Natxo González, Spanish coach of the Portuguese Tondela, explains in EL MUNDO what it was like to play at Da Luz, Benfica stadium, without an audience.
The Spanish coach of Tondela Natxo González.
The Tondela a modest team in the highest category of Portuguese football, managed to draw a tie in the glittering Estadio Da Luz headquarters of the almighty Benfica leader of the championship. It was one of the first games without an audience to be played in the major European leagues and Natxo González the Spanish coach who leads the humble team, explains in EL MUNDO what that experience was like.
"Everything changes from the beginning. During the week you train normally, but already on the trip to Lisbon you go in a bus with half capacity, with masks you stay in a hotel with special measures, you go up only in the elevator, you meet the gap in meals … ", explains the Spanish, former coach, among others, of Reus, Deportivo, Alavés and Zaragoza.
Because Portugal has a controlled epidemic, the soccer league returned last day 3 and ten games have already been played, all "with more police than public", González summarizes. "The first difference is the environment of the stadium. You feel it. If you go to play against Benfica you see people in the surroundings, they welcome the team and the rival … And from the bus you feel a tingling, a motivation, an adrenaline rush . That feeling now you don't have . You see a lot of police and few people, "he explains.
Once inside the stadium, more masks and a lot of disinfectant alcohol. " I said to myself, 'but what is this?'. You don't feel everything that surrounds football . It doesn't seem like you're going to play a game or play the three points. You don't feel like you're going to compete ", admits the Spanish.
González acknowledges that once the match has started, everyone, players and coaches, focuses on what is happening on the field of play, despite the fact that there is no public. Even so, he assures that the silence that exists forces them to be more careful with the indications, because despite the fact that "you are not paying attention to what the rival says, you do hear everything." " As a coach you are more afraid of the scream, you are more careful because you scream twice and you hear everything . Now the player has no excuse," he jokes.
His team, 14th in the classification , managed to get a tie at the leader's home (0-0) quite a feat: "As a visitor, you are not in front of your people and that perhaps releases the pressure a little. And as a local you do not feel that support. For example, Da Luz in a corner in favor squeezes, you notice that pressure. "
- And the players, how are you doing?
- There is everything. Some say they miss public pressure. That stimulus. Others are calmer because they are more liberated. I try to make this normal, within the situation.
On the return of soccer, with or without the public, González admits that they have had little time to work and that the teams do not arrive prepared. " We are not prepared, we have not had any preparation matches and we all have that unknown physical issue. I would have had to change the entire team due to muscle discomfort. We do not have adequate preparation". ]
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