Grischa, a quick lookback at the 4-1 away victory over VfB Lübeck in the DFB-Pokal: what lessons have you learned from that triumph over a very aggressive opponent?
“It gives us a great deal of tailwind. Especially when you see how many teams struggled in the first round. In the DFB-Pokal, it’s about winning the match and reaching the next round – we’ve managed that. It was the game of the year for Lübeck and they were motivated accordingly. But we held firm well following the initial difficulties and deservedly and comfortably won the game in the end.”
Despite the deficit, you did not allow yourselves to be knocked off your stride and demonstrated resilience – a quality that many didn’t necessarily attribute to you last season…
“But in the closing stages of last season in particular, you could already see that we also functioned under extreme pressure. We could now build on that in Lübeck and impose our game despite the deficit. It was clear to us that we would get our chances – and then we would have to take them. We never panicked but clearly continued to follow our plan.”
Now the Bundesliga is finally starting again. Are you eagerly anticipating the start?
“I’m unbelievably delighted that the Bundesliga is starting up again. There are few things better than starting the new season with a home game against SC Freiburg. The team is looking forward to it; I’m fired up, Saturday can come.”
Is it an advantage for you that you’re starting off the season with a home game?
“It’s naturally always nice to start with your own fans behind you. I hope this will give us an extra boost in the first round of matches, because at the start of the season you never really know where you stand and what shape your opponents are already in. Freiburg generally have a very strong team, play good football and have strengthened their team in the summer too. It will therefore be an exciting affair.”
What do you expect from the coming season?
“It is always important to start the season well. I therefore don’t want to state a concrete objective for the season, but rather remain focused and think game by game. We played a good pre-season but are still in a certain phase of discovery in which several aspects of coordination can still be improved on the pitch. That’s exactly what we’re working on every day and I’m optimistic about the coming weeks and months. I just want to win matches and, ideally, to get started with that against Freiburg.”
Do you have personal objectives for the new season?
“I’d above all like to stay healthy, play as many matches as possible and settle into my rhythm and my flow in the process – that’s very important in my position. There are also a few other personal goals, but I’ll keep them to myself for now.” (laughs)
You were appointed the new vice captain last week. What does that mean to you?
“It’s an unbelievably big honour for me to be part of the captaincy team in my second year. I hope that Oli (Baumann), Andrej (Kramarić) and I handle it well, that we can pull the rest of the team along and all head in the right direction together.”