Montpellier - has proven to be FC Schalke 04's all-round secret weapon off the bench this season, but in the final game of the UEFA Champions League group stages against Montpellier, the Finnish international was given a chance to impress in the starting line-up, playing off the shoulder of lone striker Ciprian Marica.

Though the 22-year-old refrained from talking up his own display, he was a key part of the Royal Blues' perpetual motion that was a constant thorn in the side of Montpellier's backline, providing a regular threat in front of goal. "I had two really big chances, both of which I probably should have converted. I didn't succeed though, so I can't really evaluate my performance," explained Pukki talking to bundesliga.com after the 1-1 draw with the reigning French titleholders.

However, the Scandinavian youngster was happy to discuss Schalke's successful group stage campaign - in which they finished top of Group B - head coach Huub Stevens' decision to rotate his starting line-up and the upcoming Bundesliga match in Suttgart.

bundesliga.com: Teemu Pukki, even if the draw in Montpellier was slightly fortunate come the end of the match, Schalke 04 deserved to win the group didn't they?

Teemu Pukki: Yes, definitely. We didn't lose a single match in the group stages. If a team manages to do that then they've certainly earned their success.

bundesliga.com: What made life so difficult in the game against the French side?

Pukki: Obviously the conditions on the pitch were far from optimal, but that wasn't the only thing. Montpellier played really well and gave everything they had. They had their chances to score, but so did we. Who knows how the match would have ended had I found the back of the net with my big chances.

bundesliga.com: How do you rate your own performance?

Pukki: I had two really big chances, both of which I probably should have converted. I didn't succeed though, so I can't really evaluate my performance.

bundesliga.com: Is it more difficult to motivate yourselves for a match when you've already secured qualification for the next round of the competition?

Pukki: No, we want to win every match. Especially considering that we haven't been as successful in our last few Bundesliga encounters.

bundesliga.com: Head coach Huub Stevens gave several players from the so-called second string a chance tonight. Was that the right decision?

Pukki: Yes, without a doubt. We've got a lot of matches to get through this season and certain players will definitely have made good use of having a brief respite. That will help us in the remaining matches before the winter break.

bundesliga.com: Will the draw give you the impetus going into the next match away to Stuttgart?

Pukki: I think so. Winning the group will give us another extra motivational boost. On Saturday we'll hopefully then show that in Stuttgart.

Interview by Michael Reis