Following the second training session of Mainz’s training camp in Grassau, Germany international Anton Stach joined a media session to answer questions from the travelling journalists. After returning later from the summer break having featured for Germany in June’s Nations League matches, ‘Stachi’ joined team training for the first time on Monday. Now he’s ready to tackle the training camp and be raring to go for the start of the season.
“I think that the holiday was good for me after such a long season. I’m ready to go again and am back into the rhythm of things. I still need to catch up fitness-wise of course, but that’s coming along well,” explained the 23-year-old, who didn’t just spend his time off relaxing, but instead also followed the running regime that was given to him by the club during his holiday. “It was great to switch off from football and just spend time at the beach or with my family,” added Stach. Coming back from a vacation means the focus in training is on managing his workload: “Together with the fitness coaches, I have to look at how my body deals with the strain. But if I’m fit, I want to play as much as possible,” was Stach’s answer to his target for the first competitive games of the season.
I would love to go along for the World Cup ride and will do everything I can to make that happen, but if it doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world.
When asked about being called up to the Germany squad, most recently for the Nations League games at the end of last season, Stach spoke of gaining experience in every training session. “The national team is such a great learning opportunity for me. I can test myself against the best and develop my personality. You learn a lot, even though you have a lot of respect for the players at the start and are quite reserved.” Stach believes the call-up has pushed him to another level, but it hasn’t changed him, something head coach Bo Svensson agrees with, describing the midfielder as “ambitious but still carefree”.
He’s feeling more and more settled in and around the Germany squad these days, and his confidence in training is growing too: “I certainly showed more fight in the final week of training during the last international break. I think it’s normal that you need time as a new player, but I was training really well by the end,” added the German, who has ambitious goals: “I would obviously have liked to have played more, but I know there are a number of lads in my position who aren’t too bad themselves,” said the central midfielder tongue-in-cheek. “I’m just trying to earn the coach’s trust in training and when I play, it’s about performing.”
That approach will certainly help him in his cause to earn a place in the World Cup squad: “I would love to go along for the World Cup ride and will do everything I can to make it happen, but if it doesn’t, it won’t be the end of the world.”
With the huge strides he has taken over the past season, there have often been rumours circulating about the tough-tackling midfield engine, and he also touched on them at the media session: “I don’t let things like that affect me. I’m simply looking forward to preseason, as my focus is on getting fit as fast as I can. The past years for me have shown how quickly things can happen, so my plan is to play out the season with Mainz 05,” said Stach, brushing off any speculation.
“Stachi” wants to use his voice
“I want to take on more responsibility here, be louder on the pitch and develop my game. Last season was good, sure, but there are plenty of things I can do better. Especially in terms of my output in front of goal.” Svensson would also love to see improvement in that area this season; he confirms that Stach possesses “great shooting ability” with which he “can definitely score more goals each year.”
Stach himself believes that he is far from the finished article. “I was never the loudest on the pitch but in my position you have to take on responsibility. When things aren’t going right for the team, I want to try and turn the tide and carry the team along with me. Both on and off the pitch, I mean,” says the midfielder of his ambitions. Stach still believes the number eight role to be his best position on the pitch. “I think that I’m a good box-to-box player because I can dribble with the ball a bit and I can finish well. So I’m not really a number ten or a holding midfielder – I feel at home somewhere in between.” Stach wants to improve the speed of his decision-making and his awareness in the middle so that he can impact the game with his good first touch and then quick, clean movements of the ball. Svensson sees room for growth in the 23-year-old’s reading of the game and in his tactical nous.
Stach and Svensson will be spending a lot of time together on the training pitch over the coming days and weeks as the Germany international looks to further refine his game.