Lars Stindl has told bundesliga.com that Borussia Mönchengladbach do not consider themselves to be title candidates, despite sitting third in the standings after 21 matches.
And despite dropping points at home for the first time in 2018/19 in last weekend's 3-0 defeat to Hertha Berlin, the Foals are still regarded by some as contenders to claim a sixth Bundesliga title and first since 1977. Not by club captain Stindl, however.
bundesliga.com caught up with the 30-year-old talisman ahead of Gladbach's top-six showdown with Eintracht Frankfurt...
bundesliga.com: With nine wins, Gladbach had a 100 per cent home record until the defeat to Hertha. It means you missed the chance to level 1983/84's ten-match winning run on home soil. What happened?
Lars Stindl: It's disappointing because we lost and didn't play well. The record is only of secondary importance. We struggled after going behind and deserved to lose, so the focus should be on how to improve. These things can happen in such an evenly matched league as the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com: Some experts have said they see Gladbach as title candidates, and coach Dieter Hecking believes that may have put added pressure on the younger players...
Stindl: We've never seen ourselves as title candidates. Obviously people will talk - it's unavoidable, but it's not a problem for us. We have younger players in the team, but there are enough older and experienced guys to put these kind of things into context. And on Sunday we've got another huge challenge ahead of us away to Frankfurt...
bundesliga.com: Frankfurt have one of the best forward lines in the league, in Sebastien Haller, Luka Jovic and Ante Rebic. For a footballing and an offensive-minded team like Gladbach, is attack the best form of defence?
Stindl: We definitely want to play our way in Frankfurt. We all know about the strength of their attack. What really impresses me about the front three is how much emphasis they put on team spirit and how much they say they benefit from the good defensive organisation of the team.
bundesliga.com: Frankfurt are one of three or four teams behind Gladbach and RB Leipzig in the hunt for Champions League football. Does Frankfurt's front three make them your most dangerous rivals in the race for a top-four finish?
Stindl: We haven't got any rivals (laughs), because we're trying not to look at it as us being in contention for the Champions League places. We're taking it game by game. Obviously we all want to be as successful as possible and, preferably, win every game - but we have to keep cool and be realistic. We mustn't forget that we've had to work really hard for everything so far, but that doesn't change the fact that we're proud of where we are. Forty-two points after 21 games is a huge return for us.
bundesliga.com: After the game in Frankfurt, you've got two home games against Wolfsburg and Bayern. The win in Munich was your first outing since April following a serious injury...
Stindl: We played really well in Munich after a difficult opening. It was also nice for me to score on my first game back. What matters most, though, is the success of the team.
bundesliga.com: Gladbach have played very well against Bayern in recent seasons. Why do Bayern seem to struggle against Borussia?
Stindl: I think you always need a bit of luck in games against Bayern. And, as a player, you have to play to the limit in order to exploit any mistakes they might make.
Watch: Highlights of Gladbach's swashbuckling win in Munich
bundesliga.com: Do you think Bayern can catch leaders Dortmund?
Stindl: We'll have to see what happens in the weeks ahead, but I'm sure the title race will go down to the wire. The fact is, Dortmund have played brilliantly so far and have been able to keep a resurgent Bayern at arm's length - at least for now. That can only be good for the league.
bundesliga.com: Who has surprised you so far this season?
Stindl: There are some good sides jostling for postions behind Dortmund and Bayern - like us and Leipzig. It's a bit of a surprise to see Frankfurt and particularly Wolfsburg, after their difficulties in recent seasons, back in the mix.
Lars Stindl was talking to Andreas Kötter
Who are the Bundesliga's captains in 2022/23?
bundesliga.com introduces the men wearing the captain's armbands this coming season…
When do clubs return from the winter break?
Here’s the full overview of what the 18 teams have planned before action resumes on 20 January 2023…
Yann Sommer: The man to stop Ronaldo?
The Gladbach and Switzerland goalkeeper has a habit of stifling the best in the business...