Juan Mata has hit reporters with the cliché that Spain’s upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Finland and France are ‘two finals’.
La Roja go into the double header joint top of Group I with the French, with most of the build-up this week centred on the trip to Paris next Tuesday and the potential group decideder.
“We are all aware that there are two finals for us against Finland and against France,” Mata told Movistar today
“As the Coach has already said, it would be a mistake though to think of the game in France because first we have to win in Gijon.
“There are six important points here to achieve the goal, and hopefully we can do it.
“Finland are a team that counter-attacks well, playing with three in midfield and usually they get the ball to their striker, who is their reference point, and thereafter build up the play.
“They are very attacking and have players at a good level, such as Pukki, who was at Sevilla, a crafty left-footer. They are a dangerous team.”
Spain play Finland at El Molinon, the home stadium of Sporting Gijon, who are strong rivals with Real Oviedo, the team Mata and Roja teammate Santi Cazorla played at youth level with.
“The stadium is nice to play in, the crowd are close up, the grass is always nice and the matches with Real Madrid Castilla and Valencia there always went well.
“In the end, we will be playing there as Spanish, even if Santi and I played in the youth team at Oviedo. The fans will not be Sporting or Oviedo, they will be Spain fans.”
Attention then turned for Mata back to club level, and the rumours linking Jose Mourinho with a return to Chelsea in the summer, in place of current interim boss Rafa Benitez.
“At Chelsea they have fond memories of Mourinho. They did things very well with him, won titles and the fans keep him in high esteem, but today Mourinho is the Coach of Real Madrid and Benitez is at Chelsea, so we have to focus on that.
“Of course Mourinho is one of the best Coaches out there, but I do not know what will happen. For now I am enjoying working with Benitez and his way of training.”
Mata was also asked of Andre Villas Boas, who was recently speculated as on Madrid’s list of future Coaches and who worked with Mata last term at Stamford Bridge.
“Villas Boas? I think he is a great Coach, modern and young, but even with his experience and qualifications things at Chelsea did not go very well.
“With me he was always good, we have a great relationship and I will always be grateful to him. He is a Coach who could train any team.”