After closing the gap on Bayern Munich to keep the title race alive until the final day, Mario Götze and Borussia Dortmund haven't given up hope of clinching Bundesliga glory come the end of a thrilling campaign.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup winner scored a stunning third in Dortmund's topsy-turvey 3-2 win over Fortuna Düsseldorf, which boasted more than it's fair share of nail-biting moments. When it comes to securing the Meisterschale, BVB's fate is not in their own hands, but they remain undeterred in seeking out a sixth league win of the Bundesliga era.
Götze: "In the first half, we played well and managed to take the lead. Düsseldorf were disciplined in keeping things tight in and around their penalty area, which makes it difficult to carve out goalscoring chances. Most importantly though, we maintained the lead heading in at half-time. We made it really exciting towards the end, but we have taken all three points, we’ve won on home soil. Those are the things that count."
Question: Düsseldorf did everything the could to get an equaliser and even sent their goalkeeper forward for a corner in injury time. Were you surprised?
Götze: "Düsseldorf played with a great sense of freedom. They tried to play their way out of tricky situations, but moved the ball about at the back well and created some good chances. On the whole they played very well - above all away from home and, by the end, with just 10 men."
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Question: Were there any concerns of letting the win slip through your grasp in a repeat of what happened in Bremen last weekend?
Götze: "We were 3-1 up with a man advantage and got a little bit too sure of ourselves. When they pulled it back to 3-2, the closing stages were tense, but what counts is that we won. We’ve got one game left. What has happened in the past doesn’t count anymore. We’ve got one game left, to put it all on the line and then we’ll see what comes of it for us."
Question: Were the team kept aware of the scoreline in Leipzig throughout the game?
Götze: "No, we didn’t know what was going on. It wasn’t actually that important for us. We were playing at home and had to pick up all three points. We’ve got to focus on ourselves, that’s all that matter. And as I’ve said: One game to go in Gladbach is all that counts now!"
Question: Even with a win, BVB will be reliant on help from elsewhere. How much faith do you have in Eintracht Frankfurt when they take on Bayern?
Götze: "It’s always difficult to play in Munich, but it’s the last game at the end of a long season and anything is possible. Eyeing Champions League qualification, everything is on the line for Frankfurt. Nevertheless, we’ve got just as tough a game ahead of us in Gladbach, who are also competing for a top-four finish. We’d do well to just concentrate on what we can control. We’ve got to win on Saturday."
Question: Have the incredible results in European football this week helped Dortmund hold onto hope of clinching the title?
Götze: "Those games showed us exactly what is possible in football. It can all happen in the blink of an eye, even if a Champions League semi-final is a completely different type of situation. But it proved how much is possible and that’s why BVB still have something to play for this season."
Question: For the first time in nine years, the title race will be decided on the final day. What will the focus be in the next couple of days?
Götze: "It goes without saying that it’s a special situation. For us, it’s important to detach the game against Gladbach from everything. For us, it’s a crucial away game that we want to, and have to, win. It’s like a final and that’s how we have to approach the game. Of course, some of the points that we didn’t pick up, are more frustrating now. But that’s how it is, it’s part of it, but none of it counts anymore. Now we’ve got one game left, there are three points on offer and we want them all."
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Question: Is it really that easy to tune everything out before a game like this?
Götze: "No, of course it isn’t. It’s the last game of a tough campaign that will rob us of any remaining energy stockpiles though. That’s why it’s even more important to be operating at the highest level mentally. It will be a huge challenge, especially as it’s in Gladbach, where it’s always tricky. It’s going to be a very special occasion on Saturday."
Question: One last word on Christian Pulisic, who scored again against Düsseldorf and is leaving to join Chelsea in the summer.
Götze: "Christian had a couple of very good and successful years in Dortmund. To come here as a incredibly young player, to make the step abroad as an American - that’s not easy. To then perform like he has is all the more impressive. He’s been incredible. That’s why this final home game was emotional for him. Overall it’s a brilliant story for Christian - he scored against Düsseldorf in his final home game and next week has a chance to win the title. It wouldn’t be a bad way to bid farewell."
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Dortmund