Leverkusen - Following last Sunday's energy-sapping 3-2 defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund, Bayer 04 Leverkusen face another stern test with a trip to Rhineland rivals Borussia Mönchengladbach this weekend.
The early-2013 fixture list has not been kind to the Werkself - the Foals are Leverkusen's fourth top-seven opponent in as many games since the turn of the year. Nevertheless, vice-captain believes Sami Hyypiä's troops have plenty of reason to for optimism, as he told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview.
bundesliga.com: Gonzalo Castro, how would you sum up Leverkusen's defeat to Borussia Dortmund last week?
Gonzalo Castro: It was a shame we lost. We put them under a lot of pressure in the second half - no team has had as many chances against Dortmund this season as we did. But that's just football. Unfortunately it was our mistake that led to them making it 3-2 and we couldn't come back from that. We can still be very proud of ourselves because we played very well as a team. We were very committed and compact.
bundesliga.com: Were you on a level with the defending champions?
Castro: We were. It was clear to see that both teams wanted to win. Nevertheless, Dortmund have won the last two championships and are smarter than us in certain situations. We can still take plenty of positives from the game, though.
bundesliga.com: So far in 2013, Leverkusen have recorded one win, one defeat and a draw. How satisfied are you with that four-point haul?
Castro: We've played against three teams who were direct rivals and picked up four points. It's a shame it wasn't a couple more. If we want to stay up where we are then we have to win in Mönchengladbach.
bundesliga.com: The defeat to Dortmund meant Leverkusen relinquished second place in the table. This weekend, third place could also be in danger...
Castro: We're not thinking about that. We want to build on our strengths. Against Dortmund you could see that we're strong enough to play any opponent off the park. In Gladbach it'll be very different though, as they're well organised at the back and have a different style. We need to play our own game and try to win there.
bundesliga.com: Is the depth of quality in the squad better than last season?
Castro: One of our characteristics is that the substitutes are always ready to go. Whenever they come on, they're always up to speed. You could see that with Sidney Sam last week, he caused Dortmund lots of problems after he came on.
bundesliga.com: Given Leverkusen's good performances, would you say that the right results are the only thing lacking at the moment?
Castro: Yes, definitely. After Dortmund the crowd wasn't booing us, they actually gave us a standing ovation. That was great for us. We gave our all and that's why we can't let our heads hang just because of the result.
bundesliga.com: What needs to change against Gladbach?
Castro: We can't afford to concede the kind of goals we did against Dortmund. Gladbach aren't playing like they did last year, but they're still very dangerous. They have guys like [Juan] in the side for starters.
bundesliga.com: You personally have never lost a Bundesliga match in Mönchengladbach. Leverkusen are unbeaten there for over 20 years - can the run continue?
Castro: We can't rely on that. After all, records are there to be broken. We want to win there and continue competing at the top.
Interview conducted by Tobias Gonscherowski