Bremen - Francisco Javier Rodriguez Pinedo; or 'Maza' as he's affectionately known - a reference to his roots in Mazatleco - has cemented his starting place in VfB Stuttgart's back four. His Matchday 4 performance against Werder Bremen may not go down prominenty in his scrapbook - not that he was overly busy - but come the final whistle, he was able to enjoy the 2-2 result.

With only two points on the table, the Swabians are, however, stuck in the bottom three. "In our next match we must show a reaction and just as much character as we did in the second half against Bremen", Maza told in an exclusive interview.

As well as the game at Werder, the Mexican analysed his own performances and cast an eye over the upcoming derby against 1899 Hoffenheim. Mr Maza, was it a point gained or two points lost?

Maza: We gained a point. We weren't playing against any old team; it was Werder Bremen. Thanks to our performance, above all in the second half, we definitely earned the draw. Maybe we could have even won it. So far this season, we haven't quite had the rub of the green that you need in football. After four games, VfB Stuttgart only have two points in the bag. You must have imagined things to be different.

Maza: Sure, the situation in the standings isn't too rosy for us, but in our next match we must show a reaction and just as much character as we did in the second half against Bremen. Why can't Stuttgart match the performances of the second half of last season?

Maza: At the moment, we're conceding too many easy goals. We need to turn that around. Every day in training we give 100%, putting the instructions of our coach Bruno Labbadia into practice, and that will pay off. At the moment, you're playing at centre back at the expense of Georg Niedermeier. Do you think it will continue that way?

Maza: Of course, I'm very happy that the coach has placed his faith in me. In every game I try to reward this trust he has shown in me, but we've got three really strong centre backs in the squad. So it's not an easy decision for the coach. Next on the agenda is Wednesday's clash with neighbours Hoffenheim. What do you expect from the game?

Maza: If we hold our heads up high and believe in ourselves, it will turn out well against Hoffenheim.

Interview by Michael Reis