Hamburg - Eight goals in nine Bundesliga outings is simply not good enough, according to Bayer 04 Leverkusen midfield general Christoph Kramer.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com following Saturday's frustrating 0-0 draw with Hamburger SV, the 11-time Germany international opens up about die Werkself's struggles in front of goal, discusses Ömer Toprak's unexpected return from injury and looks ahead to Tuesday's clash with AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League...
bundesliga.com: Christoph Kramer, that's now four games in a row that Leverkusen are unbeaten. It's also your second draw on the spin. What do you make of the result against HSV?
Christoph Kramer: We simply have to start scoring again. That way we'll avoid second halves like the one in Hamburg. Again we played well and created good chances in the first half, and then in the second half it was disjointed, there was a lot of action in midfield and not much happening in front of goal. If we take our chances in the first half, it doesn't need to be like that. Unfortunately we passed them up and so 0-0 is about right.
bundesliga.com: It was a really intense game with a total of eight yellow cards, two of which went to Leverkusen players. Last season's match at the Volksparkstadion was also a slugfest. How was it for you?
Kramer: The first half was alright. We had plenty of set pieces in and around goal and had chances to score. It was pretty erratic in the second half and Hamburg committed a few tactical fouls when we got in promising positions. Unfortunately too much of the game was played out in midfield.
bundesliga.com: Dortmund, Schalke and Wolfsburg - your fiercest rivals for the Champions League places - all won their games. Leverkusen, meanwhile, are on 14 points in eighth. Are Bayer in danger of losing touch with the top?
Kramer: Wins don't come easily. The game today was a real battle. Looking at the other results, a win would have been important. Wins like the one in Hanover, where we won despite not playing well, are worth their weight in gold. We really wanted to win today, then the table would have looked really good for us. It's a chance wasted. We have to take more of our chances, so that we take the lead again. That'll make it easier for us.
bundesliga.com: Leverkusen captain Ömer Toprak made a surprise return from injury and then started in a rather unfamiliar position alongside you in defensive midfield. He won an impressive 76 per cent of his attempted challenges. How would you rate his performance?
Kramer: He has only been training with the team for a week and a half and then he's thrown in at the deep end in an unfamiliar position. In the first half, especially, he did a really good job. Understandably, he ran out of steam a bit in the second.
bundesliga.com: You've got AS Roma in the group stages of the Champions League on Tuesday night. That's not much time to prepare, is it?
Kramer: From Sunday, we'll be working hard on our preparations for the Roma game. We've already shown this season that we can create chances against anyone - even Barcelona. We'll try to impose out game on the Italians. I think it'll be a really intense game. I think it'll be uncomfortable for Roma to play against us.
bundesliga.com: What do you make of your position in the group? The games against Roma could be decisive...?
Kramer: Yes, we expected the two Roma games to be key. At the moment, though, we're in a better position and obviously want to qualify from the group.
Alexander Barklage reporting from Hamburg