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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Parejo Speaks! About QPR...About London...About Spain

From His Blog/Guest Essay - Guillembalague.com

Dani Parejo: On playing for Spain; La Liga and QPR

- I’ve been out in Portugal this week with the Spanish U21s. Unfortunately we lost 4-1 but, in all honesty, I actually think that we played quite well overall and the scoreline doesn’t really reflect the performance. It was a friendly match so I guess that at the end of the day we should be focusing on how we play rather than the result. We controlled possession throughout and had the better of the early chances. However, they had three opportunities in the first half and scored three goals. I’m pleased with my own performance and got a good 80 minutes out on the pitch, scoring Spain’s only goal from the penalty spot.
- Guillem has just been chatting to me about our role in the junior Spanish sides and asking me if we feel any sort of pressure as the next generation that will have to follow in the footsteps of a senior side that is playing so well at the moment. The truth is that we don’t: well personally speaking, I can say that I don’t. The way I see it is that we are all part of the same team and right now I think that the Spanish national team, at all levels, is just about the best in the world. I’ve been a part of that group since I was 16 years old and like many of the others – including most of the senior players – I have worked my way up through the different age groups playing in numerous championships. Most of the various age groups are champions in their own right, for example, I was a part of the team that the U19 European Championships in Greece in 2007. So we are all Champions and while we obviously have huge respect for the guys in the senior side, we don’t see them as separate to us or feel any pressure that we will have to step up and follow on from them: it doesn't feel like we’re in their shadow. It involves a much smoother transition than that and the whole set up is about everyone working together to achieve the same aim.
- Of course, as a midfielder I look at guys like Xavi, Iniesta, Cesc Fabregas and Xabi Alonso and want to be in their place one day – but the important thing is we are all wearing the same shirt and it is a huge honour to be wearing the Spanish shirt and representing your country at any level. Spanish football is at an incredible level at the moment and the belief running through the side, with the players that Spain has it its disposal, everyone is enjoying it and playing every game expecting to win - and to play the game in our own way.
- I’m able to keep up with the Spanish league and always try to catch the Real Madrid games on Sky Sports. I try not to miss the Barcelona games either, even though I’m a Madrid man, but I have to admit that Guardiola’s side look very good at the moment. However, I think that Madrid should get some credit too. Everyone is talking about a crisis but at the moment we are only 5 points behind Barcelona and a lot could change in the next month.
- The problem is that Real Madrid are the best club in the world and people have this idea, this expectation, of how they should be playing every single game. Everyone starts using words like crisis after a single defeat - well sometimes not even after a defeat - sometimes after a draw. People expect Madrid to win every game and demands they win in a certain way, without taking in to account that there are some very good opponents and some tough away grounds to visit where you cannot always play the way you might want. People don’t always judge Madrid on the results, but on the performance, without realising that things aren’t how they were in the past: that there are a lot of teams in La Liga that are much more competitive than they used to be.
- Its not all bad at Madrid right now, in spite of what the press might say. There’s a lot to be positive about and I’m really pleased for Higuain. He’s finally getting the chance to show what he can do and he really deserves it. It was hard for him to get opportunities last season and he was behind Raul and Van Nistelrooy, but he’s got his chance this year, he’s more confident and he is not afraid to try things now.
- Aside from Barcelona, I have to say that I’m really impressed with Villarreal, I love the way they play and they deserve a lot of credit for doing things the right way: with a great coach. I’d really like to see them push for the Spanish title this season and if you get a chance, check them out, they’re a proper football team.
- Back in London and I’m still settling in well. The English is coming along and I’m working away trying to improve. I have my sister over here now as well and she is here to perfect her English so we are all helping each other along. I’m mates with Ledesma in the QPR dressing room as he is another Spanish speaker, but to be honest we’re trying to separate ourselves a little, otherwise we end up speaking Spanish all the time and that’s no good at all.
- As you know, there have been a few changes at QPR. Paulo Sousa, the new coach, has spoken to us already and we were all really impressed by him, he comes across really well. He also has everyone’s respect, which is very important, as a player who has won the Champions league twice and been a very important player for Portugal – he really knows where he is coming from football-wise and I’m really excited about his project. We’ve all chatted with him but not had the opportunity to train with him yet, that will be on Monday and we are all keen to get things underway.
We are away at Watford tomorrow and we must go there looking for a win. Three points could move us back up in to the top six which is where we must be, but we need to improve our form away from home. Apparently we have only scored in two league games away from Loftus Road this season and we need to improve on that; our home form has been much better and it is our away form that is costing us. We need to put that right, starting this weekend. Guillembalague.com

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