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22.10.2020Europa League

Tapsoba: ‘We want to win the group’

Ahead of the Europa League opening game against OGC Nice on Thursday 22 October (kick-off: 18.55 CEST/live on DAZN and Werkself-Radio at bayer04.de), central defender Edmond Tapsoba talks in an interview for the BayArena Aktuell about the opponents from the south of France, his experience in international competitions and his time at Leverkusen to date.
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Edmond, you’re starting the Europa League campaign against OGC Nice. What do you think about the draw?
The draw is good, I’m happy about our opponents Nice, Slavia Prague and Hapoel Beer Sheva. Our target must be to go through to the next round. But anything can happen in football, we have to be focused and keep on improving. Even if the opponents are strong – we are Bayer 04, we want to win the group.

How do you rate Nice?
They are a strong opponent from a strong league. Dante plays there and I really rate him. He’s a defender I very much like and I watched him on television during his time at Bayern and playing for Brazil. It will be special for me to play against him.

What does it mean to you to play in the Europa League again?
Every player loves European games. For me it’s a challenge to play at that level. I played in the Europa League at Guimarães but that was different because they’re a smaller club. Anything is possible with Leverkusen and last season we were in the quarter-finals against Inter Milan. We have to improve this season. I dream of winning the Europa League with Leverkusen.

You’re only 21 years old but have already played 16 Europa League games including the quarter-finals...
When I was young, I didn’t think I’d play on the European stage so early. I thought I’d do it when I was 24 or 25. I’m very happy about it and working hard to play more games at this level. The game against Inter was a highlight of my career in spite of the 2-1 defeat. I want to get there again.

What highlights have you experienced in the Europa League before joining Leverkusen?
Almost exactly a year ago, I played for Vitoria Guimarães in London against Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium and we won 3-2 after drawing 1-1 in Portugal. And we also won 2-0 at Standard Liege. Unfortunately we didn’t go through to the knockout rounds because we lost twice in the group against Eintracht Frankfurt. I scored three goals in qualifiers for the group stage with two of them coming in the 4-0 victory against Jeunesse Esch (Luxembourg, ed.). I scored the winner in the 1-0 against FCSB from Bucharest.”

What’s your assessment of the start of the season in the Bundesliga?
We’re not unhappy but we could have done better. Six points from four games is not what we were hoping for. We’ve got a good team with outstanding players and the ability to get more points. Winning the first game on matchday four was a bit late. But we want to build on that and show what we can do in all competitions.

The schedule that faces nearly every team is very intensive this year. There are lots of double fixture weeks and you’ve been on duty for Burkina Faso on top of that. What do you say to that heavy workload?
I’ll take it as it comes. We footballers just love to play. If you rest well and recover properly then it shouldn’t be a problem having to play a lot of games. It’s easier when you win and that makes it real fun. That’s why we want to beat Nice.

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