Tena: If Thievy is sold, then that’s for the best
Espanyol assistant manager Alfredo Tena held the pre-match press conference, on behalf of manager Javier Aguirre, who serves the second of his four-match touchline ban against Real Madrid.
Ahead of hosting Real Madrid on Sunday evening, Espanyol assistant manager Alfredo Tena suggested that the players are all fired-up for the game, as they seek an important boost to their morale against such a powerful opponent.
“The players look motivated, they always are, but it’s no secret that when you’re playing against a huge team like Real Madrid, you’re additionally motivated. At the stadium too, there will be a greater atmosphere. We’re looking for a little something more that will give us the inspiration to beat Real Madrid and a solid defence, like we showed against Atlético Madrid.”
Tena assured that the team have prepared well tactically for the game, but when asked how Espanyol have specifically set out to beat Real Madrid, he joked that he didn’t wish to risk the wrath of manager Aguirre, by revealing too much ahead of the game.
“They have many aspects we’ll have to take care of. They have a very strong counter-attack, they’re decent at set-pieces, players that are powerful in the air and other small details that we’ve observed, which we don’t wish to highlight, because the boss will nag at me. Real Madrid don’t play together as at team like some do, but they do play very forcefully.”
Having mentioned that victory against Atlético Madrid, the only time that Diego Simeone’s side have been beaten in La Liga this season, Tana was asked if that’s the sort of strong performance his team will be trying to repeat, against Real Madrid.
“Much of what we did against Atlético, I think we can repeat. The intensity, the reciprocal coverage of the players, the transitions from defence to attack, plus a few little things that we can change.”
With Sergio García our of the game suspended, Tena was also asked if Espanyol will opt to play with a single striker and a 4-2-3-1 formation, or play someone else in his place and retain the 4-4-2 formation with two strikers, that has brought the team more goals.
“Sergio always plays and that’s not to say he’s irreplaceable, but important. We’ll try to get another player to do what Sergio does. Playing with two strikers has served us well, but we’ll see tomorrow, if we’ll have any changes.”
Along with Sergio García, Espanyol will also be without another key player, David López. Tana feels there’s enough depth in the squad to cover the absence of both.
“They’re important absentees, but we’re not going to sit here crying about it, nor are we going to play with nine players. We’re motivated and optimistic and we have plenty of options.”
Attention then turned to the situation with French striker Thievy, with the first questions seeking an answer as to why the player missed training on Friday. Tana explained the situation and also clarified that the club are looking to move the player on, if they can during the January transfer window.
“He was kept apart from the team because of his repeated breaches of club rules. Tomorrow he’ll train with those who haven’t been included in the squad and then we’ll see what we can do in the January transfer market.”
Obvious that Thievy now has no apparent future at Espanyol, also pointed out that the club are looking to sell the player and sever ties completely, rather than send him out on loan.
“It’s a move the club are involved in and if we can’t count on him in the team, the club will try to find the best option possible. If he’s sold, then that’s for the best. If he’s loaned, then we’ll see if he can be revalued somewhere else.”
Finally and giving further explanations regarding the situation with Thievy, Tana insisted that they have tried their best with the player.
“We have tried. The manager has tried and has even been a little fatherly with Thievy, but there have been repeated breaches of club rules and we have to exercise authority, because in the end if we don’t, then that’s what we lose. We all follow a disciplinary code and if something happens every fifteen days or every month, that’s a risk and our code of conduct regulations are specific.”