Bremen – Leonardo Bittencourt has been wearing the shirt of SV Werder Bremen for almost three years now. After relegation, the 28-year-old definitely wants to reconnect with the green-whites. And before the final push, he is the first Werder professional to speak.
“I firmly believe that we will rise again,” says Leonard Bittencourt in an interview with the DeichStube, but also highlights how difficult this road will still be. In addition, the offensive specialist speaks SV Werder Bremen on his difficult season, the atmosphere in the locker room and the apologies of his ex-coach Markus Anfang.
Leonardo Bittencourt, you invented the songs “Ducksch is on fire” and “Füllkrug is on fire” for the evenings with the team, when do we sing “Leo is on fire”?
(laughs) Well, the guys in front really scored a lot, so they deserved it. As long as we’re successful, I can live with that, I don’t need my own song.
The question also had a sporting background: 17 appearances including 14 in the starting XI, two goals, two assists, can you be happy with your record as a striker?
In terms of numbers, it’s not what I imagined. But there are reasons for this. Unfortunately, I always gave up when I got back into shape after an injury. I have already dragged myself a bit in the season. I had a great preparation, I was really in good shape. Then came a knee injury which took longer than expected. I already had that with my first big injury in Cologne, after that I continued to struggle with my body. You, you, you – I’ve only had two serious injuries in my career. But for me, something else is much more important.
Statistics. This is the number of games the team won when I was there.
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Werder Bremen: Leonardo Bittencourt struggled with his fitness, now he wants to catch up
Ten out of 17 plus four draws and three defeats.
I think it’s not that bad. Ok, I only had one hand on four goals, but I didn’t play bad games, I mostly played decent games. But my goal is to make really good games. You have to look at the statistics very carefully. I was only able to play my first game in 90 minutes this season a month ago. Then I thought: Great, now we can start! And what happened? A corona infection!
By the way, when you scored, Werder always won, is that the key to promotion?
I wouldn’t mind (laughs). Now I feel really good again. It was great that coach Ole Werner agreed with me before the Sandhausen game that I would only start 30 minutes after Corona. Sure, I could have shoved my way through for 60 minutes, but I would have had to deal with smaller things all week. Then you quickly find yourself caught in a whirlwind. I hope I can get through the matches well now and I’m sure I’ll show up in the stats as well. But to be honest: if I can’t do anything in all five games and we still win everything, I’ll still celebrate the promotion!
Nevertheless, we would like to continue because there is a lot of talk about it: you are an experienced player in the Bundesliga, you even knocked on the door of the national team – can you understand that more is expected of you?
Yes, I have the same expectations. But for the reasons mentioned, I didn’t manage to reach 100% all the time. And I know that if I play from the start, I will be judged as someone who is in top form. I am fine too. The coach was aware of my situation but obviously didn’t want to give up on my experience or how I can push guys. I have to be 100% for my game: I’m small, poisonous, I move a lot. If it doesn’t go so well from the puff, I just fall a little. Still, what I can give the team is good.
How does the team deal with the issue of promotion in the locker room?
First, the topic was: how can we even catch up with the big deficit? And then we said: game by game by game by game. We wanted to get closer and closer, and we succeeded. Now we are on top with 53 points – just like Schalke. St. Pauli have 52, Darmstadt 51 and Nürnberg 49. And now we will continue the same way: match after match. We know that if we win all five games we will progress. And we want it too. No one here says: Let’s see. We want access now! But it’s going to be hard work.
Have you ever calculated this?
No, it’s useless. That’s why I never did. I can only say one thing: if we do our job, it will be enough. Of course, it would be better if we already had a big lead and were almost through. But I’m an emotional guy. The fans are finally back, the stadiums are full. We put Corona aside a bit. It would be much nicer to do it in the final sprint. I also like the pressure on the boiler, you can wake me up at night for matches like Sunday’s against Nuremberg.
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Werder Bremen: Leonardo Bittencourt does not want to change after promotion, but wants to “make Werder more attractive”
If Werder are not promoted, will you still stay?
I do not ask the question because I am firmly convinced that we are going up.
And will you stay then?
Yes, I still have a contract here, I feel good and I’m fine. So why not? But in football, you never know. I haven’t thought of that yet.
The question has a particular background: you have never stayed more than three years in a club in your professional career, so you would have to leave in the summer.
It’s correct. But I was young then. For now, there is no reason to leave the club.
At 28, you are at the best age in football. What else do you want to achieve?
First our big goal. If we are promoted, we want to restore the attractiveness of Werder Bremen. I would like to play first class again – and there are no upper limits. Let’s see what else is in my tank.
Back to the present: how is coach Ole Werner managing the team at the end of the season?
Like the first day. He knows when to leave the leash a little longer and when to tighten it again. He is very pleasant and does a very good job. He is the same after wins and losses, analyze this very factually. It’s great fun with Ole. The atmosphere in the team is very good, but we don’t party here every day.
Werder Bremen dream of promotion: Leonardo Bittencourt wants to “wet everyone” and “just celebrate”
Marvin Ducksch and Niclas Füllkrug notably ensure a good atmosphere with their goals. Both were absent from practice on Thursday morning. What would a failure of the two best attackers mean?
Of course, it would not be good to have to do without it in this phase. We already have a certain axis which is important. But against Darmstadt, you saw that we can face a number of failures. We have some good guys there. But as far as I know, Ducksch and Füllkrug can play on weekends.
A completely different subject: after his vaccination card fraud, Markus left Werder at the beginning of November, and he has since been sentenced. Have you ever been in contact with him?
no But I think he’s doing pretty well so far. He came out publicly and apologized. For us, the problem was solved quickly anyway, because we had to play again immediately.
By dropping the testing requirement, Markus Anfang also put the team at risk of infection. Do you accept his apologies?
Yes I will do it. He himself knows that was wrong. He now has to live with the consequences. I prefer to watch us and I’m glad we got the curve.
Last question: What are you doing on May 15 around 5:25 p.m.?
What is supposed to have happened there?
It’s the last day of the game, all games start at the same time at 3:30 p.m. – and the season could end around 5:25 p.m.
(laughs) I know it. My wish is this: I want to wet everyone around me at 5:28 p.m. and then party. (knee)