Dortmund – A win at the home of the champions is sweet enough, but a thumping 4-1 success against the mighty Borussia Dortmund is the stuff of players' dreams. Hamburger SV managed just that on Saturday as they overcame an early setback in front of a packed-out Signal Iduna Park.
Rafael van der Vaart was one of the architectsof the Yellow Blacks’ heaviest home defeat since they suffered a 5-1 reverse against Bayern Munich in September 2009. The Dutch playmaker was understandably overjoyed at helping his side complete a season double over Dortmund - and maintaining a fine personal record in the process.
Question: Rafael van der Vaart, the team must be on cloud nine after that win, especially as it was so close to your birthday [on Monday].
Rafael van der Vaart: Yes it was an early birthday present, and a really great one! To beat the champions in their own stadium, and to win the game 4-1 as well, is really something special. Nobody would have expected that.
Question: But you had a pretty good idea of it before the game...
van der Vaart: I said before the match that we’d win 4-0, but that was just a joke really, even though I felt quietly confident. Just before kick-off I said to the guys again that anything was possible. Any team can beat any other team, even one as good as Dortmund.
Question: You must be pleased not only with the victory but with the performance as well.
van der Vaart: I think that we were simply the better team, right from the off. We conceded an unlucky goal from a defensive slip-up, but after that we kept our composure and stuck to our game plan really well. Matches like today show the kind of quality we have in the team. It was an almost perfect game from our point of view.
Question: Aside from the goal, HSV were really switched on and right in the game.
van der Vaart: If you play in Dortmund, in a stadium like theirs with such a huge crowd watching, you know yourself what you have to do. That it was such a handsome win for us makes it all the sweeter, though. Dortmund have a quality team, but they weren’t in the best of form, and we used that to our advantage.
Question: You beat BVB in the first half of the season too. You must be wishing you could play them every week.
van der Vaart: Yes, you could say that! And I have to say I like playing against Dortmund on a personal level; I haven’t lost too often against them. In the first game I was able to set up two goals, and I provided another assist this time. I’m pretty happy with that.
Question: Despite a good performance, you were substituted after an hour.
van der Vaart: I was on a yellow card, but I also took a knock to my thigh and it was a bit bruised, so it was due to a combination of things that I was taken off. It was a precautionary measure but it worked well and we were winning 3-1 at the time.
Question: It was a very aggressive, high-pressure performance from Hamburg. Why do you think you were so motivated for this game?
van der Vaart: We played against Dortmund the way HSV have to play. Our problem at the moment is that we play like that one week and we’re a different team the next. We’re lacking consistency and it’s been like that for us all season, a lot of ups and down.
Question: What can you do to improve that?
van der Vaart: We can enjoy this victory, but we also have to work hard to make sure we can play every game like this. We need to build on this performance and reproduce it in the next few games. We all know that and we all want that to happen, but it's sometimes easier said than done.
Question: You must be casting your eyes upwards now, after this win.
van der Vaart: We’re always looking up the table. It's been the case in the past that we've gotten ahead of ourselves and ended up heading in the other direction instead. But we’re all committed to making sure that Hamburg have a big say in what happens over the rest of the season.
Interview by Dietmar Nolte