Maximilian Arnold and his growing family are loving life at Wolfsburg, with UEFA Champions League football on the horizon. - © DFL
Maximilian Arnold and his growing family are loving life at Wolfsburg, with UEFA Champions League football on the horizon. - © DFL
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Maximilian Arnold on chasing the Champions League with Wolfsburg in his best season yet

Despite still being only 26, Maximilian Arnold has secured legend status at Wolfsburg with over 300 appearances for the only club of his career so far. And with qualification for the UEFA Champions League on the horizon, why would the German midfielder want to be anywhere else?

The one-time Germany international, who has hopes of being part of Germany's squad at this summer's European Championships, sits down with bundesliga.com to discuss his and Wolfsburg's season so far, what booking a place in the Champions League would mean, and why he believes the Wolves would deserve it.

Maximilian Arnold on Wolfsburg's season so far...

Maximilian Arnold: "It's very fun, of course, to be up there in the table and to already have won quite a few games, games we deserved to win too. It's nice, so the atmosphere and mood in the camp is good. But I have to say, especially after the Cologne game, not everything was perfect, you have to be honest. So we know that we need to show a different kind of performance over the next few weeks."

On the race to qualify for the Champions League...

Arnold: "11 points [cushion to BVB in fifth] sound like a lot, it is really. But as you said, we're going to be tested in the weeks to come, and I think if we get through that then the dream will probably become a reality. But like I said, in the next few weeks we've got some tough tasks ahead, and we have to put the work in to make sure we're ready. If we manage that, then I have to say that we can achieve it."

On what it would mean to reach the Champions League...

Arnold: "Obviously it's something to get really excited about, especially when it's something you've experienced before. I have to say, I really want to make it, because it's really special. Wow, it's hard to describe. I'm really hot for it, but it's a team sport and you need your teammates too! But I don't get the feeling that anyone is saying 'Hey, it's time to relax now' or anything like that, I think everyone knows that we still have to give everything we've got."

On the Champions League continued...

Arnold: "It's really nice to be playing midweek football. I think the Europa League is a really cool competition too, but obviously, if you could choose between the two then you'd choose the Champions League."

Despite having 17-goal Wout Weghorst leading the attack, the Wolfsburg team has had high performers across the pitch in 2020/21. - Lukas Schulze/Bundesliga/Bundesliga Collection via Getty Images

On Wolfsburg's rise in the last few years...

Arnold: "After every season, it was... After surviving the play-off for the second time, we had Bruno Labbadia, and we went through another phase where we didn't play so well before the winter break, and then we got ourselves together and won 16 points from our last six games. So that was a key moment. And then will Oliver Glasner came in, the new system, and at the start it wasn't too well for us, or rather it wasn't working at all. Then we had another couple of results that really weren't good. After that, we changed the system slightly and all of a sudden we were playing much better football. And then this season, after we got knocked out of the Europa League play-offs in Athens, we were really, really disappointed. But perhaps it's done us good."

On the 2015/16 Champions League...

Arnold: "It's really special. I only came off the bench in the first game, but after that, I played every game, I started every game, regardless of whether it was against Manchester United at Old Trafford or obviously the first knockout games against Gent where we got through. And then, of course, Real Madrid is always in your mind, that was crazy too. It's something you don't forget. Just the way it all was, it's a feeling you really want back, of course."

On losing to Real Madrid...

Arnold: "It was something. Hard to describe what it means. It's the Champions League, it's what everyone in the world knows. And obviously against Real Madrid - that night I don't think I got to sleep until 5am. I didn't know what to do with my emotions. And then we got knocked out in Madrid. That was pretty disappointing. I think as a club we collapsed a little bit then, yeah."

Maximilian Arnold scored against Real Madrid in their last 16 tie in 2015/16, but Wolfsburg suffered a 3-2 aggregate defeat in the end - imago images

On Wolfsburg's success this season...

Arnold: "Yeah, it's nice. 27 games, 54 points, third in the table. If you had offered me that before the season, I would have said 'I'll take it, where do I sign?' Like I said, I don't think it's undeserved, either. We've had many games where we were clearly the better team and deservedly won. So it's almost like a confirmation, when opponents and other players say 'Hey, you play really good football, it's hard to play against you.'"

On the reasons behind Wolfsburg's success...

Arnold: "In the first five games, we drew them all. It was nice that we didn't lose, but we weren't really making any headway. And then we just had more and more time to train, the manager was setting us up even better, we were ironing out the finer details, we were very meticulous. And he kept repeating everything: we were sat in a briefing and found ourselves saying 'Hey, I heard this a couple of weeks ago' but that's what we footballers are like: we think we know everything and can do everything after a week, but I think sometimes we have to take a look at ourselves. But that's the point. In this time, we started to win games, then we got into our flow, and yeah, as I said, it's not undeserved, it's just confirmation of the way we're playing football at the moment."

On how he would explain Wolfsburg's tactics...

Arnold: "How would I explain it to someone... Do they know anything about football at all?! No, I think we play very intense football, going forward as well as in defence. We're very compact, we really don't allow many chances. And then going forward we have freedom, we use our creativity, and we score a few goals. That's how I would describe, without going into crazy tactical detail."

Watch: Analysis of Wolfsburg's wing wizadry

On Wolfsburg's defence...

Arnold: "It's a clear sign that we're solid at the back when we've kept 13 clean sheets. And I think we've conceded the second-fewest goals too, which is a clear sign."

On head coach Oliver Glasner...

Arnold: "Firstly, he's a very good coach, he knows what he's doing, he has a very clear plan of the way he wants us to play football. I think you can see that. As a person, I think he's great. It's not just about football; he's very focused on football, but he's also great to talk to about other things. For example, he always asks me how my family is, and I think that's something you can say is pretty special, but Bruno Labbadia was like that too, for example. He always asked you about yourself, always noticed things, and I think that's really what makes a good coach."

On his season personally...

Arnold: "I think it's going pretty well, but I would say last season wasn't too bad either. And back when we were in the Champions League I didn't play too badly either. I think I would say that it's been a very consistent season from me, always playing at a very good level. That's how I would describe it."

On the next game vs. Eintracht Frankfurt...

Arnold: "A very important game. Not just for third place, but about staying where we want to be in the table. Obviously, nothing will be decided after the game, after the matchday, but it's an important game like any other. We want to get all three points, we know the quality that Frankfurt have, but we're above them in the table! No, but I think it'll be a really good game to watch, too. That's just my opinion, but I have the feeling there'll be action at both ends, because Frankfurt have quality, and I think we'll create a few chances."

Watch: A deep dive into Frankfurt's tussle with Wolfsburg

On parallels with Frankfurt's season...

Arnold: "They also had quite a tough start, they lost 2-1 to us in the reverse fixture and everyone was saying 'Hey, what path are Frankfurt on' and since then they've gone from strength to strength. Yeah, Frankfurt will be a tough opponent. Like I said, they have a lot of quality going forward, with [Filip] Kostic, and [Andre] Silva, who can play really quick, attacking football up top. So we have to have a good day, but I don't think we're going there to hide and say 'Hey, I hope they don't play well' - that's not how it's going to be."

On the chances of catching RB Leipzig in second place...

Arnold: "Ha! Second place... I think if you finish third, or fourth, or second, it doesn't make loads of difference. We just want to get as many points as we need to be in one of those three places. We have to give all we've got and put the work in. We'll see what happens at the end of the season."

On Wolfsburg's record of just four wins from 54 games in all competitions vs. Bayern Munich...

Arnold: "I'd rather you hadn't mentioned the record! That's quite sobering. People are all talking about whether [Robert] Lewandowski will be fit or not, and people say suddenly Bayern are beatable, but then you saw against Leipzig just how they're all so on it. People always talk about Bayern with Lewandowski, but without Lewandowski, they're still Bayern Munich and they're a really strong opponent, a really good team. Obviously, you can say if not now, then when? But it's not that easy. However, our chances are definitely higher than they were two or three years ago when we were playing in the relegation play-offs."

Watch: Wolfsburg's record unbeaten came to an end in Munich earlier this season

On Wolfsburg 5-1 Bayern in 2009...

Arnold: "That was around the time I was deciding whether to join Wolfsburg. I watched it on the TV, on Sportschau... In any case, I was always excited to watch Sportschau on Saturday evenings and I saw the game, and then my decision was made, I was going to VfL Wolfsburg. So yeah, I could really appreciate the game, but I wasn't at Wolfsburg yet."

On Grafite's goal in that game...

Arnold: "Yeah, the way he finished it... The thing is, he looks very technical, very talented, but I've heard - I've never been lucky enough to play with him - that he wasn't actually that technical! And then he does something like that, which is crazy, but I think it just came out of a game where everything worked for Wolfsburg."

On Wolfsburg's 2009 title win...

Arnold: "When you look at the season, I think at the halfway point they were in ninth? In any case, they were a long way off. But then they got going and went on that run, and achieved something amazing. And yeah, the decision to join Wolfsburg was a bit easier for me, to join the German champions!"

On Lewandowski's five goals in nine minutes...

Arnold: "Yeah, that's one I would quite like to have not been involved in. You have to be honest, I'm not sure anything like it will ever happen again. It's crazy the way it happened. I think it was 3-1, and Dieter Hecking said to me as I was coming on 'Hey, it's 3-1, perhaps we can get on the counter and make it 3-2 and then who knows', and then he made it 4-1 and Hecking said 'Just go on and do whatever!' Because the game was decided by then. I have to be honest, I'd just come on and then he scored the fifth and I thought 'Well, that's it'."

Maximilian Arnold will be looking to rewrite some wrongs when Wolfsburg and Bayern Munich meet on Matchday 29. - DFL

On Lewandowski's amazing record vs. Wolfsburg...

Arnold: "It's always a good thing when Lewandowski isn't playing!"

On Lewandowski...

Arnold: "I think he's one of the best strikers in the world at the moment. Obviously, there's [Karim] Benzema, who also scores quite a lot of goals, but when you compare the leagues, the top scorers of the top five leagues, if you can call them that, what's he on? 35 goals? It's ridiculous. And you can't begrudge him that, you have to respect it and tip your hat to him. Especially after last season where they won everything, and he just keeps going. It's an amazing quality, you always say you have to be on point, to match the quality of Bayern Munich and Robert Lewandowksi."

On Wout Weghorst...

Arnold: "Wout is someone who always wants to win, and he sometimes makes that very known, which isn't always the most comfortable thing for everyone around! But he's someone who always wants to win, and I think if he was playing a team like that then he'd probably score a few more goals too. So I think Wout is a great striker who always works hard, which I like. I'm someone who believes that hard work pays off and Wout definitely belongs in that category of people."

On his relationship with Weghorst...

Arnold: "Wout is a bit more emotional than me! But in terms of working together, there's not a lot to say. I don't have that killer instinct in front of goal like Wout!"

On his career so far personally...

Arnold: "So hopefully I have a good seven or eight years ahead of me. We'll have to see, I'll have to really take care of my body. I'm just happy. That dream of being a professional footballer that I had back then, watching Sportschau... to be able to live that and then here in Wolfsburg, a club that especially now has a great chance to get into the Champions League, it's really special. I'm happy that I've been able to be a part of the history here for quite a long time."

On extending his contract...

Arnold: "I would phrase it another way: I'm really thankful that I got this opportunity. I have amazing opportunities here to develop myself, and the club is developing at the same time so to work with the club and help the club is really special. So Wolfsburg isn't a club that I would give up for anyone else; I like it here, I feel very happy here, my family is very happy here. I think Wolfsburg knows me and I know Wolfsburg. So the decision was clear, I would extend my contract. I have to be honest, I'm not someone who thinks I'm always doing everything wrong. I go through life in a relaxed way, with a smile, and I'm happy when I can get up in the morning and come to training. I have to be honest."