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Feature: Bacuna on Liverpool, WBA, goals and top-flight tempo
Leandro Bacuna tells Rob Bishop that scoring comes second to becoming a claret-and-blue fixture.
15th Jan 2014
Feature: Bacuna on Liverpool, WBA, goals and top-flight tempo


Bishop

Home supporters looking for a cheeky bet before the Villa-Albion derby later this month would do worse than back Leandro Bacuna for the first goal.

Our two Barclays Premier League successes so far this season have a common denominator - Bacuna has scored on each occasion.

The versatile 22-year-old Dutchman delivered a superb free-kick for Villa's second in the 3-2 success against Manchester City, and repeated the feat when Cardiff City were beaten 2-0.

"It's nice to think we have won when I've scored, and it's a good record to have," he says.

"My first goal in the Premier League really gave me a lift. It was like a dream - really, really special.

"My second one was important, too, and it would be good to score a few more. But what really matters is that we keep going and get some points.

"I'm just trying to do my best for the team and if I can score a few more I will delighted. It won't happen every week but it's always good to score at important times."

The business of putting the ball in the net is nothing new to the player who joined us last summer.

He was on target 17 times for his former club Groningen although, in fairness, he was the team's penalty-taker.

He has also revealed that on the day before a game he always practises shooting, either with or without a keeper between the posts.

While scoring inevitably gives him a great deal of satisfaction, though, he takes greater pride in having established himself as a Villa regular after a hesitant start.

"In the beginning I had some tough times because of the difference between Dutch and English football," he admits.

"It's more physical here and the tempo is much higher. I've had to adjust to the Premier League but it's going well now.

"The supporters here are much more passionate, too. The fans care in Holland but supporters here really feel part of the club. If they lose, they have a really bad weekend, which makes us all the more determined to win games and make them happy."

Bacuna

Bacuna has also been helped by the fact that the Villa squad includes two of his fellow countrymen, Karim El Ahmadi and skipper Ron Vlaar, although he insists he hasn't been over-reliant on their support.

"It's good to have someone with whom you can speak your own language," he acknowledges.

"But in football you will always make friends when you join a new club. I can speak English so that helps and I also used to practise speaking Spanish with Antonio Luna. But Antonio is trying to learn English at the moment so he's concentrating on that!"

Although he is essentially a right-sided midfielder, Bacuna has also stood in at right-back since joining Villa, most recently in last week's third round FA Cup-tie against Sheffield United, when a pre-match injury to Nathan Baker meant a hasty reshuffle, with Matt Lowton moving to central defence and Leandro switching to the full-back role.

"I'm really more of an attacking player, but at the moment I'm focussing on full-back because I've been doing well there. What I want is to play a lot of games and then see what happens.

"I'm used to playing at the back because I did it a lot in Holland. It's not as if I'm going to be confused; in some games I've played in both positions. In fact I've played everywhere except in goal go I have good positional sense."

Bacuna

Now he is looking forward to facing the Baggies, although Saturday's visit to Liverpool is the one at the forefront of his mind.

"I've never played at Anfield," he says.

"But I'm told the atmosphere is amazing so that will be another new experience for me. It's a tough time but also a nice time. I just want to keep on doing what I've been doing so far."

In an ideal world, Bacuna would go on to earn a place in the Holland squad for next summer's World Cup finals in Brazil.

Despite having played 10 times for the under-21s, however, he is not pinning his hopes on breaking into one of the most powerful squads in world football.

"I'm not focussing on that," he says.

"If it happens, it happens. Holland have a very good team so I'm just thinking about doing well for Aston Villa. But you never know..."

Snap up match tickets for Villa v West Brom.


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