Before our game against Ural, we caught up with our Argentine forward to talk about our recent form, rumours about him leaving, and much more! The full interview is given below.
Q: Spartak’s journey in the Champions League turned out to be quite short. Why couldn’t we manage to play well against Benfica?
A: It became clear from the very onset that Benfica were capable of playing at a very high level. In order to achieve a decent result against them, we had to fight like we were fighting for our lives. We tried, nobody gave up, but the result was sad. They taught us a footballing lesson.
Q: How far do you think they’ll go in the Champions League?
A: The tournament is very tough, it asks a lot from all the teams playing in it. I hope that they get out of the group because they’re a good football team. It’s a shame that we aren’t in the groups this year.
Q: Now Spartak will play in the Europa League. What goals should we set for ourselves in this?
A: We should strive to get into the knockouts. Of course in the group stage we’ll get a few tough opponents, but we’ll be able to show bright and productive football, I don’t doubt that.
Q: Rui Vitoria has already used a few different tactical systems. How is the adaptation going?
A: The new coach is very demanding of us from a tactical point of view. In the game in Lisbon, he asked us to play very carefully. Alas, everything has not worked out for us so far. In my opinion, the issue is not adaptation; we just need to work more efficiently in all facets of play. The result will come naturally.
Q: What do we need to do against Ural to interrupt this streak of losses?
A: Our team is in a difficult situation, there is no denying this. At the training camp we were very good, but now the situation is tough. Nevertheless, we hope that in the next match we’ll be able to get back on track. We will definitely have chances to score, we just need to take them.
Q: The new coaching staff speaks Portuguese. How easy is it to communicate with them?
A: Of course, communication has become much easier for me. The coaches also speak Spanish and I can always turn to them.
Q: You have been playing with the number 9 on your back this season. Mirzov held the number before that, was he content with giving the number to you?
A: I asked for the number at the end of last season, at the time we didn’t know if Mirzov would be in the team this season. Therefore, there was no issue at all.
Q: Recently there have been a number of rumours about you potentially leaving Spartak to go to another league. What can you say about them?
A: I have no idea why people are coming up with rumours about me being ‘discontent’ at Spartak. This is absolutely not true. As for offers from other clubs, they were present, but I chose to stay. I like everything here, and I am grateful to the club, I will try to score more goals for it.
Q: Last season Sobolev told us that you and him mirrored each other on the pitch. How is your partnership with him?
A: We play well together, there will be more games this season so rotation is inevitable as well. Everybody will get a lot of playing time.
Q: Larsson and Sobolev were ahead of you in the scoring charts last year. Do you intend to usurp them this year?
A: The fact that those two were ahead of me in the goalscoring charts only intensifies my desire to score. I hope that I will help Spartak achieve success, and also be the top scorer this season.
Q: After the goal against Nizhny, you ran to the stands to meet your family. Does your family attend all of Spartak’s games?
A: My wife and son always attend home games, so it is always pleasant to surprise them with a goal. It is a pity that we are not allowed to have full capacity in the stadium, I hope this will change soon. I am also good friends with Ayrton, our families and children often play with each other.
Q: Last year you and Ayrton were on holiday in Sochi. Do you plan to explore other regions in Russia?
A: The experience in Sochi was interesting. There are many places worth visiting in Russia, but we have a tight schedule, so I don’t know how much I’ll be able to travel. As for vacation, I spent two weeks in Argentina after the end of last season and that was it. The Olympics began after that. After going to Japan, I flew to Spain for a bit, and then came back to Moscow.
Q: You said that it is hard to find mate in Moscow. Have you found a plug for your favourite drink yet?
A: I found a website where you can order a great one. Even without this though, I bring a year’s worth of mate in advance whenever I come from Argentina.
Q: Did you follow Spartak’s matches while you were in the Argentine Olympic team?
A: Due to the time difference, I mostly watched highlights and not live broadcasts. I was always in touch with the guys, talking with them about the new coach and his tactics. So even in Japan, I did not leave the team.
Q: How were the Olympics?
A: It was a great experience, it’s just a pity that our team didn’t make it out of the group. I can’t be satisfied with the fact that I got a bit of match practice. It’s hard to accept, but we will work harder.
Q: How do you feel about Messi’s transfer to PSG?
A: It’s hard to believe, because Leo and Barca are almost synonymous. I think many dreamed that Messi would remain at Barca until the end. On the other hand, it will be great to watch the stellar team that has assembled in Paris.