Although the opening match will not be played until June 14, 2024, Benjamin Henrichs is already looking forward to the European Championship at home. He wants to leave behind the turbulent 2023 international year with many setbacks, including the recent 2-3 home defeat against Turkey, with a great performance and a victory on Tuesday night against Austria in Vienna (20:45, on the LIVETICKER ). .
The 26-year-old winger speaks before the game SPORT1 about the first impressions of national coach Julian Nagelsmann, with whom he already worked at RB Leipzig, and the differences with Hansi Flick.
Henrichs also analyzes his personal development and does not rule out returning abroad. He talks about the plight of his Leipzig teammate Timo Werner, the rise of Leroy Sané and three exceptional young talents with whom he regularly plays: Jamal Musiala, Florian Wirtz and Xavi Simons.
SPORT1: Benny, the 2:3 against Turkey was the fourth defeat at home this year. This set a negative record since 1956. Do we have to get used to the idea that Germany is further than ever from the top of the world? Or is it too much pessimism?
Henrichs: Defeat bothers us all a lot. She showed us how much work we still have ahead of us. Against Austria we now have the opportunity to show that we can do better. And we want to use that.
Henrichs does not believe there is a problem on the side
SPORT1: Does Germany have a problem with the full-backs?
Henrichs: I wouldn’t say that. Take the international match against France as an example: I think Jona (Tah) and I didn’t do too badly. We always have to see our performance holistically.
SPORT1: You already worked with Julian Nagelsmann in Leipzig. What are your first impressions of him as national coach?
Henrichs: Very good. Julián has a lot of expectations for us, he works at a very high level, especially in the tactical area. We have many video sessions. It’s challenging and demanding, but fun.
SPORT1: Nagelsmann speaks quickly and his exercises are sometimes complex. As a player, can you keep up with the pace without any problem?
Henrichs: In Leipzig I once tried to translate a somewhat more complicated exercise for Nordi Mukiele and Christo Nkunku. But then I didn’t keep up and left him alone. (laughs) But here I would say that Julian tries to keep it as simple and direct as possible. We haven’t been together for many days, so we have to condense the content and make sure we find quick and good solutions. There is definitely a lot of tension, both in meetings and in training. You can tell that the attention is focused 100 percent on football. At the same time, we also have freedom, we can go to cafes together on our free afternoons and we also do a lot of teamwork. It’s a good mix of serious and fun. It also benefits us that we have a young technical team in general.
SPORT1: Otherwise there would probably be no Kontra K or Dr. at the start of training. Dre runs, right?
Henrichs: I hope they play Burna Boy! (laughs) Seriously, I like the idea of listening to some songs while we warm up. Bring good vibes. When you go to the gym, you train with music. I think it’s great that our trainers say: This is how we do it now, no matter what outsiders think!
SPORT1: Did not participate in the trip to the United States in October due to injury. Is it true that Nagelsmann gave you homework?
Henrichs: Yes, I received mainly tactical information, including scenes directly from the USA match and later also from the Mexico match, to understand what the coach had in mind. For this we have an application with access to additional data that is useful to us. At RB Leipzig we also work with this.
SPORT1: What data is especially important to you in relation to your own game?
Henrichs: I always pay attention to my sprint speed. Now I have improved my top speed to 33.87 km/h in the match against Turkey. But I would definitely like to improve there too.
“Of course I want to play in the European Championship as a regular player”
SPORT1: Do you see yourself as a regular player heading into the Euro Cup?
Henrichs: Of course, my goal is to be a regular player at the European Championship. But there’s no point in talking about it. I have to offer myself on the field, ideally confirming my performance in the match against France in September. I don’t care which side he’s on. I can play on the right, but also on the left. I really enjoyed playing on the left against France.
SPORT1: Were there any full-backs that you had as a role model when you were younger?
Henrichs: Not precisely. I played in attacking midfield for a long time and my role model was always Ronaldinho. He admired him; I wanted to play as creatively and intelligently as he did. When I was 19 I retrained and then learned a lot from David Alaba. As a full-back, of course, much more defensive work is required of you, but that does not mean that you cannot use your offensive qualities. I love getting involved in attacks.
SPORT1: With Marco Rose you have matured to become an indispensable regular player in Leipzig, he trusts you a lot. Is he perhaps even the most important coach he has had in his career so far?
Henrichs: I would definitely include it among the most important. It wasn’t an easy start, I didn’t play with him much at first, but then we had an honest and open conversation. I’m glad I was able to convince him step by step.
SPORT1: Are you overall satisfied with your career path so far? Do you regret moving abroad to AS Monaco?
Henrichs: No, I don’t regret moving to Monaco at all. From a sporting point of view, things should have gone better, without a doubt. At that moment I thought: Okay, I’m going to France to be runner-up and play regularly at the highest level, nationally and internationally. In the end it turned out differently and yet I know that I have developed even more as a person. I learned a new language, which I will now also benefit from in Leipzig. I can communicate with all teammates, whether in German, English or French. I have matured as a person.
SPORT1: Would foreigners be attractive to you again?
Henrichs: In general, I am willing to travel abroad again. But I don’t put pressure on myself. I am happy in Leipzig and I have a contract there until 2025, that is my goal.
SPORT1: A teammate who is repeatedly associated with foreign clubs, but also with FC Bayern, is Florian Wirtz. You also left Leverkusen when you were young. What would you advise him?
Henrichs: I can’t give you any advice. That wouldn’t make any sense at all. Flo is a great player who has to make the best decision for himself. Everyone knows that Flo has a great future ahead of her.
Musiala, Wirtz or Xavi Simons? “I love all three”
SPORT1: In addition to Wirtz, you also play with Jamal Musiala in the national team and since this season you play against Xavi Simons in Leipzig. Who do you like more?
Henrichs: That’s a very good and difficult question, I love all three. They play a similar position but are different types of players. Flo has special moves, even when he dribbles, he has a great aerial game. Jamal has qualities in tight spaces that we haven’t seen before in Germany; he breaks up a lot of one-on-one situations. We need players like that in the national team. What impressed me about Xavi, apart from his football skills, was how well he immediately adapted to us in Leipzig. New league, new country, new language: many people can’t stand it at first. He does. Plus his technique and his effectiveness. It’s fun to play with him.
SPORT1: Are you surprised by how well Leroy Sané has developed?
Henrichs: No. Leroy shows what he showed in his youth at Leverkusen. I am happy for him because now he shows this consistency and obtains public recognition.
“Timo will fight again to get out of this situation”
SPORT1: Your Leipzig colleague Timo Werner is exactly the opposite.
Henrichs: The other day we sat together on the bench and talked a little about it. It’s not easy, in fact he started the season well and missed a bit, also due to illness. Timo will fight his way out of this again!
They know each other well: Benjamin Henrichs and Timo Werner
SPORT1: Which goalkeeper do you prefer to play with in the DFB? Manuel Neuer wants to be there again in the new year.
Henrichs: My game doesn’t change much if Manu, Marc or another of our goalkeepers is in goal. We have a lot of top-level goalkeepers and competition is part of it. Generally, it can be seen that nominations and positions are based on performance. Everyone wants to be at the European Championship, especially in their own country!
SPORT1:Are you tingling already?
Henrichs: Yes, this brings back memories of 2006. I was 9 years old then and my favorite player was Bernd Schneider. You could feel the euphoria throughout the country, each match was a day of celebration, the national team was the common denominator of the nation. I hope the same for our tournament next year!