Marcel Sabitzer is hoping there will be more reasons for Borussia Dortmund to celebrate in 2024. - © IMAGO/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon
Marcel Sabitzer is hoping there will be more reasons for Borussia Dortmund to celebrate in 2024. - © IMAGO/Anke Waelischmiller/Sven Simon
bundesliga

Marcel Sabitzer: "Our aim is Champions League qualification"

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Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, Marcel Sabitzer says he is confident Borussia Dortmund can shake off a sluggish first half of the campaign and can make a sprint for the line again this season to ensure a top-four finish and UEFA Champions League qualification.

Dortmund were pipped to the Meisterschale by Bayern Munich on goal difference after a jaw-dropping final 90 minutes of the 2022/23 season. That it was such a close-run thing was due to Dortmund’s sensational form in the second half of the campaign.
BVB had finished the Hinrunde in fifth place – the position they currently find themselves in – but picked up five more points than any other team to push Bayern all the way to the season’s final whistle.
Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com, the Austria international is bullish about how Edin Terzić’s side can once again find that elusive blend of quality and consistency in their performances down the home stretch of 2023/24.
bundesliga.com: You've travelled a lot in your career, haven't you?
Marcel Sabitzer: "Yes, I travelled around a bit in the first few years of my professional career, but there were places such as [RB] Leipzig where I stayed longer. I think I was there for six or seven years as we came up from the second division. After that came three clubs in two years so I’ve experienced both extremes, but I think I will be here longer this time."
Watch: The story of the 2022/23 season's final day

bundesliga.com: How would you assess BVB's current situation?
Sabitzer: "It’s definitely mixed. If you look at our experiences in the league in the last few weeks, then it certainly wasn’t enough. We definitely did not pick up enough points and I think we managed just one win in the last eight games. With the expectations and the quality that we have, this is simply not enough. As I previously said, we have to analyse and work through this in order to improve, but we also had a lot of very good games in which we beat difficult opposition. This is why the situation is a little strange, but we are certainly not satisfied."
bundesliga.com: There were also good games, so does this make it a bit more difficult to understand, even for you?
Sabitzer: "Yes, of course. For example, we played in the Champions League during the week and qualified top of a very difficult group. We played some very good games in which we were dominant and demonstrated what makes us so strong, and we deserved our wins. Then, three days later, we played in the league and it just didn’t click.
"Sometimes you can’t explain it when you’re standing on the pitch and you have the feeling that nothing is working today. We need to work through this as a team and stick together because there is a lot of noise coming from outside. We are a good team with a positive spirit and clear communication, so we want to be more successful in the league, because our aim is definitely to play in the Champions League again."
Watch: Super Sabitzer skills

bundesliga.com: What do your new assistant coaches bring to the table?

Sabitzer: "The processes on the pitch during training have changed a bit because Nuri [Şahin] and Sven [Bender] take on half of the responsibility, and lead some of the drills to try to teach us some new things. We try to then implement these ideas and it gives us new impetus, which can certainly help. They both have a lot of experience, so we are very happy to have them with us and we all want to work towards the same aim."

bundesliga.com: Last year during the winter break, the topics surrounding BVB were very similar. Is this the same amongst the squad?

Sabitzer: "You cannot avoid being confronted by this, because we’ve been in this situation a few times now where we did not perform well enough in the first half of the season. Last season, we worked very hard in a training camp in Marbella, and laid the foundations for a good second half of the season. However, it’s not the case that we sit in the dining room and talk about the situation. We are here to prepare ourselves well, and to discuss certain topics. We want to lay another good foundation so that we're well prepared, and then it's down to us how many wins we can pick up in the second half of the season."

Former Borussia Dortmund players Nuri Şahin and Sven Bender have returned to the club as coaches. - IMAGO/Moritz Mueller

bundesliga.com: How good is it for you to be able to train more now?

Sabitzer: "If you don’t have a game every three days, you have far more time to practise different processes and formations that you want to implement in the games. I think we only had maybe one or two normal weeks, but then it was still about recovery, because we actually had the time to take a rest. You always come out of games with one or two knocks, so it’s a huge difference if you have another game in two days’ time, especially when this is the case for years on end. We are now using the time to learn some patterns and to repeat them so that they become more engrained. This is why it's helpful to have a period like this."