Paco López, on the Levante bench in a match last February.JOSE JORDAN / AF
P March 4 has a special meaning for Paco López (Silla, Valencia, 53 years old). The Silla coach turns three years old this Thursday since he took over the Levante bench. If at the Ciutat de València they beat Athletic in the second leg of the Cup semifinals (21.00, Four and DAZN; 1-1 in the first leg), the date will be sculpted in gold on their professional calendar. Levante awaits between tension and hope that one of the most important games in its history will arrive. One that can take you to another dimension.
Question . Do you count the hours until the most important game of your life arrives?
Answer. The personal I leave it aside. It is a very important game for all Levantinism, for the club and its people. I'm going to the sentimental plane of the granota fan. It is a historic appointment for a club like ours, which has gone through many adversities and has overcome a lot of difficulties throughout history. Finding ourselves at a time like this after suffering so much is to enjoy it .
Q. If you close your eyes, what do you see? Can you see it in the final?
R. I can't imagine anything. I am involved and focused on doing things well so that the coaching staff and the team give the highest level. I am not going any further. I don't like to make any promises in case I do or don't do something
Q. Is the locker room very messy?
A. He is calm, responsible and professional. We all go hand in hand, each one from his responsibility. The responsibility on the field belongs to the footballers and in the daily preparation it belongs to the technicians. We all push, each one from his plot.
P. How have you managed the last hours?
R. Giving normality. It is a week like any other, with normal training sessions, doing what we always do: analyzing the rival, the previous game, reviewing mistakes … We do not alter our routine, day to day, because we are doing well .
Q. What message did you have? transmitted this week to the staff?
R. Let them release tensions. The focus is on how to do things, on trying to get the footballer to take the field with all the faith and conviction in the world in what we do and analyze in training. For everyone it is a historic match, but I tell the players that they must play and win as they would in any other match.
Q. Is it more difficult to control the tics or manias in a match like this?
A. There is no hobbies. We interact a lot with the work and with the final result of that previous work. Everything is easier in a week like this.
Q. You reminded Marcelino that they have tripled their budget. Is the pressure on them?
R. That Athletic is the favorite is clear. Athletic has the obligation to go to the final through history and we have the illusion, but I don't think the pressure affects them because they are used to playing finals, as we have seen recently
P. Marcelino is a rigid coach in terms of the system On the other hand, you are more flexible also starting from 4-4-2. What is your game model?
A. I don't have a preset script or game model. For me all this is being left behind. We have some ideas in which we feel more identified, but then we have to be open to many things and adapt to the players, the situations, the rival, their abilities, the moments, the injuries … We feel more identified with That with a pre-established script
Q. Levante's speed with the ball, is it due to the player's profile or the idea of the game?
R. We have to take into account the capacity of the players, which is what contextualize the idea of play. If you have players like Morales or De Frutos on the field, then, obviously, their characteristics when we recover the ball will go through more vertical players than if you have players with different characteristics on the field. The idea may change. The most important thing is the capacities and the reactions between the players .
Q. What weighs more, the February minute load or the illusion?
A. The legs are heavy, but the illusion gives you energy. In order to master the pressure of the semifinals, the important thing is that one, during the season, knows how to relativize victory and defeat .
Q. Is wardrobe management one of the keys?
R. We try to instill values within the team and the footballers are the first responsible for fulfilling them. The message that we have transmitted since the beginning of the season has been fulfilled. Everyone has their time to help both on and off the field. It is essential in Levante to build a true team. Not everyone can play the same minutes and it is not easy to make everyone feel equally important. We are achieving it because, from their role, at different times each one has contributed their granite .
P. You have been questioned not so long ago …
R. Not long ago. You learn to live with those bad moments. When you are a coach you know that you are going to live harder than beautiful moments, and more so in a club like ours, in Primera. But I have always felt the support and the trust. In that I have no complaints. It is the day to day of football.