Munich - With only a matter of days to go until the 2012/13 Bundesliga campaign kicks-off, all 18 teams are honing their preparations ahead of their opening fixtures. Record titleholders FC Bayern Munich are once again among the favourites to take the crown, but the Bavarians are not looking too far ahead just yet, as Holger Badstuber told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview.
The 23-year-old's career has rocketed since he broke into the first team three seasons ago. He has gone on to become a mainstay in Bayern's back line and has established himself as one half of Germany's preferred centre-back partnerships
bundesliga.com: Congratulations on the victory in the Supercup. What was it like to finally beat Borussia Dortmund again?
Badstuber: After two years without winning it was a matter of prestige. If we had lost, there would have been a huge storm again. Obviously it gave us a lot of confidence, but we don't want to place too much importance on it since both teams have still got plenty of room for improvement. It's a nice feeling, but in the league the more important battles are still to come.
bundesliga.com: Bayern signed several players in the summer, including Dante, who plays in your position and started in the Supercup. How do you deal with an increased competition for places?
Badstuber: Competition for places is important at every big club, but I'm looking forward to the new season positively. I took a big step forward in terms of my own progression last year, for both club and country. Of all the players here, I think I played the most minutes. But now I have new aims and a new desire to keep developing, as a player and as a person. If I can combine all of those things, then I'll play.
bundesliga.com: What new aims have you set yourself?
Badstuber: You can always learn something new. I'm only 23, and I know I'm not perfect. I can work on the way I present myself on the pitch.
bundesliga.com: One aim must surely be to go a long way in the UEFA Champions League again. How did you deal with being suspended for the final in May?
Badstuber: Of course that was a bitter blow for me. Every footballer wants to play in finals - I've already played in one, which, unfortunately, I lost. It's an even greater motivation for me to win a title having made it to two [Champions League] finals and not won. But I'll make it a third time and then we'll do it. You're already in a minority just by getting there, but winning the Champions League is not something many people can claim to have done. That's my main objective.
bundesliga.com: Which competition is your priority: Bundesliga, Champions League or DFB Cup?
Badstuber: The Bundesliga is my top priority. We can't afford to slip up there again. Last year we had a very good spell, but it was too short. We dropped points in important games and we can't do that again. We need to accept the criticism. We will just take each game as it comes and set ourselves small targets. It's good for us and it helps to sharpen our focus.
Interview by Jonathan Stockitt