Catena: “There are players here who haven’t reached their ceiling yet”

Alejandro Catena (Móstoles, Madrid, 1994) is the Kaiser of the Rayista defense and this time he has a difficult task, that of stopping Rodrygo, Vinicius and company. The defender does not cringe, he knows that the mission is difficult, but not impossible. And so he admits it, with the same naturalness with which he kept a clean sheet against Barça and Sevilla. For this he will have his partner Flo (Lejeune), another central defender with a nose for goal. He trusts a bully Lightning, who has earned the respect of the greats… Like him. A humble and joking player who wants to continue growing with the Strip, the one he went to see with his colleagues from Móstoles when he was 14 years old. He is now a participant in that communion with Vallecas. And his fans will be his gasoline to knock down Madrid, the giant that resists them…

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—This question could also be an affirmation, how is the team?

“Well, in a good dynamic. The victory in Seville strengthened us a lot. We are competing well throughout the season, we put up a fight and we are difficult to beat.

Is there the same euphoria inside as outside?

—The atmosphere is very good, but we are calm and with our feet on the ground. There is a lot of League. We have to keep working and we cannot lose perspective. We are glad that people are excited because it gives us life.

—Have you set any challenges before the World Cup break?

—Arrive with as many points as possible. We had emphasized adding against Getafe and Cádiz. Then in Seville we took out three that, a priori, we didn’t count on…

“Does this Ray have room for improvement?”

—Yes, because there are players who have not yet reached the ceiling and we also have De Tomás, who will enter in January and will add us a lot. With work, we can continue giving surprises and joy to the fans.

-In the mood for see RdT with the Fringe?

—Many and he is the first to have them and he shows it on a daily basis. He has integrated very well. He’s a normal, hard-working guy and he’s super focused, preparing himself to be okay when he touches him.

—Do you notice that the Rayito has already become the Rayo?

—The teams respect us a little, in that we are a modest team. We talked about it in the locker room. Last season, when we returned to Primera, we arrived at the fields and when we went out to warm up they applauded us. It was like, welcome, you’re here again. Of course, once the game was over, they whistled at us, as if to say, damn, the one you’ve given us, you’ve been uncomfortable.

—Is it a good time to welcome Real Madrid?

—I don’t know when is a good time, but since you have to receive him… (laughs). Better to come from a good streak and let it be at home, we are stronger.

“He sets up matches very well and knows how to read what is happening”


“Can you get your hands on it?”

—You can, but we don’t see it affordable at all. We know the difficulty of the clash and the rival, whoever plays. We must be a supportive and intense team to play a perfect game and take advantage of any of their mistakes. It is important to be involved all the time and trust in our possibilities.

—The Girona match showed that Benzema dependence white. This Monday will not be either.

“He’s the best, but he’s not the only one. Benzema raises the level, obviously, although the rest is also very good.

He has already confessed that he is the rival that most impressed him…

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—Benzema is very good, not only because of how he is with the ball, but also because of how he moves without it and how he interprets the spaces.

—What do you remember about the duels against Madrid last season?

—They were beautiful because we competed until the last minute. We were left with a bitter taste because we lost both. The last play at the Bernabéu comes to mind. A ball in the box, which I’m about to push to equalize, and Kroos takes it down the line. I got that thorn. We were five centimeters away from getting a point.

Iraola do you have a plan?

—We trust you have several just in case. (laughs). The coach plans the games very well and then, within them, he knows how to read the circumstances that are happening very well. For the coaching staff these duels are also a challenge.

—If Madrid has Ancelotti; the Ray, to Iraola.

—He is the ideal coach for Rayo because he is getting him to perform very well. Here are the results and the operation of the team…

—Are these encounters experienced differently?

—I don’t know why we footballers have the defect that in big games we are more concentrated. You face them differently and it shouldn’t be like that. We have gone to the Camp Nou and the team has performed very well, perhaps better than in other fields. You know they are so good that you can’t fail, you can’t get confused… That raises you a point mentally. You have to face it with the humility of knowing that they are very good.

“I’m focused on sports, now I don’t consider anything”


—Vallecas also plays. Has it changed much compared to when he came with 14 years?

—The way of experiencing football is more or less the same, but there is a greater connection between the stands and the team. The same because now I live it from within… The fans are more committed to the atmosphere that has been created around the locker room, to our relationship with them… That is perceived and we see it as a responsibility. We try to respond in the field.

—What would you put in the club for the derby?

“Ummm, well 1-0!” The goal as if it is an own goal or hits the referee and enters (laughs).

“How are you personally?”

-Glad. I hope to continue adding minutes and scoring some more goals…

—A competitor has emerged from behind: Lejeune is top scorer, along with Isi.

-It is incredible! I didn’t know he took free-kicks like that, but when I saw him in training… Everything fits. He has a very good shot. I hope Flo puts in many, which are coming in handy for us. Well, there is someone who calls him Flor. I will not name names (laughs).

How is the renewal issue?

—People ask me and it’s normal. I always say it, I don’t consider anything right now. I don’t think this is the time. I am calm and focused on sports. I leave that in the hands of my representatives. When the time comes, we will sit down and make decisions.

—Are you surprised that Luis Enrique doesn’t remember any rayista? And how is he not being in the pools?

—There are many of us and there is a high level of selectable players. If there is none on your list or in your mind, it is because you will have other alternatives. It doesn’t feel good or bad to me, I don’t care. If it sounded, I would be excited. If only that possibility existed, it would fill me with pride.

—Speaking of the National Team, Piqué has retired…

“His track record is incredible. He has marked an era both in his club and in Spanish football. It makes me sad because I, as a center back, looked at him.

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