Espanyol receives Real Madrid this afternoon. One of the most difficult games for the blue and white club that, after a year in the Second Division, faces it as a party. David López (Barcelona, 1989), captain and cradle parakeet, reveals the difficulties of being from Espanyol in Comanche territory, where it is normal to be from Barcelona.
– What does it mean for you to receive Real Madrid?
“It really is one more game.” It is special because of the players and the history that that club has, and because of how strong it is at the national and world level, but it really is one more game.
– Is this game more valuable after a year in the Second Division?
-Yes. On a personal level, yes. The year in Second is a bath of reality. You go back to playing with your feet on the ground and after many years in the elite you realize that these things can happen. You learn to value certain things and to play against these types of teams again makes you much more excited.
– Is it advisable to go down to Second to know the other reality of football and value more what you have?
-No. I do not think so. For us it was very traumatic and very hard. It meant many changes, many sleepless nights, many very bad moments … I think it’s not worth it but it does put your feet on the ground. Today you are playing the Europa League and tomorrow you go down to Second. The First Division has reached such a requirement that it can happen to any team.
“What hurt the most, the descent or the serious knee injury you suffered?”
—They are the two worst things a footballer can experience. Before the descent I would have told him that the injuries are more or less serious, because they separate you from the team and you live another reality, but after having experienced the descent … it is another of the hardest things I have experienced.
– Can the descent be forgotten or is it stigmatized?
“There is a scar left, no doubt.” When we go back up you live a moment of happiness and peace with yourself. They are unforgettable moments but then you stop to think and ask yourself if it is worth it for everything you lived before. And it is certainly a no. They were very traumatic moments that mark you forever. If it were with another club you might forget it, I don’t know. But when it happens in your soul club and you live it so closely and your friends and family suffer it, because it is their team, it hurts more.
—You said that until you returned to First, you were not going to enjoy or smile. Are you already smiling?
-Yes. In the day to day I had my moments of happiness or distraction, but many times even my wife told me. “I don’t see you at all well” or I saw that you were not sleeping well. He always had the thorn in that pin and the feeling of duty to the club. It seems that the ascent was even easy … Luckily we managed it and it has been a bit forgotten.
—And against Madrid do you suffer or enjoy yourself?
“I think it’s enjoyable.” Especially after coming from the season in the Second Division. For me, suffering was going to the Alcorcón, Lugo, Logroñés fields … and knowing that you were risking your life in each game. That was suffering. Now, obviously you have to leave your life in the field but you are playing against Real Madrid and you are in the First Division, where the club has to be.
—For all that counts, is it difficult to be from Espanyol in Catalonia?
-Yes, definitely. You live with a monster, which is Barcelona, which absorbs everything, which, in addition to the whole world, it seems that Barcelona is only Barça and nobody else. Even for the Generalitat there is Barça and nobody else. Or other institutions, like TV3. But in the end, those who are parakeets have been so since they were little. It is because his family has been, he has lived very good and bad times and it is a feeling that is very engaging. It is a cradle feeling because you are born with it and die with it. Very sure.
—How do you explain to a child in Catalonia that there is another club that is Espanyol?
-Is not easy. It is happening to me with my children. In the end, they go to school and they always see inputs from Barça, and the colors of Barça, and their friends are from Barça, and Barça always win … Living with that is not easy but the one who is from Espanyol is born from Espanyol and his family is from Espanyol, he doesn’t care. On the contrary. That makes us even stronger.
– What would you do if one of your children asked you for a Barcelona shirt?
– (Laughter) I would have to give it to him … I would try to convince him … but if in the end it is his will then he would have no choice.
– What would you say to those who think that Espanyol is Madrid’s subsidiary, that they are not used as strongly against whites as against Barcelona?
“I’d tell them to leave us alone and look at themselves.” Our club is historical, it has values and ideas that are far above all this nonsense. I wouldn’t waste time telling them anything.
“Does the Sheriff’s victory convey optimism to you or that you are going to pay for the broken dishes?”
—On the one hand, it opens a door for us and teaches us what things have to be done to win against Madrid, but on the other hand, that it lost against a team that is by no means one of the strongest in Europe and that will come wanting to win. In the end, Madrid are that demanding, they are a very big club and they cannot afford two consecutive defeats. They will surely come much hungrier.
—Listening to Madrid’s interest in Mbappé, what do you think about paying close to 200 million for a footballer is worth it?
-It’s complicated. The world of soccer moves a lot of money and if the clubs enter large amounts it is a way to invest and seek the growth of the club itself. What I don’t like so much is the inequality between clubs, that Madrid can afford a transfer of 180 million and that other clubs such as Espanyol, Getafe, Granada … cannot afford more than 15 or 20 million , which is already a real madness. Without going any further, the signing of Raúl de Tomás, 20 million, for Espanyol, is crazy. There you see the inequality that exists and obviously that has to be reflected in the competition. But that’s how the game is set up. You have to adapt and try to compete with other tools.
—This is what LaLiga has tried with the Financial Fair Play …
“All the clubs were blocked, with the water up to their necks.” Luck of the agreement with CVC, which has given them some air. I understand that salary limits are stipulated for club upgrades but up to a certain limit. At times like the one we are in, the tap should be turned on a little so that the clubs could breathe a little.
—Do you share Piqué’s complaints about the calendar?
—It has reached a point that there are footballers who play a lot of games. He is inhuman, no matter what player he is, how old he is or what physique he is. It doesn’t matter, in the end, football is a spectacle and it is sold as such, but from my point of view there is too much competition and too many games a year. That a player plays more than 70 games in a season seems outrageous to me. It is even putting the health of the athlete, of the person, at risk. From there, they are clubs that must have sufficiently large squads because that way they could plan rotations, that the players rest and that they had that margin with the high budget they have.