Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle will be “cheeky” about the round of 16 against FC Bayern. Once upon a time, the native of Nürtingen himself played a big duel with the Munich team, then fate struck and he had to rethink. As a young coach, he is now also inspired by the All Blacks.
With Salzburg in the Champions League, he now also wants to annoy FC Bayern: Matthias Jaissle.
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World Champion? Actually, why not? In March 2009, Rio’s title was still five years away and, apart from Philipp Lahm, the defense from the eventual final still have a long way to go. Jerome Boateng won’t get his first international match until autumn, Mats Hummels has to wait almost another year for it, Benedikt Höwedes even two more, Shkodran Mustafi kicks for Hamburger SV’s U17s. At that time, a young guy from Hoffenheim was considered a man of the future at the DFB: Matthias Jaissle.
However, the promise only lasted until March 22, 13 years ago, and TSG’s home game against Hannover. Hansi Flick, then Jogi Löw’s assistant, sits in the stands in the brand new Sinsheimer Stadion and observes Jaissle, a central defender trained by Ralf Rangnick, fast attack, good opening of the game, strong in the air, extremely willing to learn. Flick writes down his impressions above, below Jaissle twists his knee badly. Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament, the beginning of the end as a pro, just under a week before his 21st birthday.
It took a year and a half before he made a comeback, which was followed by meniscus surgery and ankle problems, and finally the Achilles tendon ruptured. At the age of 26 and only 31 Bundesliga games, his playing career is over. The memories of promotion to the Bundesliga and the furious autumn championship of 2008 remain. But the moment when the doctor told him: “It won’t work anymore” has an even greater impact on Jaissle.
“Ralf saw a coach in me even before I knew anything about it”
After that he “fell into a hole”, says Jaissle, to this day he thinks it is “a great pity not knowing where my limit would have been”. He stopped playing football in 2014, the year Boateng, Hummels, Höwedes and Mustafi celebrated their greatest triumphs in the Maracana. It took Jaissle months to pull himself together and take several courses at the same time, including a bachelor’s degree in sports business management. “Just playing golf and meeting friends would have gotten a bit boring.”
Jaissle familiarizes himself with scouting and deepens his knowledge of creating game analyses, eventually becoming a youth coach at Rangnick in Leipzig. “Ralf already saw a coach in me when I didn’t even know about it,” says Jaissle. He assisted Alexander Zorniger at Bröndby in Copenhagen for two years and then returned to the can company. Only in the academy and after a few months as head coach of FC Liefering, the Red Bull farm team in the second division in Austria, did Jaissle surprisingly rise to succeed Jesse Marsch in Salzburg last spring.
“Brave, cheeky and self-confident” against the “outstanding package” Bavaria
It’s an experiment. “Football of tomorrow” is the motto in Salzburg, it sounds like a laboratory for the future. The 33-year-old Jaissle plays in a squad with an average age of less than 23 years, including a dozen teenagers, talents from Croatia, the USA and Mali. German striker Karim Adeyemi has risen to become a top star, but Brenden Aaronson and Mohamed Camara will not be playing in Austria for much longer either. Just against Jaissle’s former club Bröndby in the play-offs in August, they made it into the group stage of the Champions League. With ten wins in the first ten competitive games, he set a new club record as a coach.
In the red-white-red Bundesliga, Salzburg is in first place today as confidently as it should be, on Friday there was a 2-1 win at Rapid Vienna in the first game after the winter break. In the Champions League, the club made it to the round of 16 for the first time with the youngest team in the history of the competition, finishing second in the Wolfsburg group behind Lille OSC. And there it is on Wednesday (9 p.m., LIVE! at kicker) at home in the first leg against Bayern Munich.
Jaissle wants to tackle the matter “bravely, boldly and confidently”, as he announces in an interview with kicker. Because of course his team also has the chance to annoy the great power from Munich on an outstanding day. “The Bayern squad is top quality from start to finish, plus a world-class coach, that’s an outstanding package,” says Jaissle respectfully.
There are some things Jaissle hated as a player
He still knows Julian Nagelsmann, who is only a year his senior, from Hoffenheim times, every now and then they write to each other. “You can only take your hat off to his coaching career. First Hoffenheim was saved in a very difficult situation and taken to the Champions League, then also successfully in Leipzig, and now again outstanding work at the largest club in Germany. All that at this age. Simple just strong like Julian does.” But Jaissle himself hardly needs to hide.
Attacking the opponent early on “to stress them out as much as possible” is his plan, even against Bayern. Aggressive pressing and counter-pressing – he practiced that under Rangnick himself to the point of exhaustion. But not everything was better before, there were some things he hated as a player. “Video sessions that last longer than an hour. Or forced team building measures.” Also the white water rafting and the inviting hut evenings in the training camp at the Wilder Kaiser.
In 2008, Jaissle keeps Klose in check, but arrives too late for Toni
Jaissle wants to do things differently. The young Salzburg talents also pay penalties if they are late. But there is also an employee box in the professional wing, from which players can draw wishes from the employees and fulfill them. He is particularly interested in the topic of leadership. “I always try to think outside the box and talk to business executives, for example, or get inspiration from extreme athletes.” He also likes to read non-fiction books and biographies, for example about brain research, about Apple founder Steve Jobs or about the All Blacks, the New Zealand rugby team. “You learn a lot about cohesion and team leadership.” Because he not only guides his young players, but is also responsible for a staff of 30 employees.
Luca Toni shoots in against Hoffenheim in December 2008 to win 2-1 – Matthias Jaissle (back) comes too late.
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They are all looking forward to the duel with the big FC Bayern. Jaissle himself knows it from his playing days and calls it “the biggest game of my career”. Back in December 2008, the match between sensational leaders Hoffenheim and Munich was broadcast in over 160 federal states. It’s a fast-paced Wild West game in the arena, with Rangnick wanting “not the shirts, but the scalps” of the opponents. Jaissle largely keeps Miroslav Klose in check, but comes two steps too late when Luca Toni makes it 2-1.
In the round of 16, his young outsiders should now be better on the ball. The young coach is often anyway. He can no longer do competitive sports today because of the Achilles tendon, but Tiger Jaissle can still do the coaching zones. “My playing career was so short, so maybe I’ll catch up on the sidelines now. That way at least I’ll still have some mileage.” Under he stays fit. His path as a coach has only just begun.
You can read a long interview with Salzburg coach Matthias Jaissle and much more in the new kicker special on the knockout phase of the European competitions. Order now in stores or here directly with free shipping.