WJanis Blaswich has had a completely different professional life for the past five months. He has officially been a professional soccer player for eleven years, but if you ask him about the most beautiful and important moments of his career, all of the highlights fall into the recent past. The performances at Glasgow’s Celtic Park and the game at Madrid’s Bernabeú were absolute highlights. A lot of goals that I had set myself have been fulfilled in this short time,” said the 31-year-old goalkeeper from RB Leipzig.
Another one will be added this Wednesday, then Blaswich and Leipzig will welcome Manchester City, the English champions, in the round of 16 of the Champions League (9 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Champions League and on DAZN). The team of the famous coach Pep Guardiola, peppered with exceptional talents like Erling Haaland, Kevin de Bruyne or Ilkay Gündogan.
So with players who, like ordinary viewers, Blaswich only knows from television. “You don’t play against these people every day, it will be a very special game. But it’s also clear that we want to go one lap further,” he says. This requires “two games in which everything has to be right”, as Blaswich says – plus his reflexes. He has his strengths on the line, that was evident in all the matches he has played so far.
Blaswich wasn’t slated to play a pivotal part of the season, but what’s predictable in competitive sports? At the beginning of October, Peter Gulacsi, Leipzig’s captain and undisputed number one, was seriously injured. Torn cruciate ligament, six months break, according to the first prognosis. In the meantime, those responsible in Leipzig are assuming more. Blaswich moved into the Leipzig goal. He didn’t have time to mentally prepare for his new role. In a rhythm of three days, game after game, competition after competition. Bundesliga, DFB Cup, Champions League. From one moment to the next, Janis Blaswich lived what he always wanted to live: the existence of a regular at the top level.
Of course he didn’t expect it, at most he secretly hoped when he signed a contract with RB in the summer. He made a very conscious decision to move to Leipzig, although it was clear that he was only intended to play the role of substitute. And that he would give up his secure place as first goalkeeper that he held at Heracles Almelo. He played in the Netherlands for four years. “The time there was extremely important for me because I was able to present myself at a high level,” says Blaswich.
Previously always third division
In Germany he was granted that. At Borussia Mönchengladbach, his youth club, he did not make the leap to the professionals. He was awarded. To Dresden, to Rostock. Always third division. He rose with Dynamo, but then had to go back to Gladbach. He never made it into the Bundesliga. Therefore Almelo, therefore the Netherlands.
Despite all the practice in the neighboring country, the desire to play in the Bundesliga remained. But not at any price, not at every location. “If it had been another club, I would certainly have thought about it and probably decided differently,” says Blaswich about the offer from Leipzig. He was attracted by the professional environment, the good conditions and the prospect of getting a few stakes due to the large number of games. Now he’s been in goal for almost the entire season. Gulacsi’s return is unlikely this season. After his operation on the cruciate ligament, there were complications, bacteria got into the knee. A second operation followed in January.
Unlike FC Bayern, who brought in a high-quality replacement in the person of Yann Sommer after Manuel Neuer’s injury, Leipzig continues to rely on the original number two even after Gulacsi was out for a long time. A small side note: Blaswich is still in contact with Sommer to this day, both know each other from their time together in Gladbach and maintain a friendly relationship.
In Leipzig, too, cooperation and collegial interaction are important to him. “The trust I feel is great. But it’s also not the case that you get something for free in competitive sports. I worked hard for this through good performances,” says Blaswich. It now has to be confirmed. In the Champions League. On the biggest possible stage.