Lucas Alario has been showing this season why his nickname on the Bayer Leverkusen training field is 'Goalario'.
With already one more goal to his name from the first 12 games of the current campaign than the seven he struck in the whole of 2019/20, the Argentine is enjoying one of his best ever seasons in the Bundesliga.
As a result, Leverkusen are riding a wave and - after beating local rivals Cologne 4-0 in midweek - they head into this weekend's top-of-the-table clash with Bayern Munich looking down on the record champions and on course to lead the way into 2021.
bundesliga.com caught up with the 28-year-old to discuss his and his club's purple patch, and to find out how long he believes it will last.
bundesliga.com: Lucas Alario, what's it like to be first in the table?
Lucas Alario: "Good, and we just want to keep on the same road we've been on. With humility, hard work, and that's it, we'll try to carry on like this and to keep it up. That's the hardest thing, but we’ll try and do it. But it's a long season. There's a lot of time left, and we have to take it game by game. We all like it, of course, to see us at the top of the table, but like I just said, there’s still over half the season left. It's a long season, and the next matchday everything could change. So we can't relax or think about it too much, because everything can change. There are a lot of teams separated by a few points. So we have to keep working and our attention has to be the same as it was to get us here. We have to keep trying to bring to the pitch what we work on during the week."
bundesliga.com: What are your goals for the season?
Alario: "You always have the highest expectations. You always want to win as many games as possible, but there are always games you can't win. That’s normal - that's football. So yeah, it's nice, but we're very relaxed because getting to this point is just part of the journey we've been on since the season started."
Watch: Lucas Alario, Leverkusen's X-factor
bundesliga.com: What are the reasons behind Leverkusen's success?
Alario: "I think we're an aggressive team - we try and win the ball back as quickly as possible. Sometimes we manage to do that and sometimes we don't, depending on how the other team plays. And when we have the ball we want to look after it. We want to play as many passes as possible between us, and then when it comes to attacking we want to be decisive and get something out of every attack. But the most important thing nowadays is the attitude: the team approaches every game in the same way. We can't change it, and we have to keep going in this way."
bundesliga.com: What do you make of your own form?
Alario: "At the start of this season I was getting far more games than in previous years. I’m just trying to take advantage of it and do as much as I can for the team. Luckily, things have gone my way and I'm trying to keep on that track, performing at my best level and doing my best for the team."
bundesliga.com: You weren't always playing regularly so what's changed?
Alario: "Obviously, I never stopped believing in myself and my quality. I've always trained in the same way. There isn't any - how can I say it - no other motive. I've always trained the same way, playing or not playing, and when I get my chance I've tried to take everything I've done in training and show it on the pitch, and try to perform as well as I can."
bundesliga.com: In the summer, you strengthened with the signing of Patrik Schick. How has he settled in?
Alario: "Yeah, good. We're a great group that are all trying for the same thing. We all want the best for the team. Patrik arrived recently. I think he's a young player with a lot of talent, lots of strengths, and he's already shown that in other teams. Even at his young age, he's played for a few teams, and it shows how good a player he is. I'm happy he's here. Both he and I try to give our best. We've not had the chance to play together yet but hopefully we will soon, and I'm sure we'll enjoy it on the pitch. We've not played together yet but that's the coach's decision on who plays up top. Like I said before, I'm happy he's with us because he's a great player who has a lot of quality."
bundesliga.com: This weekend you have a top-of-the-table clash with Bayern. Can you beat them?
Alario: "You have to play these games. We know their strength, the physical and technical quality they have all over the pitch. But we also have our game, and we've shown it against great teams. So we'll try and do our best to win the game."
bundesliga.com: And you come up against Robert Lewandowski…
Alario: "Yeah, there are great players, but I think the year he's had - as well as scoring so many goals, winning titles - nowadays I think he's one of the most complete and best players in his position."
bundesliga.com: Your own concern will be more with how to break through Bayern's defence…
Alario: "They're a great team - the best in the world at the moment and the holders of the Champions League. And they've shown it from the start to the end, doing great things. You really look forward to playing these games because they're great games against great players, and when you face great players you want to be on the pitch. At the end of the day it's 11 vs. 11, and we'll fight to play our game and win."
bundesliga.com: You're not the only Argentinian in the Bundesliga. What do you make of your compatriots who are playing in Germany?
Alario: "I think with Nico Gonzalez, [Mateo] Klimowicz, they're playing at a great level. Especially Nico, who's come from the national youth teams. He's scored goals, he returned to the national team, he scored against Dortmund. He's showing all of his potential, and for me he's a great player with a lot of quality. He's very quick, and I hope he and Klimowicz keep growing in the best way possible like they are."