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Marc Roca: "I became an athlete at Bayern"


Highlights: Marc Roca says he is a much better player now after spells at Bayern Munich and Leeds. Midfielder has gained seven kilos of muscle since leaving Espanyol three years ago. Roca: "I'm a much more complete footballer. I've changed both mentally and physically, with a lot of shadow work" The 27-year-old says he feels happy and ready for the challenge of playing for Betis. The Catalan midfielder is one of the best exponents of the green-and-white team.

The Betis midfielder and one of his references, feels like a better footballer after his time in Germany and England and having gained seven kilos of muscle

Marc Roca (Vilafranca del Penedès; 27 years old) is the last to leave the dressing room at the Ciudad Deportiva Luis del Sol, the home of Betis' first team. The Catalan midfielder is one of the best exponents of the green-and-white team. He says he is a much better player now after spells at Bayern Munich and Leeds. Raised at Espanyol, a constant work of improvement based, above all, on the physical aspect, has transformed him.

Question. Has Betis found your place in the world?

Answer. I feel like I've found a good place, where I feel very comfortable. Betis' style of play favours me, it's the one I've always practised. Playing outside of Spain has made me mature a lot as a person and a footballer. I'm a much better player than the one who left Espanyol three years ago. I feel happy and ready for the challenge of playing for Betis.

Q. How has your time at Bayern Munich and Leeds affected you?

A. I left Espanyol as a child and I came back to Spain as a man. I'm a much more complete footballer. I've changed both mentally and physically, with a lot of shadow work. My football is better. I'm no longer just a good ball handler. I've won defensively in duels, tactically, which is very important for a midfielder, and I deploy in attack. I went to Bayern weighing 74 kilos and now I weigh 81. That's a lot of kilos that I've gained in muscle mass. A lot of people say that if you're stronger, you'll also be slower and less agile. In my case, that hasn't happened. I feel stronger, more agile and more dynamic.

Q. Is it true that the Bayern dressing room is very closed and difficult for the outside player?

A. No, it doesn't. They treated me well and I felt like one of them from the beginning. It is true that he had a direct competition called Kimmich and the coach opted for him most of the time. But I trained very well and when I played I gave my best version beyond the ankle injuries. There came a time when I felt in my heart that I had to change my scenery and I went to England.

Q. There's a lot of talk about the pace of the Premier League. Is it really that intense?

A. Yes, it's true, there's a lot of difference in the pace because the games there are frenetic. There's a lot of back and forth. But I had just spent two years in Germany, where I became an athlete rather than a footballer and that allowed me to be prepared to play so many games at a good level in the Premier League. Our football is more possession-based, where we try to generate superiority with the ball. In England everything is more direct. It is constantly attacked and attacked. My essence of football is Latin, but I've been able to adapt to other cultures and I've evolved a lot.

Q. Are you so obsessive in Germany about physical and gym work?

A. Totally. It's a cultural aspect and I would say almost genetic. The Germans are very strong.

Q. Bryan Zaragoza joins Bayern. What can you say?

A. We all know what it's like to play for Bayern. I wish him all the best, many successes. It's a good dressing room and they're going to help him.

Q. Do you think there is a talent drain in Spanish football?

A. So much as a leak, I don't know, but it is clear that the economic power of leagues like the Premier League takes advantage of the talent that exists in Spain. I hope that LaLiga recovers from all the damage caused by covid and the teams can grow more economically and return to the situation of before.

Q. To be a good midfielder do you have to...?

A. Be a good leader.

Q. What do you do if you receive a ball from behind your defender?

A. If you receive from behind, you must play fast from the face. The thing is that as a midfielder you have to know how to control space-time. That's the most important thing. You must know at all times if you are alone or not and know where your companions are. From there, you make the best decision possible. My role is to provide the team with balance and good ball circulation.

Q. How do you see your teammate Isco's moment?

A. I feel very good with him and with teammates like Guido (injured ankle for several weeks), William and Guardado. I think Betis play a very attractive game. Isco is doing very well, at a very high level. The MVPs he receives are no coincidence. You can tell he's very happy at Betis.

Q. He has had coaches who have left their mark on him, such as Rubi, Flick and Nagelsmann. What does Manuel Pellegrini's name say to you?

A. He's a leader. A coach who needs this dressing room, where there is a very good vibe. The energy is good and the level of the squad is high, but the leadership is exercised by Manuel. Its tranquility gives us a lot of calm to play. He lowers our tempers a lot in the good moments and, most importantly, when things didn't go our way at the beginning of the season, his naturalness with which he dealt with the situation calmed us down. We knew the results were going to come and now we're in a very good momentum. We're strong at home and we've been unbeaten in many games in the league (10).

Q. How do you see the match against Madrid this Saturday?

A. It's true that they have important absentees, but we know the quality of Madrid's squad. What strikes me the most is its verticality. We have to do very good surveillance so that they don't have spaces and then be very effective. We have to put in the ones we have. We're fine at home. I think it will be a very nice match.

Marc Roca, at Betis' training ground. Alejandro Ruesga

Q. Because of the area in which he plays, he will face Bellingham. How do you analyse your breakthrough in La Liga?

A. We know its quality. He's at a great level. It's not just him, you also have to take into account players like Rodrygo. Bellingham will break the game at any time. I knew him from Germany and he was already noted for his talent. What I didn't expect was that he would score so many goals.

Q. Your reference as a footballer was Xabi Alonso, how do you see Kroos, your successor at Madrid?

A. An excellent player. It's true that my reference is Xabi Alonso, but I've paid a lot of attention to Kroos. A footballer who doesn't lose a ball, who plays short and long. And it seems not, but he also takes a lot of balls. He's been one of the best players at a team like Madrid for a decade. That says it all.

Q. He has been on Luis de la Fuente's shortlist for the national team. Would you like to play in the European Championship in Germany?

A. He's following me and I'm grateful for that. I would like to make my debut with the senior team (he has been European U21 champion with Spain) and play in the European Championship. But for me right now the most important thing is Betis and giving my best every day.

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Source: elparis

All sports articles on 2023-12-08

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