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Hütter: "Defend as a unit"

Head coach Adi Hütter and sporting director Max Eberl spoke to the press ahead of Saturday evening’s Bundesliga home game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. We have summed up the key questions from today’s press conference.

Head coach Adi Hütter on…

…the squad: We have four intense sessions behind us, which is why a few players trained individually today. Yann Sommer picked up a knock against Bayern, which is why we have been a bit cautious with him. He returned to training today. He should be fine for Saturday. Christoph Kramer was ill and spent a few days at home. He returned to training today. I’m assuming that he will be an option for Saturday.

…the current sporting situation: Few people thought that we were capable of winning in Munich. I feel as though it gave the team an extra shot of confidence. I’m a positive person, who always sees the glass as being half full. We are still in dangerous territory near the bottom, but I’m convinced by the team and our potential, which is why we should focus on what’s ahead. If we get into a good run, then we will be able to make things right. We will need to see that we build on our performance against Bayern.

…new signing Marvin Friedrich: Marvin Friedrich is a player that has undergone a strong development over the last years and played a big part in Union’s promotion to the Bundesliga. We are glad that he’s here. He’s in the rhythm of things and has played a lot of games for Union, which is why he is also an option for Saturday.

…Florian Neuhaus’ rise in form: Over the break, Flo said that he will do everything in order to get his form back. I think that also has to do with the position he plays. I prefer it when he plays as a number 10, because I don’t see him as being a typical defensive midfielder. In attacking midfield, he has the ability to play that final pass and is strong on the ball, very creative and intelligent. He has also proven in past weeks that he can score goals.

… Marcus Thuram’s form: I think that Tikus’ injury was a setback for him. He was also a bit ill when he returned from holiday and wasn’t able to take part in everything. Despite all that, he’s still on the right path, is working hard in training and was rested today in order to manage his workload. I hope that he will be a strong presence on Saturday, and that he will find his form again. That would be good for everyone.

…the upcoming opponent: Bayer Leverkusen are a side with similarities to Bayern. They have a real goalscoring threat up top in Schick, who can also win the ball. Around him, they have several fast players like Diaby, Wirtz and Bellarabi. Frimpong is also a dynamic presence on the right. We will have to try to keep that contained. I hope the team will bring the momentum from the Bayern game with them, including the willingness to run hard, because we will need that again on the weekend.

…defending against Leverkusen’s pace: We will need to work as a team. If we’re not able to deal with their pace, then we will need to switch over quickly. That means, if we’re unable to counter-press, that we try to get back behind the ball as quickly as possible. We will only be able to close down a player like Wirtz or Diaby, with their pace and dribbling skills, if we defend as a unit. If we make it easy for them to win the ball and give them the space to counter, then they have a excellent target man in Schick, who is also a strong finisher.

…the 4-0 loss earlier this season: We haven’t forgotten that game. The serious injuries to Marcus Thuram and Stevie Lainer really hurt us, as did the result. We were maybe a bit too confident in ourselves after the way we opened the season against Bayern. Leverkusen brought us crashing back to reality in this game. I don’t expect that that will happen again.

Sporting director Max Eberl on…

…the rumours around Denis Zakaria and Matthias Ginter: It’s not surprising that there’s a lot of speculation around Denis Zakaria and Matthias Ginter at the moment. However, there haven’t been any concrete offers made for either of them. From our side, we know where things stand with them. Both are currently our players, and still have six months left on their contracts. However, we have always said that, if we were to receive a substantial financial offer over the winter that we wouldn’t rule out them leaving the club.

…signing Marvin Friedrich: Things started moving, to the point where we were able to agree to a transfer with Union Berlin now. We had to find the funds to do it, but in the summer we would have had to sign a centre-back anyways. In that way, it’s a signing we made with an eye on the upcoming season. Marvin is a very strong defender and of a good age, and he’s familiar with a back-three. He communicates a lot and gives instructions, which is what we need. He is also a strong presence in the air, and can pose a threat in front of goal.

…Marcus Thuram’s current form: Tikus was an important player for us prior to his injury. He has struggled for fitness this season, which is why he hasn’t been able to find his normal rhythm yet this season. However, there were some moments towards the end of the first half of the season where he was able to showcase his quality. Tikus really wants to play and might look a bit ticked off when he’s on the bench. Nonetheless, he identifies fully with the club. That’s why I couldn’t understand the criticism leveled his way recently.

…the current spectator limits: We always have understanding for the decisions of politicians. Finding the right way to deal with Omicron is definitely not easy. I also don’t pretend that I would make the right choices. The footballing world has accepted this, and we will continue to do so. Despite everything, we have seen that stadiums aren’t dangerous, so I wish we would be a bit more courageous in sport and allow more spectators.

…the upcoming opponent: I have a lot of respect for Bayer Leverkusen. As a club, they have been consistently playing at a high level for more than 25 years. That does make you a bit jealous at times. Based on their potential, Bayer Leverkusen could be one to challenge FC Bayern, if they manage to consistently play well over a whole season. It’s difficult to say why that hasn’t happened, and I’m too far removed to say. But, they are an opponent with a lot of quality, and I don’t enjoy facing them.


Head coach Adi Hütter.
Nearly a dozen journalists attended the press conference.
Sporting director Max Eberl.

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