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Jan Oblak
Jan Oblak has so far played an excellent season for Atletico Madrid. Foto: EPA

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Oblak: “I want us to beat England on their home turf!”

The 24-year-old goalie is in excellent form
3. October 2017 ob 22:31
Ljubljana - MMC RTV SLO

The Slovenian national football team is set to square off against England in a World Cup qualifier on Thursday. One of Slovenia’s best players is Atletico Madrid’s goalie, Jan Oblak.

The 24-year-old goalkeeper has been in great form this season. He kept the sheets clean this past weekend at Leganes, but his team failed to score a goal. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Slovenia is currently third in Group F, one point behind second-placed Slovakia. Slovenia can still qualify for the playoffs, but that looks like a tall order against England and Scotland. Oblak said he is aware that Thursday’s match at Wembley Stadium won’t be a walk in the park, but he stressed that “it will be a match like any other”. MMC sat down for an interview with the world-famous footballer.

You were still in Spain on Saturday, and the referendum on Catalan independence took place on Sunday. Give us your thoughts on the events in Catalonia. I assume you have friends in Barcelona.

I haven’t noticed anything unusual in Madrid. There were tensions in Barcelona, but I haven’t seen anything similar in Madrid.
Have you talked about the referendum in your club? Some Catalan players said they would quit the Spanish national side.
No, we haven’t really talked about it. We had a match on Saturday, but we didn’t talk on Sunday.

Saturday was a special day for you. You put on a great performance, and the whole of Europe marvelled at it. You’re still in excellent form. Do you agree?
I’m afraid Saturday wasn’t a special day for me because we didn’t win. However, I do feel great, I’ve been feeling great for a while now. I know I can always improve and get stronger. I haven’t reached peak form yet, and there’s always room for improvement. I’m happy with my performance, and I hope the season ends the way it started.

Do you think your club could do better? I don’t think everything has gone according to plan for you. You said before the season that now is the time for Atletico to shine.
Yes, of course we want to do better. We were doing pretty ok, right up until last week, but things can go south pretty quickly. We lost one Champions League match and then we drew in the Primera Division. Things can change pretty quickly. It’s hard to say, really. I think we’ve had a pretty good season. We’re doing well in the Primera Division, but we tripped up against Chelsea. However, there are still many matches to go in the Champions League, and we believe we can still make the playoffs.

You’re leaving for London. Have you been thinking about the match against England a lot? I’m sure your teammates will try to put up a good performance against England. What are your thoughts on the match?
I don’t think this match will be different, it will be a match like any other. To reach the playoffs, we need to beat both England and Scotland. That’s a tall order, but I’m an optimist. I’ve always been an optimist, and I will always remain an optimist. Against England, we will play without any added pressure. We know we can play football. I hope we get the three points and I hope we can still reach the playoffs.

If there’s one thing you hate, it’s losing. I saw that in your match against Slovakia. You don’t really take kindly to losing, do you?
Every top-level athlete hates losing. Losses are something you need to learn to accept, but the fewer losses the better. I don’t want to lose in England, I want us to beat England on their home turf. We know it will be difficult, but nothing is impossible in football. We still hope for the best.

M. L., Anže Bašelj, TV Slovenia; translated by D. V.