Juan Mata is looking forward to Spain’s Confederations Cup campaign, but is aware there are no guarantees of starting place.
The creative midfielder has made Vicente del Bosque’s final cut for this summer’s competition that will see La Roja aim for a first Confederations Cup win.
“I’m really excited and feeling very up for it. I want to experience another Confederations Cup. I’ve been working very hard all season to help make sure things go well,” commented Mata in an interview with FIFA’s official website published today.
“Is it special to be in South America? Yes, because it’ll be my first time in Brazil and we’ll be playing competitive matches in the Americas – which is something we’ve not done before.
“It’ll also be good to know more about the country that’s hosting the World Cup. We’ll get to see what the stadiums are like, have a taste of the atmosphere – which I’m sure will be great, and also start preparing for next year’s competition.
“When you’re going to play in Brazil, the Maracana always comes to mind. It’d be fantastic if we could reach the final there and win it.”
Mata was asked of Spain’s recent dominance in the game and if he has noticed opponents’ respect in recent games.
“The main things are the comments people make before a game and sometimes on the pitch during a match too. Spain are enjoying the greatest period in their footballing history and of course our opponents want to knock us off our perch.
“But it makes us feel proud when we experience this, that playing against us is seen as special.
“One of the lads said that a club-mate of his, ahead of a friendly match against their national team, asked him to tell us not to go all-out against them, because we were playing really well.”
Mata goes into this summer’s tournament off the back of a strong second season with Chelsea, but he does not see that as a guarantee that he’ll be starting.
“I think it’s because with La Seleccion there are loads of us who are important players at their clubs, but then only 11 can start and so the competition is very fierce.
“But I’ve already enjoyed experiencing three major tournaments and my only goal is to keep being involved.”
Mata was nicknamed ‘Johnny Kills’ at Stamford Bridge, for the literal English translation of his name.
“Am I still called that? (Laughs) Not so much now, because it was [Daniel] Sturridge who used to call me that and he’s gone to Liverpool. The rest of the lads call me Juan, in Spanish.
“Well, they try, but there are not many that can pronounce it properly. Nearly all of them say it like the English number ‘one’ – it’s impossible for them to pronounce the ‘jota’ sound!
“[Living in London] is fine. Now I can tell that more people recognise me, perhaps because it’s my second year here but, for a football player, this city is more relaxed than any other.
“Firstly because it’s so big and also because loads of people don’t follow football, so you can have a more normal life than you might in Spain.
“I’ll go down to Soho, which I love, or Camden Town, and nobody will recognise me there. I can go into the centre, walk around, go for a stroll and catch public transport without any hassle.
“When I go into the centre on the tube, when it’s rush hour and traffic makes driving impossible, sometimes people recognise me and say hello, but they never make me feel uncomfortable. I feel very relaxed and can just go along, chatting with my friends.”