Gelsenkirchen - Against Borussia Mönchengladbach on Friday, was named in FC Schalke 04's starting XI for the first time since the turn of the year. The 29-year-old certainly made the most of the opportunity, marking his 250th Bundesliga appearance with the only goal of the game to seal a 1-0 win over the Foals and take the Royal Blues above their guests in the standings.

It is no surprise, therefore, that the Swiss midfielder had a broad grin on his face when he spoke to bundesliga.com in the catacombs of the Veltins Arena after the Matchday 20 opener...

bundesliga.com: Tranquillo Barnetta, the winning goal on your 250th top-flight appearance - it doesn't get any better than this, does it?

Tranquillo Barnetta: I've only just heard that I had reached a milestone in terms of games. To be honest, I didn't know about it in advance, but when you get to celebrate it with a goal, then of course that's just perfect.

bundesliga.com: It was also a perfect game for Schalke - an early goal followed by a resolute defensive display...

Barnetta: It certainly makes things easier when you take an early lead, but I think that we wouldn't have changed our plan all that much even if we hadn't scored so soon. We could have finished off one or two of our counter-attacks better, then the game would have been over sooner. But if you see how we didn't let Gladbach or even Bayern have any shots on goal, then it shows we're doing a lot right.

bundesliga.com: Is Schalke's strength at the moment in defence - an area the coach has been working very hard on?

Barnetta: Yes, definitely! Everybody knows that they always have a man behind them and everybody runs for each other. If you are beaten by your man, it doesn't matter because they've also got to beat the man behind you. That makes it difficult for any opponents and it gives you a good feeling too. We've got that down to a fine art so far and that's how we've got to continue.

"They can have all the possession they want when they're not in a dangerous area. That doesn't bother us."


bundesliga.com: For you as a midfielder, it must be particularly demanding though...

Barnetta:(smiles) Yes, it is pretty demanding. You've got to run a lot, but that's just part of the game and, in the system we play, it's one of the fundamentals if we want to be successful.

bundesliga.com: Does it not bother you that your opponents have the better statistics? Gladbach had almost 70 percent possession...

Barnetta: Gladbach could never really find anything to threaten our compact defence tonight. They can have all the possession they want when they're not in a dangerous area. That doesn't bother us.

bundesliga.com: Was there ever a moment when you feared the game could take a turn for the worse?

Barnetta: No, I never had that fear. We knew that it would be difficult for Gladbach. We kept on trying to push out and not let them force us too deep. When you just stand on the edge of your own penalty area, then things can go wrong. But we are a team who defend as a team - very compact and united - so it never really gets dangerous for us.

bundesliga.com: There was not all that much for Timon Wellenreuther (l.) to do, but when there was anything dangerous in front of your goal, he belied his youth and inexperience...

Barnetta: Timon was truly fantastic! He was so cool in plucking the balls out of the air when they came towards his goal. Let's not forget that it's not easy for him as a young goalkeeper to be stood there at the back with all that responsibility, but he did really well and kept his cool.