During his press conference ahead of Saturday’s home game against FC Augsburg, Dieter Hecking talked to the media about…
…squad news: Raffael, Mamadou Doucouré and Keanan Bennetts remain sidelined with injury. Thorgan Hazard has a bruised calf from the Leverkusen game and Denis Zakaria picked up a dead leg in training – both are doubts. They did some light training today, but we won’t make a decision until Friday. If Alassane Plea gets through training today without any problems, he should be fine to play on Saturday.
…Saturday’s opponents: I never expected Augsburg to be so low down in the table, but it just goes to show how tight the Bundesliga is. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be sitting in mid-table. They’ve had more good performances than a lot of the sides above them, but they have somehow failed to pick up enough points in those matches to have them sitting more comfortably. They were the better team against both Wolfsburg and Düsseldorf in recent matches, but lost both of them at the death. I can still remember just how tough our 1-1 draw in Augsburg was earlier this season, so we can’t just look at their results. We need to remember how tricky an opponent they’ve always been for us.
…positives from the Leverkusen game: We’re very hard to beat when we play with the mentality that we had in Leverkusen. We were right on the money tactically when it came to our defensive work too. I wasn’t happy with our play when we had the ball, as we gave it away too quickly. We need to be better than that on Saturday. We need to approach the one-on-one battles differently and hold on to the ball more effectively. We’re still finding ourselves, but we really want to make the win in Leverkusen count by getting three more points at home.
…Nico Elvedi’s development: Nico has huge potential and has taken another step this season. He’s very alert, he’s fast and he’s a very solid passer of the ball going forward. He played at right-back most of last season and did a very good job, but really he’s a centre-back. He’s been playing there again this season and after 18 matchdays, it’s safe to say that it was a good idea to move him back into the middle. He is playing with even more confidence and that rubs off on the team.