Raul Bobadilla: Argentina born, Augsburg bred
Raul Bobadilla is one of the Bundesliga’s many special characters and the Argentina-born Paraguay international has made himself an indispensable cornerstone of the Augsburg team. Ahead of the visit to Bayern Munich for Saturday's Bavarian derby, he spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com about Die Fuggerstädter’s chances against the record champions, the relegation battle and the significance of the Bundesliga in South America.
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bundesliga.com: Has the international break given you the chance to return to fitness for the game at Bayern?
Raúl Bobadilla: I think so. I still have some pain but everything should be in order come Saturday.
bundesliga.com: How do you approach a game against a team that’s scored 32 goals in their last ten matches?
Bobadilla: I think you can already say we’re playing against the new champions. We don’t need to talk about the quality in their team but we are going to Munich with hope that we can get something from the game there. People shouldn’t forget that we’ve already won in Munich recently [Bobadilla scored the only goal of the game on Matchday 32 in the 2014/15 season]. So, we want to leave there with at least a point.
bundesliga.com: Augsburg are one of four teams currently on 29 points and just three ahead of the relegation play-off place. Do you feel some pressure at the moment?
Bobadilla: It goes without saying things are tight in the table right now but the teams towards the bottom still have to play each other. We know that we can get the required amount of points to ensure our safety in the remaining eight weeks. There’s a certain pressure there, but it’s nothing we can’t deal with. I firmly believe in our team and am convinced that we can achieve our goals – as we’ve always done.
bundesliga.com: An Augsburg newspaper has compared your aura with Jake LaMotta, the Bronx Bull portrayed by Robert de Niro in Raging Bull. The author sees you as the saviour of Augsburg…
Bobadilla: Of course such a comparison is pleasing and high praise. I know I can help the team when I’m fit, and I’ll always give my all for this team and this club.
bundesliga.com: Back to the game in Munich, you come up against an array of fellow South Americans such as Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa. Are you looking forward to that or are national rivalries greater than the joy?
Bobadilla: No, I’m looking forward to this match and to playing against Bayern’s squad, whether they’re from South America or not. They are some of the best players in the world and being able to play alongside them is a real privilege and a great thing for any footballer. National rivalries play no part in that!
Watch: Bobadilla's last-gasp winner in Augsburg's 3-2 win over Werder Bremen on Matchday 19.
bundesliga.com: Of course that’s different when it comes to World Cup qualification. Will we soon see you featuring again for Paraguay?
Bobadilla: I haven’t heard anything from the Paraguayan FA or the coach recently. On one hand, it saves me from the long, energy-sapping journey to and from South America, which means I can concentrate on the important games with Augsburg. On the other, I’ll always be willing to help my country when needed. It’d be great if Paraguay qualified for the 2018 World Cup in Russia and I could maybe be a part of that. I still fondly remember the 2015 Copa America when I played in every game for Paraguay. It was a really great experience.
bundesliga.com: You were born in Argentina but play for Paraguay and have played in Switzerland and Greece as well as the Bundesliga. How do you see the Bundesliga in comparison to other leagues and how is the Bundesliga seen in South America?
Bobadilla: For me and many fans in South America, the Bundesliga is the best league in the world and I’m proud to be able to play in this league. Literally everyone in South America watches the Bundesliga because you can follow the games live there. My parents watch every Augsburg match.
bundesliga.com: Despite a number of injuries, you’ve had an impressive season. That seems to be a stroke of luck for both FC Augsburg and Raul Bobadilla…
Bobadilla: I absolutely made the right decision to move to Augsburg in 2013. The four years since then have been the best of my career. I’ve always been able to show what I can really do with Augsburg, which is something I’ve never really been able to do at previous clubs. I’ve had some great experiences with Augsburg, like playing in the Europa League last season. That was amazing! Now it’s about being strong and fighting because I want to be in the Bundesliga with Augsburg again next season.
bundesliga.com: Despite what we’re assuming was a very lucrative offer from China, you chose to extend your deal with Augsburg until 2020. Your commitment to FCA and the Bundesliga could hardly be more impressive…
Bobadilla: Being honest, I did have to think for a moment about such an offer. I also have to think about my family’s future. There was a lot of money involved and that would’ve been the only plausible reason to leave Augsburg. In the end, it wasn’t a tough decision to extend my contract until 2020. I feel on top of the world in Augsburg, and that’s what matters most.
bundesliga.com: Roque Santa Cruz, Nelson Haedo Valdez, Lucas Barrios, Dario Lezcano and, of course, you are part of the history of Paraguayans in the Bundesliga. Are there any promising young players or international teammates who you think could have a career in the Bundesliga?
Bobadilla: It doesn’t make much sense to name individual players because, in reality, everyone would like to play in the Bundesliga. But my fellow Paraguayans have to know that it’s not easy to make it here. It goes without saying that many of them have the right footballing skills to make it to the Bundesliga but it’s a new culture and a new mentality. These are so different from those in Argentina and Paraguay, and that’s where the real challenge lies. I had to go through this myself and had a tough time until I really got used to everything.
bundesliga.com: What advice would you give to any of your compatriots moving to the Bundesliga?
Bobadilla: Everyone has to know that footballing quality is not enough on its own. You have to be mentally strong to make it in the Bundesliga. Many people have to leave their family and friends behind when they move to Germany, and that’s anything but easy at the start. I personally struggled at first with the right professionalism at Borussia Mönchengladbach. I learned over the years what it means to be a professional footballer in the Bundesliga. Now I’m proud to say that I’ve managed to have properly arrived in the Bundesliga!