UEFA.com spoke with Spain Under-21 international defender Juan Bernat about his club's difficult start to the current domestic campaign and the Spanish side's UEFA Europa League campaign, where they face FC Dynamo Kyiv in the round of 32 in February.
UEFA.com: Why have Valencia been finding it so difficult to get a good run of results going in Liga this season?
Juan Bernat: The truth is that we haven't started the campaign as we would have liked to. It's costing us a lot of effort trying to get that regularity going in our play. That said, we are a team that is capable of turning things around and I firmly believe we will do so. We need to be patient.
UEFA.com: Valencia's best results appear to be coming in the UEFA Europa League. Is that the club's priority now?
Bernat: We are doing very well in the UEFA Europa League. Apart from the opening game at home to Swansea City [AFC which Valencia lost 3-0], we have been giving a good account of ourselves. We have a lot of hope in the competition and, fingers crossed, we can go on and win it. We will be taking things step by step, though. What we want to try to do is perform well in every game and to do the best we can. The goal will be to transfer that positive dynamic from the Europa League to the Liga.
UEFA.com: Do you feel comfortable at left-back for Spain's Under-21s giving that you started your career as a winger?
Bernat: Yes, I'm really happy. It's true that this is a new position for me. I thought it would have taken me longer to adapt but I really like playing there. Perhaps there are things I need to improve upon but the coach Julen Lopetegui is counting on me a lot. For that, I thank him. I am young and will get better in certain aspects. We are very close to qualifying for the [2015 UEFA European Under-21 Championship] play-offs so we need to continue along the good path we are currently on.
UEFA.com: You have been compared with ex-Valencia defender and current FC Barcelona star Jordi Alba. How do you feel about that?
Bernat: A lot of people say we are similar players, especially because just like him I changed position from winger to full-back. Here's hoping I can achieve even half the success he has to date. He is the undisputed left-back with Spain with whom he won UEFA EURO 2012. I met him here at Valencia and get on really well with him. I regularly talk to him and he helps me a lot with his advice. He's certainly someone I look up to.
UEFA.com: On reflection, how was 2013 for you?
Bernat: I didn't have as much on-field playing time as I would have liked but that will always be a tricky thing with Valencia. With the national side, I remember the FIFA Under-20 World Cup, even though we were knocked out in the quarter-finals. Now we are at the end of the year, I have to say that I am very happy in general.
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