Roque Santa Cruz (Paraguay, 16/08/1981), is in his second season with Málaga CF. After an outstanding first year where the whole side excelled at home and abroad with their football, this campaign they are restructuring and fighting to survive in order to then target new goals, which is what the Paraguay international talks to LFP.es exclusively about.
LFP.es: You're getting to the final stretch of the season; do you think it was a tough adaptation for the side this year?
Roque Santa Cruz: We're getting to the final games of a season of change; a lot of players have left. We knew it was going to be a year of transition in order to accommodate the group again. We are fighting and everything looks like we'll finish the season well. The club’s priority was to continue growing with the objective of staying in Liga BBVA.
LFP.es: After two consecutive wins, how is the side going into the last few games?
Roque Santa Cruz: We're fine. Victories give you confidence and they let you do your job in a relaxed manner. We are working conscious of the fact we don't have anything done yet, but we are on the right track. We must take advantage of our good run and pick up points that would allow us to be a lot more relaxed in the last few games.
LFP.es: The side has shown in some games a great brand of football, but there's been little consistency, why is that?
Roque Santa Cruz: We have found consistency in the last few games. It is like the side clicked, we know each other a lot better. If we were to have had this equilibrium from the start of the season, we'd be safe now. The important thing is that the group has come through the most difficult times. This says a lot about the courage we've got.
"The desire to get better in the dressing room are what will show the difference."
LFP.es: What is this side's potential?
Roque Santa Cruz: I think we've got a lot of quality in the group and we have players who want to carry on progressing. This year's experience will serve a lot of people in getting to know the competition and style of Liga BBVA. Next year we can fight for great objectives. The desire to get better in the dressing room are what will show the difference.
LFP.es: You've got a lot of experience and know how to deal with pressure. How has this served you in sharing a dressing room with players like Francisco Portillo and Sergi Darder?
Roque Santa Cruz: Without doubt the years give you experience. I've had the privilege of playing for sides like Bayern Munich and Manchester City, and this gives you a very different way of working and looking at games. I think this experience now can help the youngsters' careers. We can all improve and when youngsters see veterans, they dedicate themselves fully, and realise in football there’s no secrets, just hard work.
LFP.es: You've scored five goals this season and when you score the side doesn't lose. How do you feel on a personal level?
Roque Santa Cruz: Good, I'm honestly very calm with the work that I've been doing, not just the goals. But for what the season has given us and with the moments we've had, I'm happy with the work that we've been doing and I'm hoping to score a few more goals to help the side stay up.
LFP.es: The next game is against Athletic Club, a side fighting for Europe, but if Málaga win, you'll be a lot closer to salvation.
Roque Santa Cruz: We know that San Mamés is a tough place to go to, and a nice place to show your ability. The tie is very important for them as they’re battling to keep fourth place, but we want to win the game. Given our form we’re going to have the chance to win, but we need to take advantage of our opportunities.
LFP.es: Finally, of the side that dazzled last season, you're one of the few who stayed on. What does Málaga and the Rosaleda mean to you?
Roque Santa Cruz: Honestly every since I arrive I liked it. I feel like I've been here my whole career and I love competing and helping the club do big things. I feel at home, therefore I'm enjoying it.