VfL have already had their first competitive match of the 2022/23 season with the 1-0 win away to Jena in the DFB Cup. On Saturday 6 August (kick-off 15:30 CEST), the Wolves turn their attentions to the new Bundesliga campaign. Ahead of the opening match against newly promoted Werder Bremen, VfL goalkeeper Koen Casteels took time out of his busy schedule for a brief interview, where he talked about pre-season training, getting the new league season under way and his personal goals.
Hi Koen. The Green-and-Whites will finally be getting the new Bundesliga season under way on Saturday. How much are you looking forward to it?
Koen Casteels: “Enormously. With so many training sessions and then no match at the end of the week, none of the players really like pre-season that much, so we’re all looking forward to it getting started.”
Now that pre-season is over and you got your campaign off to a successful start in the cup away to Jena, how are the coaching staff and squad feeling?
Koen: “The atmosphere is positive. If you compare the start of pre-season with where we are now, you can see for example how much progress has been made in terms of what the coach wants from us and how we’re trying to implement it. It’s looking a lot better now, and you could see that in the last two friendlies that we had. Now we’re just working on the details.”
Werder Bremen are the visitors to the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday. What are you expecting from the newly promoted club?
Koen: “Bremen are the classic side that’s just come up to the Bundesliga. They’re going to be feeling relieved to finally be back where they belong. Werder have always been a team that we’ve struggled with. We’ll need to be on the ball right from the start on Saturday. It’s definitely good that we’re kicking off with a home game and a chance to pick up three points straight away.”
You played for Bremen for half a season in 2015. That’s a while ago now, but are you still in contact with anyone from the club?
Koen: “I’m occasionally in touch with Christian Vander, who is the goalkeeping coach there. Other than that though, over the years people move around so now no-one’s left there from my time at the club.”
Looking ahead again to the forthcoming season – what are you hoping to get out of it?
Koen: “When you’ve had a season like the one we had last year, you know how much fun it can be when things go well, like they did in the three previous years, when we got to play in the Europa League and the Champions League. That’s where we want to be again but we also know that that will take some hard work, and also that every other team will be wanting to qualify as well. In general, what we should be looking for is to be a more solid team that is capable of aiming for that kind of league position.”