Marc Cucurella will play his first game at Camp Nou on Sunday, and he’ll do it in an Eibar shirt. The Barca youth player has been on loan there and shone on the left wing. He spoke to SPORT at Ipurua and then at Playa de la Concha in San Sebastian, where he lives.
How is it going in the Basque Country?
Very good, to tell the truth. From the first day I adapted to the city as well as the system and what the coach asks for. I'm enjoying myself a lot from the first day and I do not regret it.
What was the summer situation?
It was complicated. I was on the tour in the United States with the first team but I felt that I was not going to have opportunities. From the beginning of summer I was moved by the interest of Eibar and I always had it in my mind. It was a good option to keep growing because of the way they play, because it adapts perfectly to my characteristics. On the last day of the window we decided to take a decision with some risk attached.
And it's going well…
Yes, I am enjoying minutes on the pitch and I am growing as a footballer. At first it was little tough. I arrived with La Liga already started and little by little I gained prominence. We are at a great level, playing good football that sometimes has not been rewarded with the three points. We have to improve that.
It was the team that best suited my game. Depth, width and with two strikers as reference points, and many crosses. A very intense team that Aleix, my representative, had very seen and always told me that would adapt very well to my characteristics. We hit it off.
But you do not play in your position ...
I've always played as full-back but when we were winning Mendilibar put me on the wing to maintain the result and help the team in defense. Against Valladolid I started there and it went well. Little by little, he began to take a liking to the position. It's like playing full-back but a little more advanced. Not so focused on defending and more on attacking and on pressing after losing the ball. In Eibar’s play where there are a lot of crosses and second balls, that intensity has allowed me to earn a place in the starting lineup.
The key was not to sink after the defeat by Sporting in the Copa?
I could not allow myself to lose all the work I had been doing because of a mistake in a game. The opposite. I demanded a lot more of myself in the following matches and Mendilibar kept betting on me. I am grateful to him because after an error where you give away a goal, the easiest thing for the coach is to punish you.
Mendilibar is a highly respected coach at Eibar. What is special about him?
He is a very demanding coach who gives everything in every training session and match. It is demanded of him and of us. That helps us to always give one hundred percent. He does not allow relaxations. He is a coach who squeezes you to the fullest if he knows you can still give more. With him I'm improving the other type of football a lot, not so much with the ball as it is, but the aspect of being smart in the second plays and at the moment of pressing.
Ipurua has something special about it…
Fans are very close to us and we are happy to play at home. We are enjoying ourselves a lot, people encourage us and we rise up. We give a good show and we score goals. You have to make Ipurua a difficult pitch in which the opponent does not feel comfortable and I think we are getting it.
Is the day to day routine the same one you were used to at Barça?
There are some aspects that change. The Eibar is a very familiar club. The president is just another of the staff and treats us with much affection. She pampers us. At Barça we have the best conditions in everything. In the Eibar, everything is more homemade. You value the small details more. The unity of the squad is very important and twice a week we eat together in the stadium. We are a small family.
You shone against Madrid.
I came into it having played playing good minutes but against Real Madrid, because of my Barça history, I had an added incentive. Everything went perfectly. The fans had a great time and we gave them a victory they deserved for the support they give us every weekend.
And in Barcelona they already claimed you…
I know that the fans started talking about me after the game against Real Madrid but it does not affect me, either for good or for bad. Rumors are always a compliment, although I try to evade them. I can not hide that I always dream of succeeding at Barça but at Eibar I am very comfortable. I’d stay here for another year because I'm growing up as a footballer.
This Sunday you debut at the Camp Nou but as an opponent. How do you feel about that?
I’m looking forward to it. Playing at the Camp Nou has always been one of the objectives from the first day after coming to La Masia. I'll do it with the Eibar shirt on but I'm really looking forward to it. It will be a very special game because all my family will be present.
The goal is three points?
If against Madrid we could win, why not against Barça? We have a great team and we grow on great occasions. Barça are the best team in the world but you can always have a bad day and that's when we have to take advantage of it.
You will face Messi.
It will be the first time. In training I have already done it and it's great, you do not know where he’s going to come from. We have to make it difficult for them to get the ball out from the back, and take advantage of our chances.
Do you have the feeling that your return will be marked by this game?
No way. Playing against Barcelona I know there will be a lot of people who want to see my level, but I’m not thinking about that. It’s special to play against Barca. When I’m on the pitch I’ll defend the Eibar shirt until the end, against Barca or any side.
A bet for the game?
(laughs) I don’t like to make predictions because I’m never accurate. I hope we have a great game.