In a virtual press conference ahead of the home game against Bayer 04 Leverkusen, head coach Marco Rose spoke about…
…the squad: Fabian Johnson (muscular problems) and Denis Zakaria (knee operation) will definitely miss out. Ramy Bensebaini is wearing a hand splint, after injuring it in training. Marcus has a cut on his arm, but has trained this week.
…the importance of the game:We can read the table. Leverkusen are only two points behind us, and we're also aware that it's a derby. We've donereally well in derbies this season, so hopefully we can win them all.
…the opponents:We have fond memories of the reverse fixture, but we'll still need a strong performance against Leverkusen. We analysed their game aginst Bremen. They play with a similar intensity to us when they don't have the ball. They are really strong with their Gegenpressing and do a lot of running. That does create spaces though. They like to dominate with the ball and they play at a high tempo, which we need to disrupt. We need to have the ball and the control ourselves. We need to stay compact and be strong at the back.
…Leverkusen's Kai Havertz:We should be glad that we have a young player like Kai here in the Bundesliga and hopefully in the national team too. He has so much quality and he was worked on his strong physique too. He is dynamic and dangerous in the air. Despite this, we will not focus on one player. We don't want to take a player out of the game. We know his strengths and we want to defend him well.
…Ramy Bensebaini:Ramy got an assist and a goal in Frankfurt, which obviously speaks for itself. He's coming to the end of Ramadan, so his diet is obviously slightly different. Our dietician is doing some good work with him though. We'll have to see if he plays on Saturday, but there's another game on Tuesday. We will need to rotate at some point for sure.
…László Bénes:Lazi has trained hard recently. He has noticed how strong the competition for places has become since the winter break. It's obviously not easy for a young player when you play consistently well in the Hinrunde, but injured players come back into the team and you lose a bit of confidence and form. I think Lazi has a learnt a lot in the last six months or so. He is looking good and the competition for places in his position isn't as big right now, with Denis Zakaria out for a while now. I can't make any promises, but I thinkBéneswill get some game time over the coming weeks and then he can prove himself. He's worked hard on his weaknesses: his anticipation, his tackling and his agresssion without the ball. I think he will help us this season.
…the current situation:I'm still optimistic that we will be able to finish the season. We all know what is required of us now. The league has developed a strong concept. We are able to play thanks to the government and things went well on the first matchday. I think there will be little things that we will need to change in coming weeks. There could still be further cases of coronavirus in football, but I think we're all well prepared for that. I have a lot faith in the concept and I think we'll finish the season.
…the missing fans:We would feel much more at home agianst Leverkusen if our fans were there. Nevertheless, we need to accept the situation for what it is. Leverkusen played really well at Bremen. I think all sides have got used to it now. The first matchday after the break was very good, although we will all be happier when the fans are back in the stadium.
…the cardboard cutout fans:Even though the cardboard cutouts can't replace the real fans, it's still a cool idea, which is for a great cause. I think it's a funny idea and we've all laughed about it. I'm located next to Alassane Plea in the Nordkurve right behind the goal, which is where our most loyal fans normally are.