said to myself: “This is football. I touch where I touch I will always give one hundred percent. Without excuses. It’s football and it’s what I liked to do when I was little, and when I was little I played anywhere so now whatever the coach asks me to do I will always do my best ”.
P. What does Emery ask of you as a winger?
R. My main virtue is one on one in duels. I’m not a winger who spends a lot on the attack. It is seen in the parties. I am more attentive to the pressures when the team attacks to recover the ball quickly. That is what the coach asks of me. But in addition to what the coach asks of me, I always try to perfect myself to help the team in attack. Perhaps my essence is not that, but working on it I will improve.
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