Exclusive: SpVgg Greuther Fürth and USMNT star Julian Green on Kleeblätter 2019/20 Ambitions, 2. Bundesliga Challenges

SpVgg Greuther Fürth opened their 2019/2020 2. Bundesliga campaign away at the Erzgebirgsstadion in a 2-0 loss against Daniel Meyer’s Fußball Club Erzgebirge Aue e.V courtesy of a 25th minute left-footed finish from Dimitrij Nazarov and a late clinical right-footed drive inside the middle of the box by Jan Hochscheidt in the 90th minute.

SpVgg Greuther Fürth had 62% of the possession compared to Fußball Club Erzgebirge Aue e.V’s  38% possession throughout the 2. Bundesliga opening day encounter, whereas Die Kleeblätter registered 25 shots on goal overall throughout the contest; seven of which were on target. Die Veilchen meanwhile registered 11 shots overall on target against SpVgg Greuther Fürth in their 2-0 victory; seven shots were similarly on target for the Saxony-based club.

However, Die Kleeblätter’s second 2. Bundesliga contest of the 2019/2020 season, their first home fixture of the season at the 18,000 capacity Sportpark Ronhof, SpVgg Greuther Fürth routed FC St. Pauli 3-1 via a brace from 29-year-old Daniel Keita-Ruel, now in his second season with the club. USMNT winger, Julian Green, formerly of Bayern München and VfB Stuttgart, then slotted home the third for SpVgg Greuther Fürth in the 70th minute thanks to a splendid right-footed strike from outside of the box; Green (a former Germany U19 standout) has logged six shots in two games this season.

Elsewhere, SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s next opponent was 3. Liga club MSV Duisburg in the DFB Pokal; MSV Duisburg experienced relegation from 2. Budesliga last season and had last played in the Bundesliga in the 2007/08 campaign. However, Torsten Lieberknecht’s Die Zebras went ahead after four minutes through a Lukas Daschner left-footed finish into the top left corner outside of the box. With an early advantage, MSV Duisburg added a second goal 10 minutes later when Tim Albutat extended the lead for the North Rhine-Westphalia-based club. Throughout MSV Duisburg’s 2-0 victory against SpVgg Greuther Fürth, however, Die Kleeblätter logged 20 shots on goal (three on target) to MSV Duisburg’s 21 shots on goal (seven on target).

Furthermore, SpVgg Greuther Fürth had 51% of the possession in comparison to MSV Duisburg’s 49% of the ball. Die Kleeblätter additionally made five key saves throughout the encounter and currently sit in eighth place in the 2. Bundesliga after two games in the 2019/2020 2. Bundesliga season.

Prior to SpVgg Greuther Fürth’s 2. Bundesliga home fixture against SSV Jahn Regensburg at the Sportpark Ronhof in Bavaria this Sunday, FOX Sports Radio 96.9 FM/1340 AM’s Dean Perretta briefly caught up with SpVgg Greuther Fürth and USMNT winger, Julian Green, to discuss the expectations and targets for this season at the Bavarian club, Stefan Leitl’s influence and football philosophy, as well as Die Kleeblätter’s Frankenderby with bitter rivals 1. Fußball-Club Nürnberg.

 

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Julian, SpVgg Greuther Fürth finished 13th in the 2. Bundesliga last season. What are the main goals and expectations for Die Kleeblätter in 2019/2020?

Julian Green: Last campaign we had a really good start, followed by a phase of weaker performances. After Stefan Leitl joined us (in February this year), we gained a seemingly relaxing gap to the relegation zone. But some teams at the bottom of the table started a streak and almost caught up. This year, we want to improve – as a team and as individuals – and we don’t want to fight to stay in the league till the very last minute.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Hamburger SV, 1. FC Heidenheim, Holstein Kiel and Arminia Bielefeld all missed out on promotion from the 2. Bundesliga to the Bundesliga last season. How different will it be in the 2. Bundesliga this time around with regards to the gulf and proposition in relation to SpVgg Greuther Fürth and the aforementioned clubs, particularly with SpVgg Greuther Fürth  looking to return to the Bundesliga for the first time since the 2012/13 season?

Julian Green: The German 2. Bundesliga is a very competitive league. On one hand, we have a lot of clubs with experience in the Bundesliga, on the other there are comparatively small clubs with a lot of tradition, that have made their way back from lower divisions. These clubs are ambitious and want to take root in 2. Bundesliga again. The similar qualities and strengths of all teams promise a very tough competition, that’s why we have to give 100 percent to secure a good position in the table.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Can you discuss the positive influence and leadership of Stefan Leitl among the players both on and off of the pitch?

Julian Green: (SpVgg Greuther Fürth  Head Coach) Stefan (Leitl) is a young coach at the age of 41 but doesn’t lack experience. He knows the business (of this game), has received a great (football) education at Bayern Munich like I did a few years later and played almost 200 games in 2. Bundesliga himself. He knows how to handle both young and experienced players – and how to prepare us for the upcoming challenges. He loves and lives soccer, tactically and emotionally and has a big impact on the progress of every player and the entire squad.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: The well-storied Frankenderby between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and bitter rivals 1. Fußball-Club Nürnberg has historical relevance and heritage, especially in relation to geographical location and the rich dominance of both respective clubs in the early days of German football. However, can you talk about the passion of the Frankenderby and what it means for you to experience this passionate Bavarian encounter?

Julian Green: The Frankenderby between SpVgg Greuther Fürth and 1. FC Nürnberg is one of our season highlights, especially to our fans. As the matchday approaches, you can feel the enthusiasm building up in the entire region (of the Bavaria). We were the underdog in the past matches and will also be this season, as 1. FC Nürnberg was just relegated (last season) from the Bundesliga. But in these rivalry matchups everything is possible if we give it our all. I’ve already played two Frankenderbies in 2017/2018, lost my first one at home unfortunately, but we won the rematch in Nuremberg. The atmosphere when we scored the 2-0 in injury time was intense – that’s the feeling you just love as a professional soccer player.

 

 

 

Dean Perretta: Finally, can you talk about the levels of self-confidence within the SpVgg Greuther Fürth training camp and, of course, the overall belief and qualities in the squad?

Julian Green: We worked really hard during the preseason – that’s critical and vital for our way of playing: We want to attack the opponents right away and keep up the pressure for 90 minutes. We have only had a few roster changes in the summer transfer window. And the players who joined us have either been successful with their youth teams or had experiences at bigger clubs. Everyone wants to take the next step – and we believe in our strengths. That will hopefully lead us to a good position at the end of the season 2019/20.

Dean Perretta

Dean Perretta is a 2x SEA Award-winning creative, Broadcast Journalist, Reporter, Courtside Analyst for BBC televised London Lions and Executive Producer who currently contributes to FOX Sports Radio, FourFourTwo Magazine and Muscle & Fitness Magazine.