During this afternoon’s press conference ahead of Sunday’s Bundesliga away game at RB Leipzig (15:30 CET), head coach Dieter Hecking talked about…
…losing Matthias Ginter to injury: It’s obviously a blow because Matze has had such a fantastic season for us. He’s been a big factor in our defensive stability, but we’ll be without him until Christmas, so we have to deal with it. We need to replace him both in terms of his footballing ability and his character. It’s no surprise that Tony Jantschke comes to mind first, not only because he’s our third-choice centre back, but also because he has played well when given his chance; he hasn’t disappointed in his eight appearances so far and does his job superbly. So Tony is the leading candidate to fill the gap, but there are other players who are capable as well. After all, you should always have a plan B and C up your sleeve.
…Jonas Hofmann being sidelined: I would really have liked to have had Jonas on board in Leipzig, but injuries happen. We can’t say how long he’ll be out for yet, but I think he should be back before Christmas. I’m not sure if he’ll be ready for the next home game against Stuttgart. It depends on how quickly he can get back running again.
…a possible start for Denis Zakaria: Denis is of course one option. He’s someone that’s always good to have on the pitch – we only haven’t been starting him lately because Jonas Hofmann and Florian Neuhaus have been playing so well. Denis showed when he came on both in Bremen and against Hannover why he’s very close to the starting XI, the only problem is that I have a number of players for that position. Lars Stindl had a lot more of the ball and was more involved in the play against Hannover after moving him into that midfield role, while Michaël Cuisance and László Bénes are also pushing for a place in the team, and I would trust both of them to start in Leipzig too.
…a possible January signing: I’m assuming that Matthias Ginter will be back on board after the winter break, so there’s nothing forcing us to look at the transfer market. As well as Matthias Ginter, Nico Elvedi and Tony Jantschke, we also have Jordan Beyer as an option at centre back. His lost his rhythm a little through his injury, but he’s back at a good level again now and I really rate him. He showed just what he’s capable of earlier in the season, and I would have no qualms throwing him back in the mix again now. We also have a defensive all-rounder in Tobias Strobl, so there’s no need for us to think about signing anyone right now.
…Borussia being labelled a top side: When you’re second in the table after twelve games, then it’s only natural for you to be seen as a top side. And it’s important to me that we’re being called a top team at the moment, because we are playing good, successful football right now. The fans should enjoy it and are allowed to dream big, but we need to keep grounded and take each game as it comes. As far as I’m concerned, Dortmund are the clear favourites if they keep on playing the same way. Bayern will bounce back too. They got a big win on Tuesday already and I still consider them much better than us. Our job is to prove – week by week – that we’re here to stay and that we want to carry on being a top side. If we can keep this up until the end of the season, it will be a tremendous one. There’s a long way to go until then though. We will be given a real test on Sunday in Leipzig, but we will take the challenge on full of confidence.
…the upcoming opponents: Leipzig have defended very well so far this season and haven’t conceded many goals at all. They have quick attackers so carry a real threat on the counter and can press to good effect. We will need to work the ball around well, much like we have done in recent weeks, so hopefully we can do it again in Leipzig. I don’t think you can take much from Thursday’s Europa League game in Salzburg. Ralf Rangnick has said that their focus is on the Bundesliga, and I genuinely believe that that’s the case. I’m expecting Sabitzer, Demme and Kampl all to return and that they will have their strongest team out on the pitch.