The winter break is over! The Bulls begin the new year as league leaders ahead of the clash against Union Berlin at home. Julian Nagelsmann's team will be hoping to hit the ground running and defend the top spot.
Julian Nagelsmann spoke to the press about being top of the league, the next half of the season, his squad availability and Diego Demme's departure.
Julian Nagelsmann on...
- "There are no surprises to announce. Kevin Kampl, Ibrahima Konaté and Willi Orban remain sidelined. Some players were struck by illness recently. Emil Forsberg has not been able to train with the team because of it - he has a terrible cold and is on antibiotics. Everyone else should be fine to play, though. Lukas Klostermann sat out Wednesday's session but is an option for Saturday. Matheus Cunha is away on international duty."
...preparations for the second half of the season:
- "I'm pleased with how we've prepared. We've practised a lot of scenarios and analysed a few games from the first half of the season. The guys have really thrown themselves into training and didn't a lot of time to get back into the swing of things after the winter break. We've had sessions with power, panache and fun. Yesterday, we played the best 11 v 11 I've seen since I took charge."
- "We have just as much respect for Union Berlin as we did before our game earlier in the season. They've stabilised and they're no slouches. They don't give away many chances, they're physical, well-structured at the back and have a clear plan going forward. Their team is full of players who are good in the air and who like to get in the box. That's tough to defend against. It's an important game - not just because points are at stake but because we want to show we've not been held back by the winter break. We want to show everyone that we're ready to fight for a top four spot."
- "We aren't necessarily in need of new additions. We're a bit thin on the ground when it comes to centre-backs but we just have to see what the market is offering and think about what makes sense for us.
Stefan Ilsanker is staying for now. If we find an adequate replacement then we can have a discussion but we haven't found one yet."
...Diego Demme's departure:
- "Diego Demme is a player with a lot of experience and great mentality. He always pushed himself to the limit for us. He's been an influentional figure for the club. It wasn't about the financial side - we wanted to let him follow his dream! Chances like that don't come along too often in life, so I'm happy for him, even though it's a loss for us."
+++ Team News +++
- Willi Orban, Kevin Kampl and Ibrahima Konaté are still out.
- Matheus Cunha is on international duty.
- Emil Forsberg is likely to miss the game due to illness.