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A completely different perspective for Nadiem Amiri

For the first time in his career, Nadiem Amiri had the opportunity to become German champion this season. Until end of January. Then the midfielder surprisingly moved from Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen to FSV Mainz 05, the penultimate team. The 27-year-old says that he made a decision out of conviction about his move out of the title race and into the fight to stay in the class. “If I can’t do my part, I wouldn’t be able to celebrate the championship like others,” he said, referring to the only eight appearances he made with the Werkself this season, only one of which was from the start.

In Mainz, after 211 Bundesliga, 36 Champions and Europa League and five senior international matches, a completely different perspective opened up for him. On the one hand, it was darker because of the impending fall into the second division, but on the other hand, it was more satisfying because it was clear that he would take on a completely different role – in fact, Amiri became a regular player straight away.

One reason for the Ludwigshafen native, whose professional career began at TSG Hoffenheim, to sign a contract with the 05ers until the summer of 2026 was Jan Siewert. He knew the coach from his time as a youth national player; Siewert worked for the DFB youth team at the time.

The joint efforts to remain in the class came to a quick end; The club parted ways with Siewert three games after Amiri’s signing. But the newcomer enjoys no less respect under his successor. “He is an exceptional player and a fantastic guy,” emphasizes Bo Henriksen. “He wants to have the ball, and he has to have the ball.” No one else in the squad can distribute the ball so well and has the eye and foot to put teammates in the spotlight so well.

Surprisingly, in the 1-0 win against FC Augsburg, the coach had placed his strongest man in the “double six” alongside “aggressive leader” Leandro Barreiro (Amiri: “He is a warrior”), from where they were supposed to build up the game together. That worked. “The two of them work fantastically together.”

Henriksen kept to himself on Thursday whether he would stick to this constellation at Bayer Leverkusen on Friday (8:30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the Bundesliga and on DAZN) or whether he would prefer a variant with two trained defensive midfielders and Amiri would move forward one row. There was a good reason why he, despite being a declared friend of public training sessions, had the team working behind closed gates on Wednesday – “we don’t want to reveal our tactics to the opponent”. Just this: “Everything we do, we have to do it compactly, in a block. And we have to be brave with and against the ball.”

“Now it’s our turn again”

The coach also considers Amiri’s decision to join Mainz to be courageous. “He came here to show how good he is, and he showed that on Saturday,” praises Henriksen. In fact, since his debut, the new man has been trying to fill the leadership role left vacant by injury-related absences and poor form. This is reflected in the statistics, among other things, by the free kicks that preceded Jonathan Burkardt’s opening goal in the 1-1 draw against Union Berlin and Sepp van den Berg’s winning goal against FCA.

Peter H. Eisenhuth, Mainz Published/Updated: Recommendations: 1 Peter H. Eisenhuth, Mainz Published/Updated: Recommendations: 1 Peter H. Eisenhuth, Mainz Published/Updated: Recommendations: 1

“Now it’s our turn again,” says Amiri, considering the gap to 1. FC Köln in the relegation zone has shrunk to one point. “Everything is in our own hands. We have the direct duels at home.” He counts Darmstadt 98, Cologne, but also Borussia Mönchengladbach in eight days; The team from the Lower Rhine could still be dragged into the relegation battle. “Anyone who doesn’t believe we can do it now will never believe it.”

Henriksen had already conveyed this belief to his players in the first few days, “and now it’s no longer just words,” he says, after actions followed in the form of the second win of the season. He is aiming for the next one at Bayer, knowing that he will be facing “a fantastic team” that has been unbeaten in 32 games and is “almost champions”. “But we have a lot of energy and strength and believe in our strength. We will do everything we can to attack again.”

That’s entirely in line with Nadiem Amiri’s spirit, who is looking forward to playing with the club for which he was active for four and a half years. “Everyone is looking for the means with which they can beat Leverkusen,” he says. “Putting yourself in the back is the worst solution, then they will tear you apart. We have to try to run high, force mistakes and win the ball early in order to have short routes to the goal.”

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