Leverkusen - Bayer 04 Leverkusen got their second half of the season off to an ideal start with Saturday's 3-1 victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, increasing their advantage over their fourth-placed visitors to a healthy six points.
After the game, Andre Schürrle, who netted his fifth goal of the campaign either side of strikes from new signing Sebastian Boenisch and Stefan Kießling, spoke to bundesliga.com about Saturday's performance, impressing Germany coach Joachim Löw and about his club's UEFA Champions League ambitions.
bundesliga.com: Herr Schürrle, congratulations on the 3-1 win against Frankfurt. What did you make of the game?
Schürrle: The first 20 minutes were a bit clumsy and I think the [temporary stoppage in the first half] came at a good time for us because we played very well afterwards and scored two very well-worked goals. We started to play the way we did before the Christmas break in the second half. In the end, we deserved the 3-1 victory and we're very satisfied.
bundesliga.com: Were the two quick-fire goals after half an hour decisive in the end?
Schürrle: Whenever you score two goals in two minutes, it's always difficult for the opposition. You could see it took it out of the Frankfurt players and we took advantage. We didn't have as much possession, but we kept on creating good chances on the counter and could easily have scored one or two more.
bundesliga.com: You scored a remarkable goal when it looked like the chance may have gone...
Schürrle: I just took a risk. I could see out of the corner of my eye that [Eintracht keeper] Kevin Trapp was still on the other side of the goal. I just gave it a go and it went in.
bundesliga.com: What can you take from this game? Do you consider it a successful start to 2013?
Schürrle: You could say we've started well, yes. It's difficult to play against Frankfurt because they run a lot and show plenty of aggression, but we did well. We kept creating chances in attack and long may it continue.
bundesliga.com: Germany coach Joachim Löw was in the stadium running the rule over a number of players. What would you say to him about Stefan Kießling?
Schürrle: That's not for me to say. It's not my job to single players out. The national team coach was there and he'll make his decisions.
bundesliga.com: After playing one direct competitor in Frankfurt, are you relishing the prospect of games against fellow top-six sides SC Freiburg and Borussia Dortmund in the coming weeks?
Schürrle: Today's win was very important. We've got a tough task ahead in Freiburg - they're playing particularly well this season, but we know what we're capable of too. We can win against anyone as long as we give 100 per cent on the pitch. We showed as much against Frankfurt and we've shown the same against Bayern and Schalke too. We don't fear any opponents. These three points against Frankfurt will help our confidence but now it's time to focus on getting another three against Freiburg.
bundesliga.com: Bayer have amassed 36 points from their 18 games so far. Continue in the same vein and that will be enough to get you into the Champions League...
Schürrle: Anything more would be a big ask. We shouldn't be looking that far ahead, though. Freiburg are up next and that's the most important game in our eyes. We need to do well there. All I can say is that if we perform as we can do, we can achieve great things this season.
bundesliga.com: How important will these next few games be in terms of setting the tone for the remainder of the campaign?
Schürrle: It's important for us to keep the competition at arm's length. We want to achieve our goals and that's going to be difficult enough. It's going to be a lot of work, but I'm sure that if we keep playing as we have been - with the same motivation, commitment and team spirit - we'll do well in our next few games.
Interview by Tobias Gonscherowski