Laia Codina, about the best eleven of the year: “When I saw it I didn’t believe it”

He appeared in the press room with a russet bottle in hand, one of the most valued ratafies in Catalonia. The classification of the Barcelonafor the second time in history, for the final of the women’s champions league which was to be played in Göteborg. Even the president of the Generalitat at that time, quim torracelebrated that Laia Codina appeared in front of the entire European press with a product from the land. Now, the one from Campllong (Girona) has been forced to change its digestif after meals: from ratafia, to limoncello. After four months off and little participation in the best season in Barça’s history, the 22-year-old central defender she has earned the starting job in a Milan that is delighted with her and that he will have it, at least, on loan until the end of the season. In an interview with GoalCodina analyzes his experience in Serie A.

How are you feeling in Italy? Do you feel comfortable?

The truth is that super good. I spent a month adapting, but now very well, like one more. Very happy, because what I wanted was to play and feel that I was improving and that is the way it is.

Was it difficult for you to adapt?

No, it was only the first month, because the game totally changed me. I have been working on a specific style throughout my life and getting here, playing differently, with a 3-5-2 drawing, forced me to change.

Of course. He has had to change a lot from the positional game and from having the ball the whole game to play in Italy.

Very much. When I go to Barcelona and they ask me how I am, I tell them that I have gone from being used to having 90% possession to having 50-60%. However, I really like football. Plus, it has opened new doors for me. I was used to always the same and now I am open to new football and new game models. Having new knowledge is always enriching.

Many footballers who go from Spanish football to Italian football acknowledge having improved appreciably at a tactical level. Has it happened to you?

Very much. We were just talking about it this week. One person told me ‘look Laia, what you will improve the most will be in tactics’. And it is really so. Here we do two days of tactics, precisely the two days before the match we dedicate a lot of time to it. Minimum, about 40 minutes. For example, today things did not work out, because we have dedicated all the training to tactics. Like it or not, in this sense I have made a big step.

Are you playing as much as you wanted?

A lot. When I have been available I have played everything. I am very happy with the confidence because, really, when I started as a starter, I played feeling that I was not myself. Thanks to the fact that I’m playing now I feel like a totally different player than the one who arrived in the summer.

Why didn’t you feel like you were in the field?

It came from a year in which I was injured for six months, off the field. Training with the best gives you a lot. I already said it, I made a huge leap in quality training with the Barça first team for the last two years. But then when you play it’s totally different. In the end, the sensations of a game are very different from those of training and I needed to play.

Have you noticed changes at the club level? Barça’s women’s team is the best in the world and has been professional since 2015.

Evidently. We compare the biggest team in Europe with a growing team. Milan and several teams in Italy are now in the situation Barça was in in 2015, when they turned professional. They are at this point. Milan and Juventus are among the few professional teams in Italy. There is a difference, but it is also nice to experience this process in which things are changing a lot.

At the media level, are the differences also great?

Yes and no. There is less public, but when a nice game is played, for example the derby against Inter, the field is filled with tifosi, who don’t stop singing throughout the game. They may not be as close on a day-to-day basis as at Barça, which is the biggest thing, but you feel that they support you. In Italy they are very passionate, it shows that there is history.

Is Barça still aware of you? Do they call you, ask how you’re doing?

In the end, I’m still a player. I’m at Milan, I’m very good here, this year we’re each going our own way. They are doing very well, I am enjoying what I have to do, which is playing. I am very grateful to Milan. I am in contact with the players, yes.

You are on loan and theoretically should return at the end of the season. Haven’t the Barça staff been in contact to follow your progress for your return?

I have talked to someone. For example, when I was sent off in the Supercoppa final, I did receive words of encouragement from members of the staff.

What did you think when you saw that Lluís Cortés did not win the FIFA Coach of the Year award after winning the treble? Did he just see it?

No, obviously. In the end, we already know how the individual prizes go. And we’re not just talking about Lluís Cortés, we’re also talking about players who weren’t on the Ballon d’Or list. Half the list should have been from Barça. Many were missing, Graham Hansen or Aitana, for example. An individual award, whether you have it or not, will not take away what you have done during the season. We all know what was won. What was achieved is very great and how it was achieved, even more so. Whether or not you have the prize at home, the game is there and so are the collective titles.

Do you have an explanation that the fellow soccer players themselves did not put any treble winner in the best eleven of the year? Not even Alexia, the Ballon d’Or winner.

When I saw it I didn’t believe it. As much as you haven’t seen any Barça game, the Champions League final must have been seen by a lot of people. If you like football and you play, you watch the Champions League final. It is the biggest competition in Europe. I hope there is an explanation. What can it be? Maybe the fact that you can’t watch games is one of the big explanations. I am in Italy and I have many problems to see Barça every weekend. It doesn’t seem normal to me.

Professional teams, more or less professional league, but you can’t watch the games. This affects the players a lot. How do you end this?

I’m a bit out of what’s going on. If I got in the way I’d be lying. But it is true that if you are interested in women’s football it cannot be that there are these problems. Everybody says they want it, but nobody really wants it. There has to be a middle ground and everyone must row in the same direction, because if everyone goes their own way, an agreement will never be reached.

How do you see your personal future in the short term? Do you see yourself wearing the Barça shirt?

It is a question that, now that we are in February, many people are beginning to ask me. I don’t like to think about it too much, because I’m enjoying football a lot. Since we started after Christmas I’m enjoying being here even more and I don’t like having to think outside the box. I know I have to do it, but when the time comes I’ll do it. Even my family tells me, they are the first to ask me. And you know that I like to enjoy what is happening to me now, from the experience on a personal and football level, with the change that I have been making since I arrived. I prefer to see this transition from the present and without looking to the future.

How does Vero Boquete’s departure affect Fiorentina?

We had a very good relationship on the field. He was constantly looking for her. She is a player who is pure football, she understands what the game needs at all times. If she had a question, she would ask him ‘Vero, how do you see it?’ And she told me to do this, this and this. She did and passed. But in the end it’s football, the players come and go. I hope he does super well at Fiorentina, except when they play against us.

They are three points away from the Champions zone. Is it the goal?

Yes, it is the great objective. I see it feasible. The team has made a step forward from Christmas. The Supercoppa has gone very well for us to see where we are. We competed well until the end against Juve, who are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. It is very feasible that we will qualify as second. Of course, we have to win the direct duels that we lost in the first round.

How is Italian society with women’s sport? What impact does it have?

I’m super happy. Almost all of our matches are shown on Milan TV, every weekend there is a free match on LA7d and all matches are televised on Timvision. We are twelve teams and the league is very competitive, everyone starts from a similar point. In fact, we are competing four for second place. In this way all the clubs are very involved. I see that it is growing a lot.