Ever wondered who RB Leipzig coach Domenico Tedesco would support if Italy played Germany in a World Cup final, or in what languages the multi-lingual tactician addresses his players? bundesliga.com can provide you with those answers, and more, as Tedesco goes under the spotlight.
Leipzig have been flying under Tedesco since the coach was installed last December. Currently chasing a top-four Bundesliga finish, through to the DFB Cup semi-finals and in the final eight of the UEFA Europa League, the Saxony-based side face an exciting final eight weeks of a campaign that promises so much. Ahead of the international break, Leipzig's 36-year-old tactician faced a Question & Answer session from sports reporters across Europe to assess his time at the Red Bull Arena to date. bundesliga.com recaps...
What changes did you make when you came in to Leipzig?
Tedesco: "You know, first of all when you come to a new club, you have to know the team; you have to speak a lot with the individual players and try to find out what was the problem was in the past. We changed the system. We tried to speak a lot with the players. We wanted to play a little bit more in possession [and] we tried to press a little bit differently. When I first came here, I realised that players were very hungry to press very high which is as I like it, but sometimes it's also better to stay calm in some situations."
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How much of the groundwork that [former Leipzig coach] Jesse Marsch laid were you able to build on?
"I think that Jessie did a really good job. I found a team here that is really strong physically but also from the point of view of the mentality. They are good guys and it's a really good squad. Of course this is the base of my work. Otherwise I would start with another base."
How important was the short winter break and did you feel that it was a turning point?
"It was very short. We had one week until the first game against Mainz. I think it's important when you have this short time to analyse your own games, and we did that. We had three games in December, and of course I analysed these games and tried to figure out what we needed to improve, and then in this single week we tried to work on it. But it's important to continue. To play the first game against Mainz and then to analyse what we can improve and to work on that during the week. I think this is a process that's never ending."
Do you feel any pressure going into the last seven [Bundesliga] matches of the season?
"[We feel] absolutely no pressure because we know where the team is coming from. In December, Leipzig, honestly speaking, was 11th or 12th with many points to fourth [place]. It's good that we have these coming weeks in the month of April with a lot of finals, if we want to call them finals. But it's down to our work, the work of the team, that we reached these kind of games. Pressure in football is always there. No matter where you work you always have your ambitions but it's not a special kind of pressure because it's a bonus, it's a present to play these kind of games. It's also important for the players to see it [that way]."
How important is it to be able to communicate with your players in their own languages?
"I try to just speak English during the team sessions. We [also] have video sessions [and] a tactical session. But we are a German club, so I want that everyone at the club learns German. But it's not that easy so it's useful to speak French with the French guys or Italian with Andre Silva. Of course it's important [for me] to understand them."
What do you put Christopher Nkunku's excellent form down to?
"He was already in form before I came here. He also scored important goals with Jessie Marsch, that's the truth. I can tell you that our team is working a lot to bring the strikers into [certain] situations inside the box. I think the whole team is working a lot during the game to create a lot of chances and [Christopher] and also Andre [Silva] are happy about this. Andre Silva is also scoring a lot and we have a good run with both so we are happy. It's always the work of the whole team."
What are you ambitions for the remainder of the season?
"We want to win each game, of course, and I think we have the quality, but the other teams think the same about themselves. Everyone wants to reach a final when you are in the semi-final of the cup. We will try to reach each target. Our target is to win the German Cup, first of all. We are in the semi-final and if you are in the semi-final you want to win it."
Watch: A tactical analysis of Nkunku's game
Did you outscore Julian Nagelsmann on the tests when you were both doing the coaching courses together or is that an urban legend?
"No. You know, I think in the last weeks of those exams he was already the coach of the first team at Hoffenheim and he didn't have that much time to [study] for the exams. That's the truth."
Have you had to be flexible tactically compared to your time at Schalke?
"My idea of football in general is that you have to adapt. You have to adapt to the kind of players you have and what kind of strengths you have inside the squad; this is the main thing in our work. If you saw the squad that we had at Schalke, we had many physical players. We played a lot of counter-attacks. We got the second [placed finish] behind Bayern Munich because of good matches where we defended really well, all together and very compact. Good team spirit, a lot of counter-attacks, a lot of corner-kicks, free-kicks, or goals after free-kicks and corner-kicks; set pieces, you know?
"And you have to adapt. Here we have a completely different team, in Spartak Moscow I had a completely different team. We had the youngest team in Russia with really good guys, strong on the ball technically and we had 70% of possession each game. I have to be flexible as as coach, that's my opinion."
How do you rebuild a team's confidence who are underperforming and may be under attack from the media?
"First of all, by not reading the newspapers and then telling the players not to read anything. But it's complicated because they read, and sometimes I also read, honestly speaking. The most important thing is to analyse your game by yourself and not to let [outsiders] analyse them. You can win 6-1, like we did in Fürth last week, and everybody's celebrating. But we have to analyse [the game]: 'Look, we conceded four counter-attacks,' or 'We could have scored eight goals, why didn't we?'.
"Or you could lose a game and everyone is destroying you but you are telling the team the truth, because when you analyse it you can say we had great build-up play, we didn't concede that many, we defended really well, or in terms of pressing, we could improve on this or that. Always working on the details is very important and not to allow external influences to come inside the team."
Watch: Tedesco's Leipzig under the microscope
Imagine Germany and Italy are playing the World Cup final next December. Where will your allegiance lie?
"Italy, I have to admit that."
Because you were brought up on the Italian game?
"Yes of course. I watched a lot of Italian football. In 2006, the World Cup was here [in Germany]; you can't imagine how much my German friends would tease me the whole day about when Italy would go out of the tournament. So when we won in Berlin, it was a big satisfaction. For us Italians living here in Germany, it was beautiful."
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