Real Valladolid and Elche CF clash on Sunday in the José Zorrilla. The 12th of April 2011 match will be fresh in everyone's minds as it was the first step on Elche's long road to Liga BBVA promotion (which eventually came two seasons later). That team included Edu Albacar (Tarragona, 1979) who spoke to LFP.es about the game and Elche's goals for this season.
LFP.es: On Sunday Real Valladolid and Elche CF will relive the Liga BBVA promotion playoff game from 2011. Was that where the dream of promotion to the Liga BBVA started? Edu Albacar: This week has brought memories back to us of that match, from which neither of the two teams achieved the coveted promotion. But in the end football has been fair to both of us and fortunately we are now both in the Liga BBVA.
LFP.es: In that match you scored twice in Elche's comeback, something very unusual for a defender, but not so much for you as you have always been a bit of a goal-scorer. Edu Albacar: We were losing the match and in the second half we needed three goals. We were lucky enough to net two direct free-kicks practically back-to-back and we managed to turn the match on its head and reach the next round.
LFP.es: One of Elche's breakthrough players this season has been Cristian Herrera. How is the youth team player progressing? Edu Albacar: Cristian has become Elche's number 9, he is a key player. We have several players but he is the one who has everything you need to succeed. His hard work and his humility stand out for me because, although he has already scored three goals, he continues to work humbly. That is his greatest strength. And why shouldn't he go on to play for a big team?
"We are a unit. That is what won us promotion last season and that is what has to keep us in the Liga BBVA"
LFP.es: Elche's goal is to stay up, and that challenge can be achieved by beating close rivals such as Valladolid. How do you see Sunday's game? Edu Albacar: We are approaching it as a final. From now on everything is a final. Valladolid is on the border of the relegation zone, by winning this game we would pull away from them and leave them in a dangerous situation. If they beat us, we will be back down there and they will take great confidence from it. It is a very important match for us, and as such we will treating it as a final.
LFP.es: Last week you took an important step by beating UD Almería. And next week you host CA Osasuna. Have you set yourselves any goals for this group of matches? Edu Albacar: When we looked at the second round of matches we noticed that by coincidence the next three or four matches at home are against close rivals. Our goal is to win all of our matches at home, and so far we have done that. We beat Rayo Vallecano and Almería, and after Valladolid we have Osasuna and RC Celta de Vigo in the match after our visit to the Santiago Bernabéu. They are all similar to us and I think that by getting three points we can set ourselves apart from the teams in the relegation zone.
LFP.es: The bottom of the table is very tight, what does Elche have over the other teams? Edu Albacar: When we looked at the second round of matches we noticed that by coincidence the next three or four matches at home are against close rivals. Our goal is to win all of our matches at home, and so far we have done that. We beat Rayo Vallecano and Almería, and after Valladolid we have Osasuna and RC Celta de Vigo in the match after our visit to the Santiago Bernabéu. They are all similar to us and I think that by getting three points we can set ourselves apart from the teams in the relegation zone.
LFP.es: What message would Elche's squad like to pass on to their fans for the final stretch of this Liga? Edu Albacar: They already know. Fight and keep fighting until the end to achieve our goal as soon as possible so that they can go and enjoy watching their team without having to worry about us staying up. We are very happy with the fans because even when we have lost they have stuck with us because they know we will give everything until the end.