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Bensebaini: “Europe is our aim”

Left-back Ramy Bensebaini gives an interview in which he discusses playing in front of empty stands, the upcoming game against Stuttgart, the Foals’ quarantine training camp and the end of Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting.

Ramy, we play VfB Stuttgart on Saturday in the penultimate game of the season. How does it feel to have played an entire season without fans?

Bensebaini: In the beginning it really was an extreme change. We weren’t used to it. Over time, you get to know the feeling of playing in an empty stadium, but it still isn’t nice. You just always miss the atmosphere the fans bring. I hope that we are able to get fans back in stadiums as soon as possible.

How have you dissected the latest defeat against Bayern? How is the team’s mood?

Bensebaini: It was a really bitter defeat and a difficult game in Munich. But there is a completely different match ahead of us this weekend. We are preparing rigorously for it and obviously we want to come away victorious.

There can’t be any more slip-ups if we are to finish at least seventh. How are you dealing with that going into the Stuttgart match?

Bensebaini: It definitely won’t be an easy game. Stuttgart have great quality both in attack and in defence. It’s definitely a positive for us that we are playing at home; we have been able to celebrate some convincing wins at BORUSSIA-PARK recently. We will give everything to get three points again.

VfB are just four points behind us. What kind of game do you expect on Saturday?

Bensebaini: I suspect that Stuttgart will try and be solid at the back and then play out with pace on the counter. But I’m not the coach – he will analyse the opposition and give us a good plan to follow.

For Borussia it remains to be seen whether this is a truly successful season or not – it all hinges on the last two games…

Bensebaini: It’s been a complicated season so far and there have been lots of reasons for that. There’s been the coronavirus crisis, plus injuries and absences due to infections like mine. The fans have been missing too. Last season, things ran much smoother. That goes for me personally as well. Our aim is now quite clearly qualifying for Europe. We had a good season in the Champions League but unfortunately we haven’t been able to qualify for it again this season. That’s a shame. It means that we’re even more motivated ahead of our last two games to prove that we still belong in European competition next season.

You move into the hotel today and will have something of a training camp until the end of the season. As players, are you looking forward to spending such an intense period of time with the lads? Or is it something you simply have to get through?

Bensebaini: We are actually trapped together the whole time anyway (laughs). It’s not like we are all going to enjoy this quarantine training camp. It’s just one of those things that you have to do. But I understand and support this measure, which should ensure that we can play our last two matches without coronavirus complications. But obviously all the players would probably prefer to be at home with their families. Nevertheless, we are professionals and we have to pull through. A big advantage of being here at BORUSSIA-PARK is that you can easily get from your room to training or to dinner. That’s perfect for us.

It’s a pretty special time for you because Ramadan ends on Wednesday. As a Muslim, how have you found Ramadan in the time of the coronavirus?

Bensebaini: This Ramadan was a bit more complicated than usual because there are lots of rules that have to be observed. For me as an athlete, it wasn’t so easy because you always have to eat late and go to bed late. That means that you are already a bit tired at training in the morning. But it is something I happily accept as a Muslim.

Ramadan ends this evening with the festival of breaking the fast. Is that something that you will be able to celebrate a little with Ibo in quarantine?

Bensebaini: Yeah, maybe we’ll have a small festival in our rooms (laughs). No, joking aside – the family coming together to celebrate is something that we will miss this year, of course.


Ramy Bensebaini

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