Matija Nastasic: Everyone wants to play and everyone is needed

After several weeks of absence due to injury, Matija Nastasic completed his second consecutive game against Union Berlin. The centre-back unfortunately found himself in the spotlight during the first half because of an alleged foul on Robert Andrich inside the penalty area. However, slow-mo replays revealed that the defender did not make contact with his opponent.

“I tried to explain that to the referee,” says the 26-year-old, but Daniel Schlager would not hear his protests. The referee told the Royal Blues that he was checking the decision with his video assistant. However, he did not watch the review on the screen himself and his original penalty decision stood. “I was quite surprised but luckily we won in the end, so we’re not too angry about it,” says Nastastic.

Praise for the medical team

The left-footer can be pleased with his overall performance against Union and the fact the opposition could only find the back of the net from the penalty spot was thanks in small part to his defensive display. In particular, he made an excellent challenge on Marcus Ingvarsten to prevent the visitors from taking an early lead.

Nastastic was happy to help the team pick up a seventh win of the season and to do so without discomfort. “I was in a lot of pain because of my Achilles tendon for about three or four weeks and when you’re in pain you can’t give 100 percent,” he explains. “But it’s now completely subsided. Our medical team have done a great job.”

When you're in pain you can't give 100 percent.

Matija Nastasic

The Serb’s return from injury was especially important for the team because of the injuries to Benjamin Stambouli (foot) and Salif Sané (knee). In fact, Ozan Kabak was the only regular centre-back available to play against Fortuna Düsseldorf.

When all four central defenders are fully fit, there will be competition for the two places in the starting line-up. “We have several good centre-backs in the squad and everyone wants to play,” explains Nastasic, before adding: “It’s a long season and everyone is needed.”

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