De Mesa: 'I always want Barça to win, except on Sunday'

De Mesa: 'I always want Barça to win, except on Sunday'

Barbastro striker and top scorer Adrià de Mesa discusses his time as a blaugrana and the significance of the upcoming Copa del Rey clash

With 31 wins to date, Barça are clearly the Copa Kings, and Sunday sees the start of the journey that will hopefully end with trophy 32 in the cabinet. They first have to get past Unión Deportiva Barbastro, a side from the province of Huesca in Aragon who currently sit ninth in Group 2 of the Segunda RFEF division (fourth tier of Spanish football). Getting this far has already seen two "cupsets". First they put out Ponferradina from the Primera RFEF division (third tier), before becoming giant-killers and knocking out Primera División side Almería.

One of the side's heroes is Catalan striker Adrià de Mesa, who scored in the first round match and top scores for his side in the league with three goals. Now aged 32 years old and having played for a number of different clubs, De Mesa is looking forward to a very special game. A blaugrana at heart, and a former FC Barcelona youth player, the upcoming Barbastro v Barça clash is likely to live long in his memory.

How often have you thought about the match since the draw?

A lot to be honest. It pops up and I quickly want to forget it again, as ultimately you don't want to give yourself more pressure. What you want is to enjoy yourself, have a good time, and less pressure means more enjoyment. However, I have thought about it a lot to be honest. I've just been on holiday with the family, and everyone asks you about the game whether you like it or not.

I recall reading that you wanted Barça before the draw was made, why?

Everyone wants to get one of the two big teams in the league, but in my case, I played with Barça, I am a Barça fan. Due to proximity, for all number of reasons, playing Barça and the players you see on TV every day thrills me in particular, and I was really happy when they came out of the draw, so let's see what happens.

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Are you a big Barça fan?

I used to be a lot more to be honest. You maybe feel it much more when you are young, that's kind of normal, but I am Barça fan, and I always want Barça to win, except on Sunday. I am Barça fan and I watch every game when I can.

Do you have special memory involving Barça?

I will always remember when Messi played against Juventus, it was the 2005 Gamper game and I was there. I was playing in the Barça youth system and was 13 or 14 years old at the time. I recall that whenever you went to train at the club and Messi was there, people were already constantly talking about him. When we used to go and get the kit at the Miniestadi, I remember the entire team were already talking about Messi. Then I saw him play in that Gamper game and I really couldn't believe it, I will always remember that game.

How long were you at Barça?

I was there for two years, although I spent the second on loan back in Lleida. It was a tough year, I was going through a lot of knee pain as I was growing, and I really suffered because I trained and played with pain, but I really enjoyed it.

What can you remember from that time?

Seeing the standard. I came from a good Lleida side, we had won the league, but when I got to Barça and started training, the pace, the players' mindset... I was taken aback.

Who was in that side? Anyone people might know?

There were players like Cristian Tello, Isaac Cuenca, Martín Montoya, Marc Bartra, Carles Planas, Rubén Alcaraz, who is playing for Cádiz now... there's someone else for sure, but it was a good group.

And you were also with Sergio Alegre, who is now part of Xavi Hernández' staff.

Yes, he was coach Sergio Lobera's assistant. He always tried to help us and I have fond memories of that time.

Will you say hi if you see him? Do you think he will remember?

I hope so, he has moved on to bigger things and will have other things on his mind, but I hope so, and I will say hi if I can.

This is a typical "banana skin" game for Barça and you are coming into it in good form, maybe your best of the season. What's the feeling in the dressing room?

We are aware that Barça might not be firing on all cylinders, but this is Barça, and there is no comparison, regardless of how good our form is. We knew we might have a chance against Almería, but we know that it's one in a 100 when it comes to Barça. We will go for it if the chance arrives. We will try.

What's Barbastro's playing style? What can we expect to see?

Our team doesn't play in a low block. We are a dynamic team, we like pressing further up the pitch, we enjoy pressing when a team is playing out from the back. We know Barça like doing that, so the game is likely to be very open, and I think it will be fun to watch. I think it will be a good game if we can stifle the playing out from the back a bit.

You said you are going to play against players you see on TV every day. Is there anyone in particular you want to play against? A central defender, as they are your direct opponent, or any other player?

For me, Lewandowski, he is a legend and has done so much in the game. I also play up top and so I am always watching him more. However, playing against Frenkie, or Gundogan, who has won so much recently, or players who are going to become stars in a few years, will obviously make me proud and I will feel privileged.

Any central defender you want to test yourself against, maybe when going up for a corner?

Well, I played against Araujo when he was in Barça Atlètic 3-4 years ago and I was playing for Ejea. You could already see what was coming, but we fortunately managed to beat them. This year is a different story, but Araujo is clearly a great defender and it will be great to battle against any one of them.

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Barbastro has gone wild over the game, right? The ground will be full I guess.

They said around 6,000 people, and tickets have been sold out for days. Having spent a few years in Segunda B, I have played in full stadiums and been able to enjoy those atmospheres, but many of the players came up from Tercera this year and are yet to do so, and I think they are really looking forward to it, as you never know when you might get the chance to experience an atmosphere like there will be on Sunday again.

Has the wait being long? Other draws saw the game played a week afterwards, but the gap has been longer this time, or have you actually enjoyed it more?

I think it's dragged on a bit more in the last week, but I think it was the opposite since the draw was made. We have enjoyed it more, we are enjoying the ride. We are training really well and this week has been different. Even the physiotherapist wants to play and will be available to play, and we are focusing and working harder than ever, and we want the day to come.

You are probably fond of your time at La Masia, but... if you score, the non-celebration thing, not even worth asking, right Adrià?

Who doesn't want to celebrate a goal? Obviously I played with Barça, but this is completely different. It was many years ago, youth football... nothing to do with first-team football, as they say. I am very unlikely to score, but if I do, I will celebrate... you won't get another chance to experience such a day.

You spoke about Lewandowski earlier... are you going to try to get his jersey?

I would love to have something to remember the day by of course... I am sure Barça will help us with that in some way. Lewandowski? I can try... I will show him my number 9, see if he is up for it, I hope so.

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