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Luis Milla: “Sometimes you find the solution by staying still”

“I have not stopped. I have been through many quarries, I have jogged many times, and I am very proud of the footballer that I am now, “says Luis Milla, the Granada midfielder who today receives Atlético in Los Cármenes (7:00 p.m., Movistar).

“Luis has been a geek since he was a child,” says his father, Luis Milla, a former midfielder for Barça, Madrid and Valencia. “At the age of five he insisted on entering the Valencia school, where the age limit was the six years of the cherubs. We went to talk to the director of football seven and he told me: 'we are going to put him in the same way'. We had to put safety pins on him so that his pants wouldn't fall off. And let's play! ”.

There are two kinds of footballers. Those who seem satisfied with their condition, serene in their certainties, strolling leisurely through the fields waiting for someone to give them the ball; and those who run desperate to receive a pass and squeeze every minute of life with their boots on. The former tend to coincide with types of easy biological development and good propaganda. The latter, with less-than-athletic phenotypes and steep slopes in harsh environments. Not because he was the son of a great player, the little Milla enjoyed the understanding of his youth coaches.

“Luis”, remembers his father, “always had problems because his physical development was two years behind. When he was a child he looked like a fry, when he was a cadet he looked like a child. That is why it has had the problems that it has had everywhere. In the big clubs, the short term is looked at, not the long term. He was at Valencia, Madrid, Atlético, and they didn't want him anywhere. Until he turned 18 it was terrible to see that they did not like him because he had been physically behind for a while and in their clubs they asked him to compete at the highest level since childhood “.

The story of little Milla, who did not reach the First Division until he was signed by Granada in 2020, at the age of 25, explains his character as a tireless midfielder. “Sometimes he may run too far to catch the ball,” he says. “I have discussed it with some coaches. I always say that I prefer to run more and not less. I understand that sometimes such a career is not necessary. But I like to be in control of what happens in the games and that with the ball is easier. That is why I like to participate a lot, and that is why I try to support my colleagues and give them a solution whenever I see them tight. What happens is that sometimes you find the solution by staying still, or even moving away from the ball. With the passage of time I have been able to control the impulse to help because sometimes wanting to help you complicate the life of your colleagues. ”

You move to have more time to think and to shape yourself well before receiving. But sometimes that movement brings you closer to an opponent, or you bring opponents closer to your teammates

“You move to get away from the pressure,” he explains. “That move gives you the option of having more time to think and to shape yourself well. But sometimes that movement brings you closer to an opponent, or you bring opponents closer to your teammates. ”

The young Milla forces us to consider the existence of two branches in the family of central midfielders: those that move towards warm areas asking for the ball at the foot and those that move directly towards the opposing pressure nodules. He belongs to the second species. Proof of this is his condition of being punished. Milla is the Granada player who causes the most fouls per minute played. “When you ask for the ball you always force the opponent to react,” he observes. “When you want to have the initiative to have the ball you need everyone to move. And there are unchecks that have to be in support. But the most important are to space, because those are the ones that generate problems in the opposing team and give the possibility that another teammate can receive without so much pressure. You don't always have to move expecting to get the ball. For rival defenses it is much easier to defend those who receive the foot. I have not been from Barça, but watching Iniesta and Xavi play excited me. They were the references, but they needed the unchecking of Jordi Alba breaking into space. That means that you can receive the ball from the inside ”.

Inclined to move upwards, Milla knows how to loosen rival defenses by taking advantage of the corridors that open between his nine and their ends. “When you make a break-out from the second line,” he observes, “you force the defenders to make decisions: follow you, move, defend that movement… and that generates that the attackers receive in intermediate zones. You see it in Liverpool when Firmino goes down and the interiors go up to attacking positions. That raises doubts: if your rivals follow your uncheck they will leave a space for your striker, if not, they will leave you hand in hand with the defender ”.

“We would all like to play like Barça played all our lives,” he says. “But the rivals are very good and they counteract you. The good thing about Granada is that we adapt very well to all circumstances. I try to adapt because in each game there are many very different circumstances and you have to serve all of them. That, in the end, is what makes you able to play ”.

Thanks to the fortune that his father made, Luis Milla was able to live a comfortable youth outside of football. He chose the fight. They rejected it. At the age of 20, he broke the cruciate ligaments in his right knee. He recovered. He triumphed in Second and is now the engine of Granada. “Since I was little I wanted to be a professional,” he says. “The injury changed my lifestyle. I learned to continue preparing once the training was over. It made me appreciate every day that you can train and play. Based on stones, you learn. ”

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