Hamburg - Hamburger SV once again boast a predator worthy of the name. Artjoms Rudnevs may have taken a little while to settle following his move to the Bundesliga from Lech Poznan last summer, but the 25-year-old Latvia international has since become something of a scoring guarantee for the Red Shorts.
Ten goals and four assists, including the one for Rafael van der Vaart's winner against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Saturday, have earned him a glowing reputation, not only in northern Germany. As far as Poland's Ekstraklasa top scorer is concerned though, who scores the goals is irrelevant as long as HSV keep winning.
Speaking to bundesliga.com after the weekend game, Rudnevs discussed the key to Hamburg's surge up the table and their chances of playing in Europe again next season.
bundesliga.com: Artjoms Rudnevs, it was an intense 90 minutes against Gladbach. Surely the relief come the final whistle was immense, wasn’t it?
Artjoms Rudnevs: Yes, because it was really hard work. We’re all delighted Rafa struck the ball so well. Overall, the team did a magnificent job.
bundesliga.com: Borussia came back at you strongly towards the end. Were you running out of steam a bit by then?
Rudnevs: No, we’re all top fit. The coach gets us perfectly prepared. We're having a lot of fun and we just love playing football.
bundesliga.com: And not seeing your own name on the scoresheet is probably easy to take given the result.
Rudnevs: Yes, that doesn’t bother me in the slightest. For us, these three points in front of our own fans were important. Whether I score, or whether it's Rafa or somebody else, doesn’t matter. The main thing is that we won the game.
bundesliga.com: It's only the second time this season that HSV have been able to win two games in a row. Does that give you an extra motivational boost now?
Rudnevs: We’re really pleased to have finally been rewarded for all the good work we’re doing in training. We’re really giving it everything during the week to get the best possible result on the weekend. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always worked out.
bundesliga.com: So what’s making HSV so successful right now?
Rudnevs: That’s a question for the coach. All I can say is that the success is based on hard work - training, training and more training.
bundesliga.com: The coach has protected the team, even in difficult times. Is that demonstration of faith important for you?
Rudnevs: It’s definitely important. Whether before, during or after the game, the coach believes in us and gives us a lot of self-confidence. It’s like an energy boost for us.
bundesliga.com: Even though you won’t like to hear the words Europa League, the table never lies and Hamburg are currently in a qualifying berth.
Rudnevs: That’s how things stand, but we’d be well advised not to talk about this. We’ve got 12 games left and want to win as many as possible - and then we’ll see where we end up.
Interview by Michael Reis