Valencia midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia says he will “try to put his emotions to one side” as he returns to his old club Sevilla for Saturday afternoon’s LaLiga clash.
After joining Sevilla in 2012 as a 19 year old from RC Lens, Kondogbia had an outstanding first season in LaLiga, impressing observers everywhere with his skill in possession and physical gifts.
After moving through Monaco and Inter Milan before joining Valencia last summer, the France international says visiting the Estadio Sanchez Pizjuan as an opposition player will be “special” personally and a tough test for his team.
“It’s not easy, obviously,” Kondogbia said. “I’m going to try to put my emotions to one side, and give my all for my current club. It will certainly be special for me. In footballing terms, it will be very tough because everyone knows how strong Sevilla are at home, but I hope we can get the win. That’s what we’ll be aiming for.”
Kondogbia said he was treated very well in the Andalusian capital, and made friends during his 12 month stay.
“I look back on that period very fondly,” he says. “I was only young and it was my first experience in a top European league. I’m very grateful to the club. I had a really good time there, was treated very kindly. I made friends both within football and outside the game.”
The now 25 year old has been outstanding for Valencia this season, and Los Che have taken 13 points from their last five LaLiga games to keep a secure hold on fourth position.
“The team are in really good shape,” he says. “We’re on a fine run: we got an important draw in Bilbao, we’d won the game before that [against Real Sociedad] and have now just beaten Real Betis. We’re feeling good and have built up momentum and confidence.”
Sevilla are currently eight points back, in fifth spot, having won four of their last five LaLiga fixtures.
“They’re a very dangerous team and one of the best in Spain,” Kondogbia says. “They are still in the race for Champions League qualification, and there’s a reason for that. We know they can be extremely dangerous, even more so on home turf. So we must prepare as well as possible.”
With Valencia coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, and Sevilla’s Argentina midfielder Ever Banega, also facing their former sides, Saturday’s game should provide excitement for LaLiga fans everywhere.
“It’s only natural that a clash between two of the league’s top clubs, direct rivals, serves up an enthralling spectacle,” says Kondogbia, born in the French town of Nemours to parents from the Central African Republic. “These matches are always great to play in and to watch. It’s definitely one of the biggest games in the division. LaLiga is one of the best leagues in the world, I hope I can keep performing to a high level here for as long as possible.”