Schalke's Daniel Caligiuri has been able to celebrate scoring five times against Borussia Dortmund in the Revierderby, the same number as former Royal Blue striker Kevin Kuranyi.
Speaking to bundesliga.com ahead of the Revierderby showdown on Matchday 26, Caligiuri discusses how special it would be to score and win at the Signal Iduna Park on Saturday, as well as Schalke's season so far and the man-management of David Wagner.
bundesliga.com: How are you handling the week in quarantine?
Daniel Caligiuri: "However we can. It feels like a training camp but not abroad. We have to keep to the regulations. That includes wearing a mask, keeping our distance, washing our hands, being alone in our rooms. We want to see this through and are looking forward to the restart this Saturday."
bundesliga.com: Is it possible to come into contact with your fellow teammates outside of the training sessions?
Caligiuri: "No because we're required to keep to the regulations. Everybody needs to decide what their routine will be during the day and in the evening. Most of us will be napping in the afternoon and in the evening, we have dinner at a distance. Apart from that, we each have to take care of ourselves because we're alone in our rooms."
bundesliga.com: You're able to train inside the Veltins Arena now and then. How has that happened?
Caligiuri: "We do whatever we're instructed to do by the coaching staff. In terms of getting used to playing in the stadium without the fans, we train in the arena. Otherwise, there are other locations for us to train. Training in the Arena is better than out in the open. It helps us to prepare for what is to come."
bundesliga.com: Is the scope of training inside the Veltins Arena to get used to playing without fans?
Caligiuri: "Exactly. It's very unusual; however, we're glad to be able to play again. Unfortunately, without fans. It'll hurt us but we need to look forward; stay positive and keep to the regulations. We need to react as a team."
bundesliga.com: The break from the Bundesliga has allowed you to recover from your injury. How have the last couple of weeks been for you?
Caligiuri: "That's true. If we can take any positives away from this crisis it would be that for me, personally, I was able to get back on track. I feel great. I'm back. I'm fit. Now I'm looking forward to the season to begin again."
bundesliga.com: Will you be fit for Dortmund?
Caligiuri: "A couple of weeks ago, there were slight inconveniences in the knee, however, everything is okay now. I've been taking part in all the training drills with the team for weeks now. I'm fully fit. I'm at 100%. I'm excited for the derby."
bundesliga.com: How excited are you for the Revierderby?
Caligiuri: "I'm very excited. First of all, because I'm fit again. Secondly, because the league is about to restart and last but not least because it's a derby. We're excited simply because football is restarting and the fact that the first game back is a derby makes it all the more exciting. Like I said, without fans, it'll be hard but there is nothing we can do about that. We'll have to push ourselves on to win the match."
Watch: Where will the Revierderby be won and lost?
bundesliga.com: Will the rivalry between the two teams still be felt even without the fans?
Caligiuri: "Definitely. On the field, I'm completely focused. Nothing else matters. Every player has their own means of motivating themselves for such an important game. The team can do that well. In training, you can see that everyone is raring to go. I hope that we can show that on Saturday."
bundesliga.com: What will it come down to during such extraordinary circumstances in the match?
Caligiuri: "It will be a big talking point for the upcoming matches. As I said, it'll be a focus on each individual to show that they can motivate and push themselves and each other to perform without the help of the fans. We used to be able to give one or two per cent more through the will of the fans. That won't be available to us now. We need to make sure we can stick our chests out and play as if our fans are there."
bundesliga.com: What significance does this derby have for you personally?
Caligiuri: "A derby is a derby. Obviously, it's a very important game for us and all of Schalke. We're looking forward to it. It'll be different but a derby is a derby. I'm glad that I can be a part of it, which wouldn't have been the case several months ago. We're looking forward to it and we hope to have the upper hand at the end."
bundesliga.com: You are one goal behind the Revierderby record. The record stands at five goals. Were you aware of that?
Caligiuri: "No, I saw yesterday on Instagram that [Kevin] Kuranyi scored five times. I didn't know what everyone else was on. I'll do my best. I'll try to break it. I still have a couple of years ahead of me. Let us see how many more times I'll be able to play against Dortmund."
bundesliga.com: Do you think you will break the record this coming Saturday?
Caligiuri: "That would be nice. I'll do everything I can to break it on Saturday. Who knows? However, even if I don't manage to do it this Saturday, the important thing is to win the game. We need to perform as a team. If we manage that, ultimately it won't matter who scored the goals."
bundesliga.com: From where do you summon your fire and passion to play in the Revierderby?
Caligiuri: "I'm passionate in every game but during the derby, you get a sense of just how important this match is for each individual Schalke fan. I take as much of that with me in terms of unleashing all my strength in the derby. I'm an emotional player on the pitch in this sense which fits well to the occasion at hand."
Watch: Caligiuri was the star of the show as Schalke beat Dortmund last season at the Signal Iduna Park!
bundesliga.com: Last season in the 4-2 against Dortmund you played extremely well. Describe that match from your point of view.
Caligiuri: "It's always nice to look back to such games. Back then, we had other worries; we were fighting at the opposite end of the table. It wasn't a good moment for us. Then came the derby. Everyone thought we were going to lose because they were fighting for the championship. However, the derby is its own game. It's a knockout game, so to speak. We were all well prepared. The fans were behind us. It was an indescribable feeling, also because we managed to fight off relegation. Luckily we're not in the same situation as last season. Therefore, we want to defend our current position this coming Saturday."
bundesliga.com: How was it to be celebrated as the hero of the derby?
Caligiuri: "It was a nice feeling. If you also win, it makes it even more fun. However, I'm the type of player that's pleased for the team. The team is the priority. It's nice to score but the three points are the most important thing. Along with the image of the club. I always try to play a role in helping the team to win."
bundesliga.com: How would you rate your current season?
Caligiuri: "We had a great first half of the season. Something no one expected of us. Then a lot happened. The injury list kept growing. Important players who had a great impact in the first half of the season: [Benjamin] Stambouli, [Salif] Sane. [Suat] Serdar also got injured. Then so did I. After that, our second half of the season didn't go so well. We tried to re-evaluate our tactics. We tried different systems. For us injured players, I don't want to say that the coronavirus was a blessing but it allowed us time to recover. We have a lot of our players back now. Now, the coach needs to decide who he picks. The rest is up to us."
Watch: How David Wagner revolutionised Schalke
bundesliga.com: What is your opinion of David Wagner?
Caligiuri: "A great guy! I have a good relationship with him. He's always open to conversations. If he ever has anything on his mind, he'll approach me. The same applies to me; I can approach him. He has an open ear for each individual. He tries to be fair to each player; something that isn't always easy for a coach. He does his job well. He's a great guy."
bundesliga.com: How are you handling Wagner's specific style of playing?
Caligiuri: "Superbly! There's fire in his style of play. I enjoy that. In the beginning, it was different for me as well. I'd played in a midfield five. Then came the new position. I needed one or two weeks, like any other player. Everyone is enjoying the system. Everyone wants to move forward with it; to push offensively. It has a mental aspect to it. Including a lot of power. That fits us Schalke boys."
bundesliga.com: Your contract will expire at the end of the season. Do you want to stay at Schalke?
Caligiuri: "I've often mentioned that I feel comfortable here. Then came this corona crisis. With the break, everything had to be put on hold. The talks were already there. I'll try to make a decision in these coming weeks. I hope that the talks will resume once more."
bundesliga.com: How important is it for you to have the chance during the remainder of this season to show what you can do?
Caligiuri: "I don't think I need to prove myself anymore. I've played around 300 Bundesliga matches already. Most people already know me. I'm top fit. I haven't reached the point where I'm thinking of stopping. I still have several years ahead of me. That's what I believe. As I
said, I will try my best. If I want to prove something to someone, that will be a great pressure. I think most people know me. I've been around for a while so I don't think I need to prove myself anymore."
bundesliga.com: How do you expect your team to handle Dortmund?
Caligiuri: "I expect us to win. That's our priority. I think Dortmund also want to win the game. It will be a very different type of game. I'm interested to see how it'll be playing football in front of empty stadiums for the next couple of weeks. Playing without fans is a different story. We will try to play as if the stadium were full. We'll try to push each other onwards. In the end, we'll hope that each player is ready to go the length and perform in such a way for us to win."
bundesliga.com: It isn't unusual to come together during difficult times. Has this happened for you (and the team) as well?
Caligiuri: "Definitely. It's apparent in training as well. We play like a team. When things are serious, we're serious together. When we're having fun, we have fun together. That's what defines a team. When things are serious, everyone is focused and gives their all. I think that's good. If we take into account what happens in training, we're on a good path."
bundesliga.com: How would you describe your chances of qualifying for European competition this season?
Caligiuri: "The quality is definitely there. We've been occupying European qualification positions for a while now. We'll do our best to defend it and also look to stay at the top."
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