Malick Thiaw: Competing for a spot makes you better

Malick Thiaw was sidelined for the DFB-Pokal game against FC 08 Villingen due to a slight thigh issue, before being back in the starting line-up against FC Erzgebirge Aue last weekend. The 20-year-old featured at centre-back again, but in a slightly different role.

Malick Thiaw

Head coach Dimitrios Grammozis made the switch to a back four against Aue, having previously preferred a back three so far this season. “We reacted well to the change to a back four against Aue,” said Thiaw, who was pleased with how his side performed during the first half.

The defender also touched on the differences between both formations, especially in terms of spacing and build up play. Through video analysis and several intense training sessions, the team have been able to integrate these changes into their style of play, Thiaw reported. He added that the squad is capable of playing successful football in both formations – something they will be looking to prove this Saturday against SSV Jahn Regensburg (21/8, 13:30 CEST).

Thiaw not afraid of a little competition

According to Thiaw, it’s understandable that things aren’t running seamlessly as a team yet, given the many changes to the squad. “We have many new players and are a new squad. It will take some time,” said the Düsseldorf native. Thiaw has been able to welcome another new teammate on Thursday (19/8), as defender Ko Itakura has joined the Royal Blues on loan from Manchester City. Thiaw is pleased to have another centre-back in the squad, saying “Competing for a spot is part of football. I’m seeing it through a positive lens. It helps motivate you and makes you better.”

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