RB Leipzig playmaker Marcel Sabitzer feels that titles define a player's career, and the Austrian international knows he's in the right place to win them now and in the future.
Leipzig come up against Bayern Munich twice in May. The first, on Matchday 33 in the Bundesliga, could see Bayern clinch their seventh successive title or see Leipzig take the title race with Dortmund to the final day. The second, on 25 May, could see Sabitzer and his team clinch their first major title in the DFB Cup final.
Having come up from Bundesliga 2 with Leipzig, the 25-year-old is well aware of the plans in place at the Red Bull Arena. Sabitzer sits down with bundesliga.com to discuss the upcoming game against Bayern, the Leipzig project and the DFB Cup final...
bundesliga.com: What is, currently, your biggest challenge: your new-born child or football?
Marcel Sabitzer: "First of all, thank you (for the wishes about his new-born child). It was, obviously, a special experience; a special moment. I'm very glad that everything went the way it did, however, the nights have, obviously, been rather restless. I'm looking forward to playing football but, when I get home, there is still quite a bit left to do!”
bundesliga.com: What are your personal goals for this season and for the near future?
Sabitzer: “We still want to get six more points in the league. We want to play as well as possible in the cup final and, hopefully, lift the thing in the air. This is our goal. We're going to prepare thoroughly but we know that it'll be difficult. In the league, we're still going up against Bayern and Bremen; difficult games. Furthermore, Bayern has experienced so many cup finals; for us, it's still new territory. We'll be prepared and hopefully lift the cup in the air.”
bundesliga.com: In what ways are you looking to improve yourself?
Sabitzer: “There are always ways in which we want to improve and are able to. This is why we train on a daily basis. Playing without possession is a quality I have; I've trained in that department long enough and I can do it well! With the ball at my feet is something else; an aspect which definitely has some potential for improvement. I'm on it! I want to continue to improve until I finish my career. I want to be able to one day say: “I’ve tried everything; gave it my all and it has been a great career!”. That's my goal.”
bundesliga.com: What is standing in your way in terms of achieving a successful career?
Sabitzer: “Titles! Obviously. In Austria, I've had the pleasure of winning something, however, I'd like to be able to lift something in the air in Germany as well. We've got a good opportunity to achieve that with the cup final coming up. Therefore, I do think that titles are what make a career stand out.”
Watch: Sabitzer has become a free-kick specialist, as he showed vs. VfB Stuttgart!
bundesliga.com: Do you play a specific role in the squad?
Sabitzer: “I'm not necessarily the loudest voice in the team. I do my thing on the pitch and keep pushing the team onwards, including my teammates. Some require a certain amount of encouragement; it isn’t something unheard of. I accept this role in the team; I do it with pleasure. With good performances, you acquire a right to have a voice; spur the players on which is something I do whenever called upon.”
bundesliga.com: The next Matchday will see you pitted against Bayern. How are you prepared to clinch a win in this match?
Sabitzer: “We need to be solid defensively. We have to use the quality which has made us stand out throughout the past several weeks: restrict shots on goal, make the opponent’s job as hard as possible and offensively, finding the right moments to counter. We have good offensive players who can capitalise and score out of nothing. As a team, we'll face Bayern as compact as possible, with careful planning instead of running in blind. We'll arrive with a strategy and, at home, with the fans, I think we can really frustrate Bayern. It's a crucial match for them. Dortmund will also be anxiously watching due to it being the last opportunity for them to close the gap. We want to be fair and give it our best shot to win.”
bundesliga.com: What are the specific priorities looking at an upcoming match like this?
Sabitzer: “If they become champions at home or at ours is something which doesn’t really matter. What's important is fairness in football. We want to give 100 per cent and maybe get the three points which would leave the title-run wide open. That's all that matters. We'll prepare well and, if we're able to use our qualities, we're more than capable of achieving this. Of course, we know that Bayern has a lot of quality and have great players in their ranks. However, we've been able to silence even the best players with our compact defence. That should be our aim.”
bundesliga.com: What rituals do you have before an important match such as this?
Sabitzer: “We always have the same rituals. We usually meet up at the stadium at around 10 am, we have breakfast together and then we each have some time alone with ourselves. We then have lunch together, a team-talk followed by our journey to the stadium. That's usually the procedure we go through for such a day. I, personally, don't have any specific rituals which I do, but instead, I simply try to stay relaxed on a Matchday and focus on the task at hand.”
bundesliga.com: You scored your first goal for RB against Bayern. How much do you still remember about that game?
Sabitzer: “A lot! At that point, our place in the UEFA Champions League was secured. That's why that match was played very openly by both sides. It was simply back and forth football. We were ahead at 3-1, then at 4-2 and then we ultimately lost 5-4! That match had everything. For the fans, it was inevitably exciting, however, for us it was hard to take. If we're able to play the same way but instead end up with the positive result ourselves, it would be great for us.”
bundesliga.com: You do not have a specific goal celebration. How are you always able to come up with different celebrations each time?
Sabitzer: “Sometimes you simply cannot control it. You're usually at the mercy of the emotions going through your mind. Because of this, some funny things often happen, especially after looking at the videos in the aftermath. We've had some laughs at the video studio; funny moments of the entire team. That’s why I don’t think a celebration needs to be a concrete thing. Something usually just happens because of all the emotions!”
Watch: Re-live the incredible Leipzig 4-5 Bayern spectacle!
bundesliga.com: How much does the cup final in Berlin mean to you?
Sabitzer: “A lot. Up till now, we've always performed well in Berlin, even if it wasn’t a final but in the league against Hertha. We have good memories there. Fans have always supported us. That's why we're quite confident about what will await us there, however, a cup final is something significant. In Germany, a cup final is the biggest match there is! We're honoured to be able to take part. We've worked hard to get here. We've had a difficult run of games to get where we are. When I think of Hoffenheim, Wolfsburg and Augsburg; they were hard matches. It's not as if we were able to walk our way to the final. We worked for it, which is why we're so excited for the match. We could, obviously, top it off by lifting the trophy itself.”
bundesliga.com: What is RB Leipzig capable of achieving in the future?
Sabitzer: “I think the target for us should always be to be involved internationally. Of course, there are moments where a team might have an off-season, however, I'm convinced that the team and the club itself has the right mentality to remain at the top. We weren’t too far off top spot ourselves, therefore, if we're able to keep the team together and possibly add one or two additions, we could be able to attack at the top, assuming everything goes to plan. Obviously, a lot has to run smoothly. Bayern and Dortmund would need to not have their best season. The club is alive, however, the city as well. Therefore, a lot can happen here.”