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27.09.21

Stable start - Vuskovic's eventful debut

Mario Vuskovic made his starting debut for HSV in the 2-2 draw against Nuremberg. As the best defender and with instructive experience in his luggage, the Croatian left the pitch after 90 contested minutes and received praise from the head coach.

The task was demanding: In yesterday's home match against 1. FC Nürnberg (2:2), HSV had to replace its head of defence and captain Sebastian Schonlau (yellow-red suspension) for the first time. Mario Vuskovic - the 19-year-old summer arrival and player on loan from Hajduk Split - was given the starting mandate in his place and, alongside homegrown Jonas David (21), formed by far the youngest centre-back duo of the 8th Second Division matchday. In fact, no other central defender was younger than the 1.89 metre tall Croatian on this match day. 

Conspicuous on and against the ball

Vuskovic left the pitch after 90 minutes with a good record: The Croatian won 15 of his 18 duels and thus 83.33 per cent of his duels - the best value among all field players. The U21 international also had the highest number of passes (88), delivered 94 per cent of his passes to the man, and was particularly successful in spreading the game with volleyed balls. In addition, Vuksovic collected the third most ball contacts (104) of all players after HSV wing-backs Jan Gyamerah (112) and Tim Leibold (106). The central defender, who was active both offensively and defensively, only committed one foul over the entire duration of the game, although it had serious consequences and led to a penalty after video evidence and the 1:0 lead for Nuremberg through Valentini (22nd). 

The newcomer, who had already played 67 professional games (four goals, two assists) before his transfer to his Croatian homeland, undoubtedly had to pay a lesson in this situation on the terrain of the 2nd Bundesliga, which was new to him, but remained stable in the further course of the game. The same was true of the entire HSV team, which scored a brace from Robert Glatzel (34th, 80th) to equalise both Valentini's lead and Nuremberg's 2-1 through Tempelmann (46th), and almost even made it 3-2 in the closing minutes when the goal post saved for the club. "We continue to mature, never give up and are always on the ball," said HSV head coach Tim Walter after the game. "The boys always want to win and basically we reward ourselves. I'm happy with the performance, even though we can always do better, of course." 

„Mario did it really, really well“  HSV-Trainer Tim Walter

In the end, that also applied to Mario Vuskovic, whose starting debut Walter rated positively despite the penalty he caused. "Mario did really, really well," praised the 46-year-old football coach. "At the same time, he can't be so far along yet that he has internalised everything within three weeks. We were aware of that. We just wanted to be brave and Mario showed that he can do that." Indeed, the 19-year-old, who has played 32 caps for Croatia's youth national teams (U17, U19, U21) so far, hinted at his great potential for development. Today's birthday boy Michael Mutzel (42) presented the loan player at his official introduction as a new HSV recruit as a young player who, with his calmness on and against the ball as well as good tackling skills and a special gift for anticipation, has many of the abilities of a modern central defender. The right-footed defender's performance yesterday as a starting player confirmed this assessment and, above all, underlined his ability to cope with demanding tasks.