Summary

  • Brandt targets another top-three finish with Leverkusen.
  • "Bayern and Dortmund are in a very good place, but so are we."
  • Hoping to win a medal with Germany at the 2016 Olympics.

With Olympic, Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League football on the horizon, Bayer 04 Leverkusen's Julian Brandt has much to look forward to.

In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 20-year-old midfielder previews what he hopes will be a productive campaign for club and country.

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bundesliga.com: Julian Brandt, Bayer 04 Leverkusen have been back in pre-season training for a while now and during the week drew 1-1 against FC Porto. What did you make of the game?

Julian Brandt: In friendlies like these, you get a really good idea of what's still missing. A lot will happen in the weeks ahead and at the training camps.

Brandt helped Leverkusen to a third-place finish in 2015/16.

bundesliga.com: The summer break was particularly long this year. What did you get up to?

Brandt: For me, it was my first proper break for six or seven years. I had my training plan with me and did some stuff on my own. It was time to do things that you can't normally do. I met up with a lot of friends, and eventually started playing again.

bundesliga.com: The set-up looked really good against Porto. Bayer have not made many changes to the squad. How do you see the new season?

Brandt: The core squad is at it was, with the exception of Christoph Kramer. The newcomers will be well integrated. That won't be a problem. The players know what it's about. The newcomers will learn. The lads that have come in from Hoffenheim or Ingolstadt didn't play all that differently before.

"Kevin Volland has scored a lot of goals in friendlies. It's a signing that'll definitely pay off."

bundesliga.com: Former Hoffenheim striker Kevin Volland now plays for Leverkusen. What's he like as a person?

Brandt: He's a good guy. He's integrated well and has scored a lot of goals in the friendlies. He's a good young signing for us and one that'll definitely pay off.

bundesliga.com: He's also said that he can envisage winning titles with Leverkusen. Hertha head coach Pal Dardai has also tipped Bayer 04 to win the Bundesliga title. What do you make of those declarations?

Brandt: It's no secret that Leverkusen long for a title, but you have to be realistic. Bayern and Dortmund are in a very good place right now, but so are we. I think the DFB Cup is always on the agenda for us. We were unlucky to go out last year. We have to learn from that.

The 20-year-old is part of the Germany squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

bundesliga.com: Next week you fly to Brazil with Germany's Olympic football team. Then you’ve got the Bundesliga. What are your objectives for the season?

Brandt: We really want to win a medal at the Olympics. I think we've got a good side. We're definitely not going there just to see the sights that Rio has to offer. It'd be great if we can come back with a medal. After that, it's straight into the season. For me, it'd be good if we can pick up where we left off last season.

bundesliga.com: What else do you want to take with you from the Olympics experience?

Brandt: We'll miss the opening ceremony because we've got our first game the day before. We'll be playing every three days and probably won’t have much time to watch the other events on site. In an ideal situation, we'll have six games to play over the two weeks.

"We want to win a medal at the Olympics."

bundesliga.com: You've always qualified for the Champions League with Leverkusen - last season you did so directly after finishing third. Is that also the target for the coming campaign?

Brandt: Yeah, that should be our aim - preferably directly by finishing third. That would fulfil expectations at Leverkusen.

Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski