Excitement is ramping up ahead of the return of the UEFA Champions League! On Tuesday evening at 21:00 CEST, die Roten Bullen will kick off in the group stages of Europe’s premier club competition. The visitors at the RB Arena are last season’s Turkish Süper Lig champions, İstanbul Başakşehir FK.
Ahead of the match, head coach Julian Nagelsmann and goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi sat down in front of the media for the pre-match press conference and discussed this year’s aims for the Champions League, the upcoming opponents, and the team spirit in camp.
Julian Nagelsmann on...
...our aims for this season’s Champions League:
- “Our main goal is to progress past the group stages. That’s the first main challenge of the Champions League that you have to overcome. The beauty of tournaments like this is that it’s a step-by-step process. What we want is to finish in the top two of our group so that we can get to the knock-out rounds.
Even though our group this season is arguably tougher than it was last year, we’re absolutely capable of achieving this goal and progressing. We’ve played well so far this season with a lot of commitment and strong performances, and there’s a really strong desire to win in the squad.”
- “Başakşehir were deserved Turkish champions last season. Although they haven’t made the best of starts to this season, they will have gained confidence with the win on Saturday that’s come just at the right time for them. They have a lot of experience in their team, especially with players like Demba Ba, who I know from my time at Hoffenheim. It’s players like that who put in that extra bit of effort in the international tournaments; they find that extra bit of motivation.
They often mix up the way they attack in the league so we don’t really know what to expect on Tuesday. They’re an unpredictable team. They’re not easy to dispossess when they have the ball. But we’re more than prepared for the game and we’ve got a good idea of how we can go about winning on the night.”
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...the team spirit in the squad:
- “The team spirit and togetherness in camp is even better than it was last season. There’s a really good atmosphere, both amongst the players and in the coaching team. This team spirit really developed in Lisbon and will continue to carry us forward.”
Péter Gulácsi on...
...looking forward to the return of the Champions League:
- “I can’t wait to get going in the Champions League again. It’s always a highlight for us as players. Our group this season is perhaps a bit more difficult than last season, but we want to try to do just as well again and make the best possible start against Istanbul.”
...experience gained from last season:
- “Every season that you compete in the Champions League makes you more experienced as a team. We trust in our own ability and we’re fully confident that we can overcome the challenges that lie ahead. We want to bring our best game out onto the pitch with us and show Europe that we’ve become even better since last season.”
- Amadou Haidara has not yet received the final results of his COVID-19 tests and so is still in self-isolation. An update on this will come out in the next few days, but he will not be part of the squad for Tuesday.
- Lukas Klostermann was taken off at half time against FC Augsburg because of a problem with his left knee, which has prevented him from training with the rest of the team today. The medical department will decide the next steps for his recovery over the forthcoming days.
- Marcel Sabitzer returned to team training today (Monday) following his time out with injury, but will not feature on Tuesday. Konrad Laimer will also require more time to recover.