The Cádiz CF boss looked ahead to the weekend match against FC Barcelona


Cádiz CF head coach Álvaro Cervera spoke to the media via video link ahead of Sunday’s match against FC Barcelona. “We had a bad start to the week and it left us feeling down,” he said. “The days immediately after [Monday’s 4-0 loss to Athletic Club] weren’t happy ones because of the manner of the defeat. We talked a lot and sought to draw some conclusions. As the week goes on, you try to move on from the negatives and highlight the few positives you can find. We’re ready for a game in which we know what to expect. We’ll try to avoid a repeat of what has happened to us up to now. We’ll try to compete well and avoid conceding early, because that’s something that’s been a real problem.”

How Barcelona will be affected by their defeat to Paris Saint-Germain: “Everyone who follows football can see there are different levels. Barça might have conceded four against PSG, but they scored five against Alavés. So they’re coming into this game off the back of a tough defeat, sure, but now in LaLiga they’re up against Cádiz, a side on a run of several defeats who are at a lower level – and when they’re facing a team at our level, they’ll still be confident they can win the game easily and enjoy a more comfortable outing.”

Changes to Barça’s style since their last meeting with Cádiz: “They send in more crosses now; they don’t play in the same way. Since that game, there are four or five goals from crosses that we can point to. They do more damage on the wing. We’ll have to put in a display like we did in the first half of the season, but the Camp Nou pitch is bigger and they often win through persistence, because they make you run a lot. They’re going to pin us back in our half. In our first meeting of the season, we were always in the match.”

Mentality: “The team looked tired [against Athletic], but I don’t think they were. They weren’t working hard enough for one another and were too open. That’s what was wrong with us. That’s never happened to us. We’ve talked about it and we need to improve that. For me, it comes down to the mental side of things. It feels like we’ve switched off slightly, we’re realising that the 24 points we have aren’t going to keep us up, and we’re finding it difficult. I don’t think it’s about physical tiredness; it’s more about mental sluggishness and the fact that, by the time you’ve switched on, you’re losing with no way back. That’s my impression.”

Psychological issue: “When it’s a mental problem, you have to talk about it – without talking it to death – and ensure everyone has a clear idea of what’s going wrong. After so many defeats and goals conceded, I’m obviously not going to come out for my press conferences in high spirits and talking about external influences. But I’m confident that in the long run we’re going to get the job done. We can’t change the way we play if we concede a goal.”

Fali in the midfield: “Within the coaching team, we’ve always seen Fali as a centre-back, but he has put in some excellent performances in midfield. With Augusto [Fernández], Álex [Fernández] and José Mari out, we’ve had to use him there. Fali is a centre-back, but we’ve been missing out-and-out central midfielders. We need to get players back. There’s always a thought process behind these things; he’s not playing in midfield just for the sake of it.”

Inability to keep clean sheets: “It’s down to two things. Firstly, we’re not playing well – just look at the game the other day, when we allowed them to open us up at will. And on top of that, we’re in LaLiga Santander. This division is different. It has better players who are more likely to punish you; they need fewer opportunities to do so. The opposition we’re facing is better than in the second tier. But we know that keeping a clean sheet is fundamental.”

Attacking play: “We have our way of attacking. There are obviously other ways to do so, but they tend to make our life more difficult. Other than [Alberto] Perea and the odd other player, we don’t have guys who can receive the ball with back to goal. The players we have are about speed. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any options for shooting from range. Our attack depends on how we defend. If we don’t defend well, all our attacks are going to start with our goalkeeper. If we can steal possession and win duels, we’ll attack better. We’re not a team set up to attack defences that are already in position, other than the odd player here and there who has that in his locker. So we’re dependent on how we defend.”

Goalkeeper: “I’ve always felt that making a change in goal is an unusual thing to do, as if it’s your last roll of the dice. It’s not the goalkeeper’s fault; it’s the team’s fault. The goals we’ve conceded have been direct free-kicks, one on ones. The keeper needs more help from the players in front of him if he’s to perform better.”

Alberto Cifuentes’ appointment as Cádiz B boss: “The change of coach in the ‘B’ team is the club’s decision. Because of Covid, it’s harder for the first team and the ‘B’ team to work closely with one another, because we train at different times. I’ll keep on turning to players from the ‘B’ team, but right now it’s down to the first team to turn this situation around. When I have to turn to ‘B’-team players, I’ll do that.”

Filming ‘The Walking Cádiz’: “I saw it yesterday and I think it looks great. It’s a good time to do it. Filming it was a good experience. Behind the scenes, there’s a lot that goes into what you see in the video. A lot of people involved, a lot of professionals working on it. [In the video] it looks like I’m talking to the whole team but in reality I’m only talking to three guys. It was a process that involved a lot of stopping and starting, but I enjoyed it. It was an experience I’ll remember fondly.”