8.07.2020Bayer 04

Rolfes: Tapsoba is good for our game

The Werkself players have had a chance since Sunday to take a breather and recharge their batteries. After the final domestic fixture, the 4-2 defeat against FC Bayern in the DFB Cup, Lars Bender and Co. started a two-week break and are set to return to training on 23 July in preparation for the Europa League campaign. In an online interview with members of the media, sporting director Simon Rolfes spoke about…

…the focus on the Europa League after the two-week break: The players have now got a couple of days off to recover and gather strength. That's necessary because normally the team returns after a break in small steps. It will be different this year. So motivation is a crucial factor. We are going straight into a tournament – and that will hopefully last for two weeks.

…the Europa League as a tournament and the venues in North-Rhine: It's definitely a slight advantage to be able to play here in the region. At the same time, like all the other teams, we’ll be staying in a hotel and training on allocated pitches just like the other teams. So any slight advantage is quickly evened out. There's only really a home advantage if there are spectators in the stadiums. You see that again and again at World Cups and European Championships.

…the different circumstances for the Europa League participants: Double-fixture weeks are carrying on just as they did before the coronavirus break. The results were unpredictable in terms of training in small groups and the short time in full training before the restart. In Italy, England and Spain there is a high workload in the coming weeks. We'll see what effect that has on the teams from those countries in the competition. I'm optimistic the break in the league will not be a disadvantage to us in the tournament.

…the targets in the Europa league: There are just three games to the final. In tournaments, it's always crucial to start well in the competition and develop a rhythm. We'll have to battle from round to round. The team that wins in the end doesn't always play the most attractive football. We have to be prepared to win using different methods. The target is clear: We want to get to the final and hopefully win it.

…the integration and development of the winter signings: Edmond Tapsoba has continued his rapid development with us and settled into the team really well. He is good for our game with his presence and ability to open up play. Exequiel Palacios has had a difficult six months. He did very well at the training camp but he was unfortunately suspended and then injured or ill as the team really got going. He can use the break after a long season – including time in Argentina – to recharge his batteries and get going again. Florian Wirtz also settled in quickly and was able to train with us regularly as the schools were closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. That helped him a lot. Of course, with him it's an advantage that his home life has not changed since his move from FC Köln. He's definitely deserved his game time up to now.

…the forthcoming transfer window: Our preparations for a transfer window usually last for weeks and months. Those are more likely to be very basic as the transfer window can never be predicted in full. Of course, we’re in a special situation this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic and the crisis has affected all clubs hard financially. On top of that, it will be a long summer transfer period: Transfers are possible up to 5 October and in a lot of countries matches will have already been played for a couple of weeks. All these circumstances will lead to a delay and change in transfer activities.

…the future of playmaker Kai Havertz: We continue to hope he will play for us for another year. But there's no new news and the outcome remains to be seen. However, we have made it clear we want to play the Europa League to an end with the same squad. That's a must for me. We have ambitious targets in this competition.

…the start of the new Bundesliga season a few weeks after the Europa League: It will definitely be a disadvantage for teams playing in Europe. There’ll be no real regeneration, no normal holiday period or a decent pre-season. It's more a case of carrying on playing. In the beginning that could possibly lead to a playing rhythm but then it will affect the players at some point – also because next season will be compromised like never before.

…the healing process for Paulinho: The operation went well. He was very disappointed and frustrated. He’s developed well in the last few weeks and months and he deserved to get his time on the pitch. He's coming back this week and will start rehab on Wednesday.

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