Igor Zubeldia predicts a “war, shock” match next Saturday in the Copa del Rey final, against an Athletic Club that “competes very well, that leaves everything”, although he warns that Real “can also do all that and even play his game. “
Zubeldia, who turned 24 on Tuesday, exemplifies the value of the Real quarry, a club that he arrived at in his first year as a child, at the age of 12, and in which, despite his youth, he has managed to settle in the first team, this year as a central defender.
Despite his limited experience in this type of game, Zubeldia confesses, in an interview with EFE, that he has reached the degree of “maturity” necessary to face the challenge. “I myself have noticed the change since I started until now. Year after year I have noticed this change in maturity and the truth is that I am prepared to play these games and hopefully there will be many more in the future ”.
The Azkoitiarra cannot escape the environment of extreme illusion generated in this territory, a “noise” that he assumes as “normal” and does not bother him, although he admits that “there is always a pinch of pressure”.
“It is true that we are not used to playing this type of game, but this year we have also played some important games and we have done well. I think we will do well, “he says.
Remember that the derbies between Bilbao and San Sebastian “have always been war games, shock matches” and believes that Saturday “will be a similar match.”
However, the Real will bet, says Zubeldia, on the “version of until now”, that of a team that wants to play the ball from behind, although the situation of the match may change this formula. “But the initial idea will be to play our game,” he bet.
Regarding his rival, he recognizes that “right now he is at his best” and values that “it is not easy to reach three finals in a single year.
“It is a team that competes very well, that in each game leaves everything, that is the only aspect that could worry me, but we can also do all that and even play our game,” he highlights.
Zubeldia believes that there is no clear favoritism in the Cup final, which faces two teams “with a very different style of play” and in which “anything can happen”.
To face it with the greatest guarantees, the central Gipuzkoan is committed to “not changing anything, not doing anything different” because the line marked by Imanol Alguacil so far is the one that has led Real Sociedad to the final. “Changing things would be something unusual and that could affect us,” he highlights.
The wait until April 3 has been “long”, although Zubeldia explains that the team “has not had its focus on this match throughout the year,” which has been especially concentrated in the last two weeks.
A period of preparation that Real arrived after two consecutive defeats in the League, in Granada and, above all, in the Reale Arena against Fútbol Club Barcelona by a resounding 1-6.
“It is true that the stick was very hard, but the next day we were already smiling, looking forward to April 3 and the truth is that we are very motivated,” says the Gipuzkoan player.
He admits that he did not expect to have the opportunity to win a title with Real Sociedad, since, a few years ago, despite being in Zubieta, “I did not imagine that he would reach the first team”: “This has happened, I am very excited about what I have achieved and more because we are on the verge of achieving a title with this great club ”.
Tired of the eternal debate about his position -this year Alguacil has delayed him from the center of the field to the rear- Zubeldia is aware of the high demand that this position has in the Real, which usually leaves many meters behind the centrals, although he says he is already used to it.
“He asks you to play 100 percent, because at all times you have to be attentive to what is happening, but day by day I see that I am improving and every day I feel more comfortable,” he says.