Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 5 June 2020

Al Wasl's Christian Trasch wishes for Bundesliga's success and 'normality'

Dubai-based former Wolfsburg player glad to see return of football

Christian Trasch will sit at home this weekend in his apartment in Dubai and, just like the last, watch a pandemic-impacted Bundesliga with vested interest.

The Al Wasl midfielder, 32, spent a significant chunk of his professional career in the country’s lead division, initially at Stuttgart and then with Wolfsburg, making Saturday’s home match between the latter and Borussia Dortmund all the more appealing.

Like most, Trasch is simply happy that major European football is back. He understands the caution that surrounded the Bundesliga’s comeback last weekend, and the need at present for "ghost games" – matches played without fans.

But, overall, he sees Germany's Project Restart as a positive. For Trasch, it's a sign that some semblance of normality may be returning.

“The coin has two sides,” he says. “OK, some say it’s more important to bring the other life back – small operations, like restaurants owners – but others say they love that football is coming back because then slowly normal life is coming back also.

“I think it’s a good sign for the people, for the population. It shows that, while the virus is really dangerous, we can live with it at the moment. And I think the league has created a really good concept.”

Trasch echoes recent comments made by Toni Kroos, the former Bayern Munich midfielder now at Real Madrid, that if the game in a country as advanced as Germany couldn’t ensure football’s safe return, then no other league could.

Having spent more than a decade in senior German football, Trasch retains a number of connections there. He has spoken often recently to Marcel Schaefer, one of his closest friends who now serves as Wolfsburg's sporting director, midfielder Maximilian Arnold, Sonny Kittel at Hamburg and Sven Ulreich at Bayern.

Trasch has been eager to check the players' pulse: how has coronavirus crisis impacted them? The “ghost games” and the social distancing and surgical masks. The testing and the restricted training. Were there any reservations about returning?


Bundesliga resumes


“The guys I talked with were happy to be back playing,” Trasch says. “Because they love football, they’ve a passion for football. A first step without fans is OK, but for sure normally they’d want to play with them there.

"They don’t know when fans will be back; nobody knows what the situation brings. They said 'OK, it’s different', but they’re happy to be back on the pitch.

“They didn’t express any concerns. They feel really safe because they're tested two times per week, and all the training is on video. If there’s one positive case, they check the video to see who was close by, and then test those guys next.

“These players said they feel really, really safe. But in the third league in Germany, 10 of the 20 teams said they won’t play. There are players who said they're afraid to play football again. So it’s different between the leagues.”

This far removed – Trasch signed for Wasl in January and, like his current peers, is awaiting the resumption of the Arabian Gulf League – he’s not sure how he would feel himself.

“It’s difficult to say,” he says. “For the players it’s a good feeling to be back; for the German people, most of them are also happy that football is back.

“It’s the same as here: all the players will be happy when we can play again, when we can train again. But nobody knows.”

Trasch acknowledges that, for the majority of clubs, a return was not just wanted, but necessary. It was estimated the German game could lose up to €1 billion (Dh4bn) if the season had been abandoned. Futures were at stake.

The pandemic has highlighted football's parlous state. Trasch hopes it serves as a wake-up call, too.

“For me, I cannot understand it: in Germany, we say 'you cannot live from the hand to the mouth'. What you earn, you spend," he says. "In the future, I think a lot of clubs will be more careful with their money.

"It's hard to imagine some Bundesliga clubs saying ‘if there’s a lockdown we cannot stay alive for four or five months’. It’s a sign they must be more careful from now.

“I hope we take something from this situation – from this virus – and say there cannot be transfers for €200 million any more. I hope we think more about it and say ‘right, it’s time to come back to the basics’.”

For now, though, Trasch will sit this weekend in his Dubai apartment and cheer on his former club against Dortmund. Sixth against second; behind closed doors, but in full view of the footballing world.

“It’s a little bit crazy to watch this,” Trasch laughs. “You hear the coaches, the players crying. As players, it’s different, but once the match starts you forget about it. It’s just good that we can finally watch again and that the Bundesliga is attracting new fans.

“I hope the match will be exciting. I spent seven years in Wolfsburg, my two daughters were born there, so of course, I hope they win.”

Updated: May 22, 2020 04:32 PM



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