U19s unbeaten in 2021 – Hübscher: 'Developed in all areas'

The eldest Bayer 04 youth team have not suffered a single defeat in 2021 in the U19 Bundesliga West. In an interview with, U19 coach Sven Hübscher talks about the progress of the team, the senior debuts for Zidan Sertdemir and Iker Bravo and targets on the pitch for the New Year.

Sven, your first year at Bayer 04 is coming to a close. What is the assessment of you and your coaching staff after nearly 12 months in Leverkusen?

Hübscher: We are satisfied to date even though we might have been able to pick up one or two more points. The team has developed in all areas although there is always room for improvement.

Due to coronavirus over that time, you and your team have 'only' played 13 games. What was different in 2021 compared with the years before when you worked as a coach?

Hübscher: At the beginning, you could feel the lads were a little unsure in matches. It needed a couple of games for them to clear their heads after weeks and months in lockdown. In addition, we never really got into a rhythm. At times that made it difficult to maintain high levels of excitement. But I think we dealt really well with the situation and made the best of it.


Sven Hübscher sees his U19s achieve a good first half to the season.

The U19s are still unbeaten this season in the U19 Bundesliga West and are currently second in the table with 18 points from eight games. How happy are you with the season so far?

Hübscher: The points return is the result of a good development that the team is made up to now. That's something that Thomas Eichin (head of the Performance Centre, ed.) stresses again and again. We do have two targets in our sights in the youth section: On the one hand, delivering results and on the other bringing through players. Of course, that mostly goes hand-in-hand.

The league has been adapted to take account of the coronavirus pandemic. There will be no second half of the season. How far did that influence you as a coach but also as a team?

Hübscher: You don't have any time to make mistakes. We felt that against Duisburg and Schalke 04 where we dropped points. In addition, it distorts the table: If you lose a game then you can suddenly no longer be capable of achieving your targets for the season or drop four places.

Zidan Sertdemir and Iker Bravo are two U19 players to make their senior debuts this season. What's your assessment of the development of the two 16-year-olds?

Hübscher: They've richly deserved those appearances and have played well. I'm very happy that both have made their debut and got the chance with the first team. But it is important to assess the situation correctly as the senior squad had a lot of injuries at that point. Now it's about working in the U19s again and taking the next step.


U19 players Zidan Sertdemir (l.) and Iker Bravo warming up ahead of the DFB Cup game between the Werkself and Karlsruher SC.

What's your overall assessment of the development of the team since you've been here?

Hübscher: Things are definitely looking up for us. The individual players have all developed. And that, in turn, helped develop the team as a whole. And the competition for places is also improved. In that sense, it was perhaps a bit of a shame that the winter break is coming and are run has been interrupted a bit. We were in really good shape.

As you mention it: Your team went into the winter break with a 7-0 home win against Wuppertal. The next game – against top of the table Borussia Dortmund – is not until February next year. What homework have you given your players?

Hübscher: The lads have received a running timetable as well as individual training plans. They have a few days off between Christmas and New Year to recharge their batteries and that will be followed by individual training sessions. We start again as a team on 7 January. It's very important for the lads to come back fit because we will start again at full speed. We want to give our all straight away and prepare ourselves as well as we can for the match against Dortmund.

At the end of the year people like to make New Year resolutions. You too?

Hübscher: To be honest, I haven't given it a second thought. But in the past it mostly didn't work out that well with resolutions. (He laughs)

And finally: What are your targets with Bayer 04 in the new calendar year?

Hübscher: We created a good starting point in the first eight games. We want to continue developing the team and carry on having a good season. Up to now, we've always taken it game by game. That helped us and that's what we are intending to do in the New Year. We want to maintain a high level of focus on things we can influence – and that's with our performances in training and in matches. The rest will take care of itself.


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