Nassim Boujellab: I knew straight away it was going top corner

The Knappen won their last official preseason friendly on Saturday with a convincing performance against neighbours VfL Bochum. One day later, the team beat the U23s 4-1 in an internal friendly. Nassim Boujelab scored the first goal of the 3-0 win against Bochum – a delightful strike from the edge of the area.

Nassim Boujellab

“When I got into the position, I knew straight away that I was going to put the ball in the top right corner,” said Boujellab, talking us through his opening goal in the 25th minute. Amine Harit had set up the 21-year-old for the shot with a pass from the left wing. Boujellab wasted little time and struck the ball beautifully into the top right corner. The Royal Blues continued to create good goalscoring opportunities after going in front, two of which were put away by Mark Uth and Harit. “You could see that we were enjoying our football,” said Boujellab, who was very pleased both with his individual performance and that of the team. “We entered the game aggressively and with high intensity,” said the midfielder, who came on in the first 15 minutes to replace Matija Nastasic, who had suffered a head injury.

Nassim Boujellab

Despite being impressed with how the team managed to put a lot of the coach’s instructions into practice, Boujellab commented on how his team lost the ball too easily at times. Something he wants to see stamped out. However, the overall positive performance has given everyone a good feeling ahead of the first lot of competitive fixtures.

Wagner: The team is becoming more and more of a unit

David Wagner was equally satisfied with his team’s performance over 90 minutes against Schalke’s Revier neighbours. However, the head coach does not wish to place too much importance on this friendly, nor any of the other preseason games. “The game and the result were positive, but we’ll be putting this game to one side without getting too excited, just like all the other games,” said the Knappen boss. “There’s still another week to work hard on our game before the first competitive fixture. Just like with the previous fixtures, we can take things that went well and things that went not-so well from this game.”

Wagner is much more pleased with the noticeable progress being made within the team. “The lads are improving, that’s what preseason is for. We’ve taken all the steps we wanted to so far,” he pointed out. The head coach is also very impressed with the atmosphere within the team: “The team has not allowed itself to be led astray by unpleasant situations,” he explained, referring in part to the preseason programme, which, for example due to the Covid-19 case at the training camp, did not always run smoothly. Wagner concluded with perhaps the most important lesson from the past week: “This team is becoming more and more of a unit!”

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