Angelino has been one of the standout players for Domenico Tedesco’s side RB Leipzig this season. In this interview, the 25-year-old Spaniard talks about his team’s improved performance under the new coach, what makes Christopher Nkunku such a special player for Leipzig, and the team’s strategy when it comes to finishing the season with silverware.
RB Leipzig are currently the best team in the second half of the season. Comparing the first half of the season with your current situation, how do your emotions differ? What is different now?
It’s a big difference. You can’t compare the style we are playing now with the first six months, it’s black and white.
Talking about your new coach Tedesco. What does he do differently? What was his first locker room speech like?
We enjoy having the ball more. We focus a lot on ball possession, something that we weren’t focussing on before. He brought this vibe to the team; we have positivity again. I can speak for everybody; it was great that he came.
How did he pick you up on a human level? What was his first speech like?
It was straight to business. He arrived one or two games before the Christmas break, we couldn’t do much, we didn’t have time to work together. He knew the quality that the team has and just told us to go on the pitch and enjoy and we’ll work from January. Enjoy having the ball again and dominate the game with the ball.
How does he see your role in the team? What does he value in your game?
In the first six months, we played football that didn’t suit most of the players. We enjoy having the ball, we have a lot of quality in the squad and the strength is with the ball, everybody is happy when we have most of the possession, and that’s the important thing.
There are still a few titles possible for you this season. What are your chances in the Cup? And in the Championship?
We are still there. We have a tough game in the Europa League against Atalanta. It won’t be an easy game, but we are in a good mood, everybody is happy, and we have a big chance this year to achieve something great. Obviously, the first title would be amazing, and we are going to work really hard for it. We have a big chance this year.
There is a lot at stake in the game against BVB this season. How much are you looking forward to the game? And what are your biggest assets?
It’s always a fun match to play in. It will be tough, they will have a full stadium on Saturday so there will be a great atmosphere, that’s for sure. It will be a big boost for them. We will try to work hard during the week to put in a good performance and hopefully take three points at the weekend.
The south stand, the so-called ‘Yellow Wall’, will be back and the stadium will be full of fans. What kind of atmosphere do you expect and how will that affect the game?
We have to play our game in every stadium. Of course, the fans play a big role in matches. But we have to stay focused, and try to do our thing, and hopefully get a good result.
You will also have to defend against Haaland. How do you adjust to a player like him, as a defender?
I’m preparing my voice to hopefully shout at Willi Orbán and Josko Gvardiol to catch him! I will leave the job to them; they are stronger and faster than me, so I will prepare my voice to coach them.
Nkunku continues to blossom this season. What makes him stand out to you and how important is he to the team?
He’s massive for us, and he’s on fire this year. When he’s near the box, every ball he touches is an assist or a goal. It’s incredible for us to have him here. Hopefully he can keep helping the team in the last part of the season.
What relationship do you have with your shirt number? Would you prefer a number that is more typical for an attacking player?
First of all, I’m a defender. I just play forward! I like the three for Roberto Carlos, obviously. I wore six at PSV. If I could choose, I would take three or 69, that was the number I made my debut in.
Which Bundesliga stadium do you like playing in the most?
Schalke, because I have played there twice and I scored twice, so I like Schalke’s stadium.
Who has been your toughest opponent in the Bundesliga?
There are many extremely fast players in the Bundesliga. They run too much – they need to calm down! They are too fast for a Spanish player like me. If I had to name someone, I would say Sané, he’s a particularly difficult player to defend against.
The team must have a WhatsApp group. Who spams the most? Who is the most fun?
I would have to say Nordi Mukiele, because when he writes, it’s in the wrong chat, he messes up every time with the wrong chat, so I would say Nordi.