Leitsch: "Walking into the away dressing room will be unusual, but I'll find it”
The new arrival from Bochum wants to take something from his former home when the sides meet on Saturday
In his first Bundesliga match for Mainz 05 (Saturday, 15:30 CEST), newcomer Maxim Leitsch returns to his old home. The central defender played for VfL Bochum from 2008 to 2022, firstly with the youth team before signing a professional deal in 2017. He changed surroundings this summer, and at while speaking to the media before the start of the season, Leitsch discussed topics including contact with former teammates and his adaptation to Svensson's system.
Last weekend, the centre-back made his first appearance in a competitive match for the Zerofivers in the 3-0 Pokal win in Aue, keeping a clean sheet alongside his team-mates and drawing a positive conclusion: "Considering that it was our first competitive match against an uncomfortable opponent, we did very well and played confidently. Of course, we still have to improve and make better use of our scoring chances, but we can build on this performance." After the cup game, Bo Svensson had criticised his team's susceptibility to counter-attacks, especially in the first half of the game. Leitsch also saw room for improvement in this respect, explaining, "We need our holding midfielders to keep firm and have one of them in front of the defensive live, otherwise it will be dangerous against Bochum."
The centre-back is getting more and more used to Svensson's preferred three-man backline and has gradually become more familiar with the system over the course of pre-season: "In contrast to the system in Bochum, you are more involved in the game in the three-man backline and find yourself a little further forward. It takes time to really understand it and I hope that it will improve from game to game.” Closely working with his centre-back colleagues, Leitch discusses tactics with his fellow centre-backs at half-time and after matches, which will help going forward.
A new job at set-pieces
The former Bochum player also has a new corner kick role, involving staying back to defend, despite his height of 1.89 m: "I have never really been the type to score four headed goals per season. In addition, I can utilise my pace at the back and hopefully intercept if we find ourselves defending a counter-attack," Leitsch explained in a discussion about set-pieces.
Contacts in Bochum and a new start in Mainz
When asked about his return to his old hunting ground, the Mainz newcomer predicted a difficult league opener: "Everyone is fired up and wants to get off to a good start. Bochum were very strong at home last year, that's what made them stand out. It's important that we're focussed right from the start and get into the game well so that we take something out of it." The 24-year-old continues to maintain contact with the Bochum team, regardless of the upcoming clash: "I got on very well with a few of the guys there and like to keep in touch."
As it as an away game at his old home, Leitsch knows his family will be supporting him and, after many years in a VfL kit, is looking forward to his first time playing as a guest at Castroper Straße. "Walking into the away dressing room will be unusual, but I'll find it," laughs the Essen native, hoping for a good reception at Bochum's Ruhrstadion: "I always gave everything for the club, I can’t blame myself in that aspect. The switch was my decision because I just wanted to come this way", also citing wanting to get out of his comfort zone and having the chance to explore a new city as part of his reasons to head to Mainz. There were a number of football factors that convinced Leitsch, from the club's philosophy, to the playing style and Bo Svensson himself. "It is important to me that I can identify with my club," the centre-back summarised.