Some coincidences are too good not to talk about, like the fact that Lucas Tousart scored his first home goal for Hertha exactly a year ago today. The opponents back then were TSG Hoffenheim, who were in the Europa league. 363 days later, the two sides’ paths will cross again under different circumstances, also because the Old Lady will travel to Sinsheim this time. “It will be a very close, hard-fought match, especially because of the situation in the table,” predicted Tousart. “It will be important for us to bring our game and rhythm onto the pitch from the start. We have to have the right answers in our head-to-heads. Picking up three points there would certainly raise our morale!” The Frenchman spoke to herthabsc.com ahead of the match on Saturday (18/3 15:30 CET) about the upcoming meeting in Kraichgau, his personal development and the new setup in Hertha’s midfield.
herthabsc.com: Lucas, can you still remember 19th March 2022?
Tousart: Oh yes, we put in a great performance and won a very important match against Hoffenheim, and I scored my first goal in the Olympiastadion, too!
herthabsc.com: That’s right! TSG were also your opponents nearly exactly a year ago on this day, and you topped off the 3-0 win with your first goal for Hertha. How special a moment was it?
Tousart: It was definitely an amazing and special feeling, even if the goal itself looked a bit strange (laughs). I took a shot, but in the moment I wasn’t even sure if I had really scored because the ball had deflected off an opponent, but it’s still a great memory.
herthabsc.com: Now you’re facing Hoffenheim again but away from home this time. You haven’t been able to pick up points as regularly away as you have at home. What do you put this difference down to?
Tousart: That’s hard to explain. In any case, it’s a shame that we haven’t been able to reward ourselves with points away from home more often, even though we’ve been close to picking up one or two extra points in some games. A win on Saturday against an opponent also in the relegation battle would be all the more rewarding for us!
herthabsc.com: Before we talk about this match, let’s talk about your season. Your aims from our conversation in Summer were getting a lot of game time, taking on more responsibility and providing more for the team, and you have achieved them so far. How satisfied are you with your development? Where do you still see room for improvement?
Tousart: I would like to grow as a leader and be more decisive on the pitch, also in terms of goals and assists. I’ve been able to give more to the team personally so far this season, contribute more to our game and be more effective. I’m happy about that, but I always see my performances only as part of a whole and our club. That will always be more important than personal goals. As a team, we didn’t get off to a good start following the break for the World Cup after a decent first half of the season and had to fight our way back up the table. Now we want to continue this and achieve our goal of staying in the Bundesliga.
herthabsc.com: Your strong commitment on the pitch can help. With a total of almost 270 kilometres, you are top of the rankings in the squad and second in the league. Have you changed anything in your training? What part do Sandro Schwarz and his coaching team play in these impressive figures?
Tousart: No, I haven’t really changed much (grins). A lot of running and commitment have always been important for my game, but this year I have had a certain consistency: I’m on the pitch regularly, and we’ve also worked a lot on the physical side with the coach and his team since the summer. You can see the impact of it, and this solid preparation still helps us all. It is a foundation and an important aspect of our football.
herthabsc.com: One reason for your regular scoring in recent weeks is the change in the system. In this new setup, you play a slightly more attacking role. How comfortable are you with that? What characterises your game in midfield in this formation?
Tousart: I like the new role because it suits me! I can get more involved in the attacking play, make runs into spaces more and at the same time we have got more stability as a side. With five defenders, our work together against the ball is better. At the same time, it gives me more opportunities to support the two strikers, also because someone like Tolga (Ciğerci) is playing behind us and gives us additional protection. It just works well with these roles.
I like the new role! I can get more involved in the attacking play and we have more stability as a team. Our work together out of possession works better.[<]
herthabsc.com: Finally, let’s have a look towards Saturday. Both sides aren’t far apart in the table. What kind of game do you expect against TSG?
Tousart: It’s likely to be a very close, hard-fought match, especially because of the situation in the table. Hoffenheim have been waiting for a win in the Bundesliga for a while now, so they will be all the more motivated to put in a good performance at home and pick up points.
herthabsc.com: That’s one of the reasons why a physically intense match is on the cards. How can you make the result go your way?
Tousart: It will be important for us to bring our own game and rhythm onto the pitch from the start. We have to be physically strong as a team and give it everything we’ve got to get a result there. To do that, we have to stay calm and clear-headed on the pitch, avoid unnecessary yellow cards and have the right answers in our head-to-heads. Picking up three points there would certainly raise our morale!