The Spanish captain, the most authoritative voice of a very young group, opens up to EL MUNDO at the gates of the semifinal against Italy

Sergio Busquets, during the interview.Pablo Garca / RFEF

Sergio Busquets (Sabadell, 32 years old) is one of the few soccer players in the national team who does not need an introduction. He is the captain, the guy who, since his arrival, changed the course of the team in this European Championship.

After Slovakia, he was very excited. Someone like you, who has won everything, who has lived through everything in football … It was a bit strange to see him that excited.
It is what moves us. Live what we are living now. I am strong, and I don’t usually show my feelings in public, I don’t like it. I am very jealous of my private life. But I couldn’t contain myself. This emotion comes from the position that I have now as first captain, and being like that, having to leave, what happened, with the uncertainty of not knowing if I could return with this group. It was difficult, I’m not going to lie to you. Knowing also that it was going to be my last Euro Cup. That emotion is things that explode in a moment of tension, because also in that last game the team did not deserve to go drowning like that. At the level of results, football had not been fair to the team.
What makes this group so special?
First that my role is different. I have much more experience, I have the role of being the first captain … These are circumstances that make it much more special on a personal level. And apart from that, a very good human group has been forged, where we have all contributed to it, first the coach, his staff, also the players, who are involved in everything we do. From the outside you don’t know what happens inside, but many things happen, everyone is aware of everyone, the collective comes before the personal … They are things that add up and that make that group something great.
From their words it can be deduced that they are a very special group.
Yes, that’s why it hurt so much when I had to leave and that’s why I was so excited to be able to return.
Is it one of the best changing rooms you have ever experienced?
Without a doubt, yes. What happens in the dressing room, in coexistence, is very important for what happens later on the field. It does not guarantee 100% success, it does not guarantee that you will get degrees just being united, but it helps, and a lot. I have been fortunate to have large groups throughout my career, but this group, because of my situation, is much more special.
What do you have to do now that you did not do before?
Well, be aware of everything, individually talk with each player, be aware of the 20,000 meetings with anyone who has a position of responsibility in this shed, be available to everyone at any time, in short.
I don’t know if you have had to negotiate with Luis Enrique. Is it hard negotiating all these things that are negotiated in a concentration?
No, whats going. He has been a player, he has lived through all this and he knows the importance of being well, of being happy, that the player can escape a little from time to time.
Pablo Garca / RFEF

Speaking of Luis Enrique, he is a coach who, seen from the outside, seems very vehement, transmits a lot of strength.
Luis Enrique transmits his personality to the group. The group is with him and believes in the blind. We have blind faith in him and we carry out what he asks of us. He is the leader, and he shows it every day.
There are two Luis Enrique. One that they know inside and another that we see from outside. Or is it not?
No, whatsoever, it’s the same. Man, I suppose that in coexistence he is one, much closer, and we know him more in depth than you know him in press conferences and in games. But there is only one.
Overcoming everything you have overcome, reinforces you as a group?
Be sure, it strengthens you and makes you stronger. As I have said before, it is clear that having such a close-knit group does not guarantee you anything, but it gives you those bonuses you need to be better. With everything we have experienced, what we are as a group, and especially with the most important thing, which is what happens on the field, we are a very difficult team to beat. It is clear that we have to improve, because we are mostly a very young group, for many it is their first experience in the national team, but we are on the right track.
When things were not going well, did you see the younger ones open to criticism? Did you have to do a lot of work to reassure them?
Yes, I reinforced them, because I had much more experience than most, I had gone through similar situations, without going any further what happened in the 2010 World Cup, which we ended up winning. In most tournaments we have unfortunately not started well. In the World Cup we lost against Switzerland, in 2012 we drew with Italy and in the last game with Croatia we played it … I told them that the path was this, that we were being superior to the rivals in everything, that no one doubted what we were doing. we were doing, it would be good for us because it was the way …
The team has a very defined way of playing, and it seems that they carry it out no matter what. Wouldn’t it be better to have variants?
Within the idea, which is very clear, we have variants. We can adapt to the circumstances of the game, but the philosophy of the team is very clear to us. We want to be protagonists with the ball, if we lose it, recover it quickly, and when they squeeze us, if we have to shrink a couple of balls, it is done, but we are not going to hit the ball either because it is not what we do best. It may work for other teams, but for us it is not the best option.
Pablo Garca / RFEF

Italy seems that it is not going to back down …
[Sonre y ladea la cabeza] I don’t know …
Do you think back?
Let’s see, they’re not going to hang from the crossbar either, but I don’t think they’re coming for us. I think we will see a retreat in their field, trying to get the ball back, but not going crazy either.
Why do you think that?
Because we are in a semifinal. You want to do things well, but since you are always looking for a team that knows that it plays all and almost all of them well, you can screw it up. If you leave a lot of spaces behind, you might get caught.
Do you think this selection has somehow already won? It is already known to the public, it has already managed to awaken the enthusiasm of the country …
Let’s see, we are a bit far from what is said and commented on the street, also with the bubble, that they cannot come to see us, it is more difficult. But I think I do, that people have become excited again, hooked. After several tournaments without passing the eighth, even falling in the group stage, we have been respected again, that is important. But we know that this is football, that everything changes from one day to the next. Today you are in heaven and tomorrow in hell.
It’s been 34 days of concentration. Hard, right?
The worst thing is being locked up without being able to leave and without being able to see your children, your wife. But hey, we know what there is, we know the illusion of the group, we know that we have two little steps left …
What is training now?
Now there is no time to train, there are very few days, with extensions, with long trips. We arrived at midnight in the morning and the only thing that counts now is recovering.
The pity is that people will not be able to go to the stadium.
A shame, yes. It would have been better to look more for people and do it in a venue where people could move around. UEFA has decided that way and it is a shame because we would like them to be in the stadium.

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