Ander Capa “Failing Isn’t An Option”
The Athletic players were understandably frustrated following Sunday’s 1-0 loss to Real Madrid. The visitors were given a penalty in the second half which was converted, but moments later a similar play in Athletic’s favor wasn’t even reviewed. The match was shrouded in VAR controversy, but speaking with Robert Basic of El Correo, Ander Capa ensures that the team has already moved on.
“It’s in the past. At the time the Captain (Iker Muniain) spoke and said what he had to say and he said it well. We shouldn’t make anything more of it. Yes, we were angry after the game. The penalty against us was very questionable. I don’t think it’s clear enough to whistle. Then on the other player Sergio Ramos steps on Raúl García’s ankle. Not a little, he stepped on the boot. I don’t know if it’s intentional or not but the contact is there. I don’t know why VAR wouldn’t review that as well.”
Capa admitted that he didn’t see Dani García’s foul on Marcelo live. He’s since seen the replays and doesn’t think it was clear enough to warrant a penalty.
“I didn’t see Dani’s foul when it happened. In the image it looks like he just stepped on his little toe, a very light touch. It was a disputed ball in which Dani tried to put his body in front and use his legs to take it away. He told us in the locker room that he didn’t step on him. The referee saw nothing and then VAR intervened. Once that happened we already knew what was coming.”
In Capa’s opinion, if Dani García’s foul was a penalty then it should have been the same result when Raúl García was stepped on. Regardless, complaining about it won’t change anything.
“For me, Sergio Ramos stepping on Raúl was the same thing. If it’s a penalty on one side of the field it has to be a penalty on the other side too. VAR didn’t intervene. The referee said to continue. Why should we complain? We can’t do anything about it. I haven’t lost faith in VAR. There have been games in which we have benefited from it and others where we haven’t. It’s happened to many teams, but I think there are teams that benefit more than others, so to speak.”
After the game Dani García said that he feels VAR is ruining football. Capa agreed that things were better before the technology was introduced because of how much it’s changed the game.
“Yes, life was better without VAR. It was better football. The referee decided based on what he saw and if it was nothing then everyone kept playing. There’s nothing we can do now. At the minimum you barely touch someone and you’re hurt by VAR. Everything is recorded and analyzed.”
Now Athletic have turned their attention to Sevilla who will visit San Mamés tomorrow night. The Lions need to take all three points to continue fighting for Europe and Capa warns that no one will have it easy over the final four games.
“Failing isn’t an option. We have to get all three points against Sevilla to continue in the fight for Europe. We have Real Sociedad and Valencia above us and we can’t let Granada catch us. We think Europe is possible, but it doesn’t depend on us. La Real have the advantage, although they must play against Atlético, Sevilla, and Villarreal. Those are difficult games. We also have to play Sevilla and just played Madrid and Barcelona. Statistically, we can get seventh place. We can win three of the four remaining games, of course we can.”
Sevilla have plenty of weapons in the wide areas and there’s no way of knowing who will line up opposite of Capa. “I always like to know who I’m defending, but I don’t give it much importance,” he said. “It’s all about playing well. If I play well then I don’t care if I’m defending Neymar, Bale, or whoever. It’s about facing the challenge and when I do well I’m satisfied.”
On a personal level, Capa is having the best season of his career. The 28-year-old has been one of Europe’s best right-backs this year and he’s happy to have the support of the fans.
“I dare say yes, I’m in the best moment of my career. I had a couple of good years at Eibar, but since Gaizka (Garitano) came here I have been at my best level. I’ve played for Gaizka for many years. He’s taught me a lot and gives me confidence. I try to return it to him. I hear the good words and when fans speak well of you it’s flattering. All I’m trying to do is do my best and help the team. I also like to make the fans happy because that helps me.”
Capa found his best football at Eibar when José Luis Mendilibar moved him from the right wing to right-back. After helping Eibar earn consecutive promotions he became a top player in the league which opened the door to return to Athletic.
“I don’t miss playing as a winger, no not at all. I’m fine where I am now. I thank Mendi for making me change when we were together at Eibar. He tried me in defense and I took to it quickly. I liked it. I was a winger at Danok Bat and when I went to Eibar Gaizka also played me there until Mendi came. In the preseason our right-back was injured and he put me there because we had nobody else. I was happy and didn’t want to move.”
Capa’s path to the Athletic first team has been unconventional. “I look back and say, ‘Wow, look at everything I’ve done,” I wasn’t aware of it at the time,” he admitted. “When I’m 40 or 45 years old I will think that I was moving up every year until I got to Athletic.”
Even when Capa played for Eibar he was an Athletic Socio who purchased season tickets every year. As a fan, he always dreamed of seeing the club win a title and he could help make that happen.
“Right now the Cup final isn’t in my head. There’s no date for it and it’s not known when fans can come. I don’t want to think about it right now. What would it mean to take out La Gabarra? It would be unbelievable.”
The signing of Ander Capa has been even better than Athletic could have hoped for. In addition to establishing himself as one of the best players in his position, Capa has become a leader both on and off the field. Today he’s living his childhood dream of wearing the Zurigorri shirt and wants to help the team qualify for Europe and then lift the Cup title.