RB Leipzig and Germany left-back Marcel Halstenberg is proud of his team's achievements in sitting top of the Bundesliga table through the winter break, but he knows it means nothing without a second half of the season to match the first.
bundesliga.com: How would you sum up the first half of the season?
Marcel Halstenberg: "Successful, so far. We became winter champions, but you can't buy anything with that. We've shown what we're capable of and that we can handle being at the top, now we want to make sure we have a good start again with the first match. Preparation first, then start well and see what lies in store."
bundesliga.com: What do you think of your performance in the first half of the season?
Halstenberg: "I was injured too often, I only played 16 games out of a possible 25, so my yield wasn't ideal, but there's certainly room to improve in that aspect."
bundesliga.com: What would you like to improve on in the second half of the season?
Halstenberg: "When we play four at the back, I'm a full-back and would like to ensure that we concede fewer goals, but also to always be switched on in attack and be dangerous in front of goal."
bundesliga.com: Who do you spend time with away from the pitch? And what do you like to do away from football?
Halstenberg: "When I come home to my family, the main thing is to spend some time with my wife and child. Otherwise, we might do something with Yussuf Poulsen and his wife and kid, or with former player Terrence Boyd, his wife and child. At the weekend you find enough time to get out, to the park, and have a nice time."
bundesliga.com: So you consider family and friends a good distraction from football?
Halstenberg: "Yeah, of course, in this job when you're often on the road, it's nice to have some downtime and do something with the family."
bundesliga.com: What are your personal goals for the coming years?
Halstenberg: "To stay injury-free, then the main goal is to be successful here with the club and win titles, because I've yet to win one in my career. But we have to see how we begin the second half of the season, then I think that the Euros in the summer are realistic as a personal goal."
bundesliga.com: Is the Euro your biggest dream?
Halstenberg: "I haven't really thought much about whether the Euros are a big dream for me. Of course, the tournament is interesting for every player and everyone is proud to represent their country, so to be there and to win a title is certainly way up there."
bundesliga.com: What does being top over the winter break mean to you and RB Leipzig?
Halstenberg: "You can't buy anything with it. It means we can compete up at the top and we're there on merit as we performed well, but you can't buy anything with it."
bundesliga.com: What were your highlights of the season so far?
Halstenberg: "Against the big teams, Dortmund, Bayern, we picked up a point. In the first half [of those games], we didn't play as well as expected but really improved in the second. They were two good games. Also progressing in the UEFA Champions League is a good highlight for us as a club."
bundesliga.com: Before the season started did you think that it would go so well in the Champions League?
Halstenberg: "We believed in our strengths. Our goal was to survive the group phase, also to progress in the cup, which we've achieved so far. We'll keep pushing and see how far we can go."
Watch: How Nagelsmann has taken Leipzig to the next level!
bundesliga.com: What do you value most about Julian Nagelsmann?
Halstenberg: "He's very young, he's hungry. You notice in every speech and game how emotional he is. He coaches every player and off the pitch, he's very relaxed and cool, gives and takes jokes. But when it comes to giving everything for 90 minutes, he's very straight in his line and I value that."
bundesliga.com: What is your view of the second half of the season and your chances of winning the title?
Halstenberg: "In the second half of the season I think the other teams will approach us differently and sit deeper than before. It'll be a different scenario, but it's certainly a recognition of what we've done and from the outside looking in, you can see the impact we've had."
bundesliga.com: What are Germany's prospects in such a difficult group at the Euros?
Halstenberg: "There are two teams, for now, who you know won't give you an easy game. It's a top group, but I haven't given it too much thought, first I have to have a good remainder of the season, stay injury-free and then hopefully I'll be there and can think about it. They're undoubtedly two very good teams, France and Portugal. They're the world and European champions respectively, so it'll be a tough nut to crack."
bundesliga.com: Is winning the Euros possible? What do you need to do to achieve it?
Halstenberg: "I believe so. If you can come through a group like that with those two opponents, then there aren't so many teams left who are at that level and winning is certainly possible."
bundesliga.com: Which role does Timo Werner play in the national team and at RB Leipzig – and how is your communication?
Halstenberg: "You see how important he is to our team and for the national team. He scores lots of goals and influences a lot of the play in attack. Personally, he stays grounded, is a relaxed guy who has a laugh and I get along with him very well."