Leipzig's Nagelsmann to practise coaching in face mask

Reuters , Friday 8 May 2020

Julian Nagelsmann
FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Champions League - Round of 16 Second Leg - RB Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur - Red Bull Arena, Leipzig, Germany - March 10, 2020 RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann celebrates after the match (Reuters)

RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, whose side will be chasing a first Bundesliga title when the German league resumes next weekend, is to practise coaching while wearing a face mask in order to be ready for a return to action.

The 32-year-old, known in his early coaching days as the ‘Baby Mourinho’, has a well-earned reputation for attention to detail and will use practice games this weekend to get used to the peculiarities of coaching amid the coronavirus health crisis.

Among the rules for the Bundesliga’s return -- the first major league to resume their programme after suspending play in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- are detailed instructions for coaches, including wearing a protective mask over their face as they work from the dugouts.

Nagelsmann told a virtual news conference on Friday that he expected it would prove difficult to shout instructions to his players, even though they will be playing in empty stadiums where his voice will easily carry.

The new rules allow coaches to remove their mask to shout instructions, but only if a minimum distance of 1.5 metres away from others.

“I’ll have to pull the mask off my face to scream and then put it back on again when I stop. That’s not going to be easy to co-ordinate,” he said.

Ever the perfectionist, he will trial wearing a mask when his team practise over the next few days ahead of their match at home to Freiburg next Saturday, their first competitive game back.

“I’m going to have to train a little," he said.

“I reckon it will have to be a face mask with extra strength elastic bands. Maybe I can get one with a large expansion joint,” he joked with reporters.

RB Leipzig, who eliminated Tottenham Hotspur in March to reach the Champions League quarter-finals, sit third in the Bundesliga, five points behind leaders Bayern Munich with nine games to play.

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