Gelsenkirchen - The term 'baptism of fire' barely does justice to Johan Djourou's first outing in Germany's top flight last Friday. Lining up for Hannover 96 after joining on loan from Arsenal earlier this month, the Swiss international defender got the full Bundesliga experience first-hand in a nine-goal thriller against FC Schalke 04.
Speaking after the final whistle, the 26-year-old gave his thoughts on the 5-4 goal-fest, where Hannover go from here and the differences between the Bundesliga and the Premier League.
Question: Johan Djourou, the 5-4 defeat against Schalke was your first Bundesliga game. How would you summarise it?
Johan Djourou: It was a crazy game but it would have been more fun if we'd won at the end. Up front we did well and took our chances but we had real trouble getting back behind the ball and in defence in general. When you look back at the goals we conceded you have to say that they were all avoidable. We just weren't attentive enough.
Question: Were you shocked that the team conceded five goals?
Djourou: It was clear to see that we still have a lot of work to do. I think the team has great potential but in certain situations little things were missing and that's what makes the difference. I'm sure we can still improve, both on the pitch and in the standings, but we need to work hard for it.
Question: In the warm-up matches, Hannover always kept a clean sheet with you in the side…
Djourou: It's annoying but that's the difference between a friendly and a competitive match. This match was an acid test for us. Schalke didn't play badly, but the goals they scored weren't so good that we didn't stand a chance. As I just said, we could have avoided conceding all of the goals and our individual errors invited Schalke to score. We can't afford to make the kind of mistakes we made.
Question: What did you make of your partnership with Mario Eggimann in central defence?
Djourou: I think we make a good team in the centre of defence and complement each other well, but it was the first game we've played together for Hannover over 90 minutes and I believe we can still improve.
Question: You didn't play too much at Arsenal in the last few months. Do you think you're lacking a bit of match practice?
Djourou: I did go the full distance in a couple of internationals for Switzerland in that time, but of course I'm delighted to have the opportunity to play again regularly and I'm happy to have got my first competitive game for Hannover under my belt. I hope I can play more consecutive matches now. I think things will get better game by game and I'll adapt to the Bundesliga quickly.
Question: How does the Bundesliga compare to the Premier League?
Djourou: They have a lot in common. The tempo is very high in both leagues and the players have great technique. I think the English and German leagues are very similar. Alongside the Premier League, the Bundesliga is the most attractive league in the world and is a good place for any player to come to.
Question: Next up is VfL Wolfsburg. Where do Hannover go from here?
Djourou: I'm sure we'll pick up some points in the next few games, especially at home but also on the road. It says a lot for our attacking play that we scored four goals against Schalke. If you can do that you needn't fear anyone. In our next match we need to work on raising our game in both areas - both defence and attack. I'm convinced we'll improve at the back from game to game.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen.