Local rivals Valencia and Levante will go head-to-head in a passionate derby on 11
February. Marcelino’s side are undoubted favourites, but the Granotes will be hoping to snag their first-ever competitive victory at Mestalla.
Roger Marti is a 27-year-old currently playing for Levante. The forward began his career at Valencia B in 2009, before making a move to cross-town rivals Levante in 2011. In a successful 2016/2017 campaign the Levante striker scored 22 times in LaLiga123, to help his side to promotion. His goals saw him finish second in the race for top sco This season has been largely injury ravaged for Marti. He has made three appearances in LaLiga, with his only goal coming in a 2-1 defeat to Villarreal in January.
Q: How do you feel after finally overcoming your serious injury?
A: Very happy to finally be back with the team. There have been many tough months and a lot of hard work. I’m finally back into the swing of things, I’m getting minutes again and I’m enjoying my football.
Q: What has your daily life been like since the moment you were injured in the friendly against Almeria?
A: It was a very tough moment. When I got injured again, in the opposite leg to before, it was the second cruciate injury I’d had. I knew right away that it was the cruciate, that I’d need to reset and start all over again. I tried to take things in the most positive way possible, with the help of my family and friends. It was 6 months of hard work, in which I had people who were always alongside me: Both the medical staff and my recovery coach, Javi. Thanks to them, everything has gone perfectly.
Q: What is the best advice you’ve received during this process?
A: I think that in the end the key is that you have to be positive. You can’t ever give up. It’s an injury that is never good for you, but this one also caught me in the best moment of my career.
It just has to be a setback, and from no won we have to look ahead. I’m 100% fit now and keen to show people that I’m back at the same level I was before my injury.
Q: How has the injury changed you?
A: Above all, it makes me value even more how lucky I am to be able to enjoy playing football, and to take each training session and game as if it were the last. I already did that, but it’s even more the case now. Above all, it’s made me enjoy and value what we have.
Q: What was it like to return to action at the Estadio de La Cerámica following your injury?
A: It’s at the end that lots of things cross your mind: How hard it has been, the solitude, the daily work. In the end, it’s a lot of emotions in that moment –even more so when you score a goal on your comeback. But as I’ve said, in the end it’s all behind me, and now I only want to get back to where I left off and enjoy my football.
Q: Who were you thinking about?
A: My family, above all, because they are the ones who have been with me the most and have always been giving me support –whether that be a hug or whatever else I needed. These are the people you think about then.
Q: The best image to illustrate the situation was your tears at the end of the game.
A: Yes, because everything comes flooding into your head and it’s inevitable that there are tears. Above all, they were tears of joy, at having returned to a football pitch and having done so in that way.
Q: What will be the key to reaching the same kind of form as last season?
A: I’ll pick it up by playing. I’m already gradually getting into the team in the second half of the games, and that is what gets you back that spark and puts you back on the pace. You can only do it by playing. I feel very good in training, but in the end playing games and getting minutes is what will give me the confidence that I’m maybe still lacking.
Q: Do you see yourself starting games again?
A: Yes. I’m ready and I’m training very hard. I’ve spent many months preparing myself physically. That boost that I need is something you get by playing, and I hope that I can be a starter soon. However, it’s the coach who decides, and the only thing I have to do is work hard.
Q: It could come be this Sunday that you get the chance, at Mestalla. What does playing in a derby mean to a Valencian from Torrent?
A: It’s a special game for me, and not just because I’m Valencian. I also spent a few years playing at Valencia. It’s a derby, a nice game to be part of, the city gets into it and we are very excited about it. But we can’t forget that it’s just another three points at stake, and that we have to go there to fight for them.
Q: Is there a different mood in the dressing room in the days before a derby?
A: I think so. In the end, you’re up against your city rivals and you want to win. That’s even more true when you’re at their home ground. We know that it’s very difficult, that Mestalla is a tough place to go, but we have the utmost motivation and the confidence that the draw last time gives us. We’re really up for it.
Q: What memories do you have of other top flight derbies between Levante and
A: I’ve personally played in a few. They are really tight games. We have the handicap of not having won there yet, and we hope to do it for the first time this weekend.
Q: Are there people in your family who are Levante fans, and others who support
A: No, they are all ‘Roger fans.’ I’m playing for Levante, so they are fully behind me and behind Levante.
Q: Do you have any special family plan for this Sunday?
A: Personally, if I’m picked in the squad then I’ll be with the team. My family members who can go, will be at the stadium. I suppose that, as it’s a Sunday, they’ll eat at my grandfather’s house and then go to the game.
Q: How does a derby transform the city of Valencia?
A: I think that the people in the city are very excited, because it’s a derby and a nice game. In the end, these are two teams from the same city, and the game is one that people like to watch and to play in. I hope it’s an attractive, even game, that Levante win, that the fans enjoy themselves and that there is a healthy rivalry.
Q: Would it be extra special to beat Valencia?
A: I think so. In the end, it’s a derby. It’s a game that we all like playing in and I think that a win would give us a lot of confidence –especially as it would be against our city rivals. However, in the end there are 3 more points at stake, which would be excellent for us to get.
Q: How is a Valencian derby different to other derbies in LaLiga?
A: I don’t really know how to explain the difference compared with other derbies. I only know what I’ve experienced, and they are intense games. I can’t talk about other derbies, because I haven’t played in any. I know that it’s a game that excites everyone, and we can’t wait to play.
Q: How does a Valencian explain to a teammate from outside the city that there is something more than the three points at stake?
A: Some of us are from Valencia, we’ve experienced more derbies and we try to explain a little about what it’s all about. We explain the rivalry with our neighbours and why it’s a special game for us.
Q: Is the key to taking the three points making everybody feel that this is a special game?
A: It’s about getting everyone up for the game. I think that everyone is working very well this week, and we have a lot of confidence. As I’ve said, besides it being a derby and us having to be motivated, the 3 points are the most important thing. In the situation we are in, we need to fight for them, and that’s what we’ll do.
Q: Is it hard to handle the tension of a game like this?
A: In the end, they are the circumstances surrounding this game. You maybe have a little extra motivation. You have to control yourself, remember that this is a game of football, and try to put the circumstances to one side.
Q: Do you have a relationship with any Valencia players?
A: As friends? No. I know them from having seen them around the city. I wish them the best, but only after this weekend is over.
Q: Do you know any of them well enough to send them a message ahead of the derby?
A: No, I don’t know them that well.
Q: You drew against them in the first derby this season. How have Levante improved since then?
A: Both the point against Depor and the point against Madrid have been important for us, because of how we got them. The team are very confident now. Obviously we need to pick up
3 points, but those results have boosted our morale. That makes us work this week with even more motivation –if that’s possible. The team are keen to take the 3 points that would give us a lift.
Q: What could be the keys to the game?
A: We have to go there and play to our strengths. We know that they are going to control the pace of the game a little. We have to be able to wait and make the most of our opportunities. We need to be strong at the back and convert our chances.
Q: Can you imagine what scoring at Mestalla would be like?
A: I hope I can. It would be very emotional for me, because of everything about the city. My family are from Valencia. I hope I can score a goal that gives the team points. Above all, I want us to get a positive result, and whether I score or not isn’t the most important thing.
Q: How will the confidence boost from the draw against Real Madrid affect you?
A: Above all, it made us realise that we can stand up to any opposition. The team came back from behind twice in that game, and managed to take a draw. I think that this has to help us when going to Mestalla, with the confidence that we can fight for the win.
Q: Can you give us a prediction?
A: 0-1 would do for me. Scoring one more goal than them….
Q: Levante haven’t won at Mestalla since 1937. How would you convince the fans that this is going to the year to break that run?
A: We know that it’s a tough ground, that they are strong there and that they have the support of the fans. But the team are aware that they can take something positive away, they have a lot of confidence and I hope the Levante fans come along to support us. I hope we can get a victory for them.
Two Colors. One Passion.
LaLiga invites fans from all over the world to enjoy its closest and most emotional match- ups, the derbies, in-person. A rivalry, a city, and just one objective: TO WIN. Through its global campaign “Two colors. One passion” LaLiga continues working towards international growth; they will bring fans from all over the world to get to know and experience LaLiga stadiums, enjoying gameplay by the best teams and best players in the world. The derby isn’t just a 90 minute game. It’s a feeling. It’s a rivalry of two teams that represent a city. It’s much more than football, it’s LaLiga. Go to https://www.laliga.es/en/derbis to become a part of the best league in the world.
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