Munich - Despite boasting a 17-point lead at the Bundesliga summit, FC Bayern Munich can't afford to rest on their laurels against 1899 Hoffenheim, according to holding midfielder .
14 months after swapping Sinsheim for Bavaria, the Brazilian international is ready to return to his former stomping ground, where he made 109 appearances in all competitions before his move in January 2011.
It was at Hoffenheim where Gustavo first made a name for himself in German football, helping the Swabian outfit to Bundesliga promotion in his debut campaign, before emerging as one of the most sought-after defensive midfielders in Germany's top flight.
However, the 25-year-old, who has set a personal record by netting three times this season, is fully focused on Bayern's fortunes ahead of this weekend's reunion. "We're determined to win on Sunday; we want to pick up three points and we'll play our usual game there as well," Gustavo exclusively told bundesliga.com after Wednesday's over Borussia Dortmund.
1899 currently find themselves in an automatic relegation spot after repeatedly finishing in mid-table in recent seasons, but Gustavo believes that could make them an even harder opponent to overcome. "We know they're in a difficult situation and, as a result, they'll fight because they're in desperate need of a win," explained the Bayern midfielder. "We've got to be ready for it though, and maintain our style of play."
Gustavo is yet to be handed a start against his former club, but admitted it was difficult witnessing their current predicament from afar. "Of course I still have friends there and considering I have a history with Hoffenheim, it's not nice to see them in their current state," the Brazilian added.
"Writing a new chapter"
Ambitious by nature, Gustavo, who referred to himself as Bayern's "vacuum" in an interview with German publication tz, has been one of the record title-holders' most dependable professionals this season. In 13 league appearances, the midfielder has completed over 95 per cent of his passes, won over 60 per cent of his tackles and covered, on average, just under 12 kilometres per game.
Competing for a starting spot with the likes of and the Bundesliga's record signing is far from straightforward, but Gustavo nevertheless believes he has a bright future ahead of him, starting with this weekend's encounter. "I'm playing for Bayern now and I'm putting in a lot of work, writing a new chapter in my story," stated the 25-year-old. "I want to lift trophies here, therefore I still want to win on Sunday."
Interview by James Thorogood