BENCE BABJÁK 2022.04.20 18:48

Bundesliga: I chose the fight – Dominik Szoboszlai

Leipzig's Hungarian midfielder fights every day for the opportunity to play and does his best to prove himself to the manager in the time given to him. In addition, he could play two finals in his first Bundesliga season.


Dominik Szoboszlai knows that he is not the number one player in his position, but he is working to change head coach Domenico Tedesco’s opinion (Photo: AFP)


Did you sleep well after your winning goal on Sunday?
– It is very difficult for me to fall asleep after matches, especially if I'm a starter – 21-year-old RB Leipzig midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai, who scored the winning goal on Sunday in the league in Leverkusen's home, told Nemzeti Sport ahead of Wednesday's German Cup semifinal against Union Berlin. – Of course, I was happy for the three points, it was good for my soul that I helped the team with a goal, and I took another step on the path I want to continue.

Akikre büszkék vagyunk – Deák Zsigmond jegyzete

Prior to Sunday's league game against Hoffenheim, you had a goal and an assist, meaning that you showed a pretty convincing performance in the competition.
– At Leipzig, we have to fight every minute, especially in the midfield. We have a big squad; there are several players of the same ability in each position that head coach Domenico Tedesco can choose from, but the midfield is perhaps the fullest. Everyone is fighting for his place, and I fight every day to get an opportunity. When that moment comes, I want to take the chance. Lately, this has mostly been successful, but as I said, these are just steps on the long way.

In your first full Bundesliga season, how difficult was it to fit into a team where they changed coaches during the season and are in a fight you've never seen before to make the team?
– That's football, we can never sit back. There have always been ups and downs before, and they will continue to be. The question is whether you will continue to struggle in difficult moments or give up. I chose the fight; I didn't want to let anything get me off the road. I tried to rule out all external factors, I only paid attention to myself, and I didn't care about anything but football. This recipe has worked in the past as well.

DOMINIK SZOBOSZLAI’S STATISTICS IN THE 2021–2022 SEASON (GRAPHICS) – Click on graphics to view in full size (NS graphics: András Dancsák)

Did you talk to Domenico Tedesco about your situation?
– We talked a few times, but it's not public. In the end, like all footballers, I had to accept that I'm not the number one player in my position for the head coach. However, as I have said before, I didn't give up, I was not picking holes in others, I was just thinking about how I can change his mind. It is still difficult to say that everything is on track – after all, we have had two league games in recent times where pretty much everything went according to plan, but with my performance in the last few weeks, I have managed to somewhat get over the difficult period. I hope I can keep up with the pace or play even better.

From a different point of view, it hardly comes to your disadvantage that at the age of 21, you already experienced what it is like to fight for a place in the starting eleven in one of Europe's top teams. These experiences can help you a lot later.
– That's true. The sooner the footballer learns to deal with such situations, the better. I set goals for myself, and if someone has the same desires I have, they should not give them up at all. As I move forward in my career, so do the obstacles and steps. If the direction is right, they will become more and more difficult. But if I want to reach them, I have to face them, I must not sit back.

Dominik Szoboszlai not only has to fight opponents, but he is also competing with his teammates for the starting line-up. His goal on Sunday could give him a big boost (Photo: Imago Images)

Did you think in the fall that in your first full Bundesliga season you could be on the podium and also reach the German Cup and Europa League finals?
– A lot has changed since the fall season, and I don't want to dwell on the past anymore. However, it would be unusual if we achieved our goal in every series. There is no priority, we have to do the same in all three series, and we want to make the most of the season.

What kind of game do you expect from Union Berlin on Wednesday?
– If Mr. Schaefer plays, they will surely defend... Joking aside, we analyzed Union's game and looked back at the most important scenes from its matches, but obviously, a lot depends on what tactics the opponent chooses. Anything can happen in 90 minutes, but our goal is to reach the final, and whoever comes on the pitch will also drive out his soul to succeed.

What would the Europa League final mean?
– It would be a milestone for me and the club, after all, it is unusual for Leipzig to reach the semifinals of a European Cup series. If we were to succeed against Rangers, we would have the opportunity to do something really great, but I don't want to think ahead that much. We can say that in the two cup series everything was good: in the German Cup we avoided Bayern Munich and Dortmund, but at this level, there is no easy opponent. In the Europa League, we said goodbye to Real Sociedad and Atalanta, neither team that could be dealt with just a hand gesture. In both series, we reached the final four because we deserved it, but while we are here, of course, we do not want to stop.

– Is this the most important game of the spring?
– We always call the next match the most important, but Wednesday's German Cup semifinal is certainly more important than a simple Bundesliga match – András Schäfer replied. – Union Berlin is not the team that makes it to the top four every year; we are at the door of a huge opportunity. The fans are still ecstatic at the results we have achieved so far, and I dare not even think about what would happen if we made it to the final, which will be held at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin and where we also have fond memories.

– What can you hope for in Leipzig's home?
– That we are in good shape like our opponent. At the same time, we are obviously not the favorites in Leipzig as there are high-quality footballers on the other side. On the one hand, we have already defeated Leipzig once this season, and on the other hand, anything can happen in the one-match cup semifinal. The pressure is not on us, and if we follow the instructions of the professional staff, we will have a chance, and from there it is up to us to take advantage of it.

– Will you be able to sleep on Wednesday night after annoying to Péter Gulácsi, Willi Orbán, and Dominik Szoboszlai?
– Of course. In fact, this is one of my biggest motivations, because in June, due to the Nations League games, we will be locked up for almost a month with the national team, and I would rather be nibbling them with the German Cup semifinal than the other way around. If I get the chance, I hope we have a few duels with Dominik Szoboszlai, he would certainly not like a few of my tougher tackles.

What is the secret of Leipzig's spring performance? Despite Domenico Tedesco taking over the team on the fly, they are already changing formations and line-ups from match to match without any problems. From the outside, everything seems to be on the rise.
– We're happy to hear that it's seen like that from the outside. It may become commonplace, but one way or another, we'll win the matches, but at the same, time there are many components of success that only those who are strained for results every day know. Every day we do videos, we analyze, everyone gives 100 percent in training, and we pay attention to every little detail. The credit goes to the manager for putting the team together very well. There can be no complaints about the results, and in addition to the coach, we also have a role to play. If one of the parties believed in working together only, we wouldn't be here right now.

By reaching the German Cup and Europa League finals, could you have the best season of your career behind you?
– I don't want to rush so far ahead. Let's get through the two semifinals first, let's finish the season, and then we'll go back to that question.


 RB Leipzig employs three Hungarian national team footballers, and from the domestic football point of view, it is gratifying for them to have more and more opportunities – but what is their perception in Germany? Beyond the minutes of play, the successful tackles, and the number of goals, what do Germans see in the three footballers? In this connection, we asked for the help of Kicker's Oliver Hartmann, who follows RB Leipzig at the German magazine.„Dominik Szoboszlai needed time to integrate, which is no wonder, after all, he was in a team that changed coaches in the first half of the season, and the performance was also bumpy. It is not easy for anyone to get into the rhythm at this time of year, and although his two goals against Stuttgart were a dream start, then there were meetings in which he was almost imperceptible in the field. With the arrival of Domenico Tedesco, however, his performance has also improved. At first, I saw that, like all footballers, he had a harder time accepting the fewer opportunities, but then he put on the gloves. It is no coincidence that he assisted against Real Sociedad and Freiburg in ten minutes. It should be added that Leipzig is competing in three series, that is, the club has a very large squad, and the competition in midfield is amazing, even on a German standard at a high level. Emil Forsberg, Dani Olmo, and Dominik Szoboszlai are competing against each other, from which the club will only benefit, and as far as I know, Tedesco is also satisfied with the Hungarian midfielder's performance. As for the other two Hungarian footballers, Willi Orbán and Péter Gulácsi are synonymous with RB Leipzig for everyone. In the summer, many were concerned about the departures of Dayot Upamecano and Ibrahima Konaté, and although the Leipzig defense was indeed vulnerable at the start of the season, the backline has now come together. Mohamed Simakan and Josko Gvardiol, who arrived in the summer, have found their place, but the leader is clearly Willi Orbán. Péter Gulácsi has also proved he is Leipzig's number one goalkeeper and will definitely be it for the next two years as well."


 RB Leipzig–Union Berlin (TV: Sport2) – live on NSO!

Hamburg–Freiburg 1–3
 (Glatzel 88., and Petersen 11., Höfler 17., Grifo 34. – penalty)

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