Bremen - Deep inside the Weserstadion, Carlos Zambrano was palpably surprised when bundesliga.com informed him that Schalke 04 had just lost at home to VfB Stuttgart.
"What, Schalke lost?" he exclaimed, quite taken aback. Had Eintracht Frankfurt won at Werder Bremen, rather than sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw, they would thus be going into the final matchday of the season level on 52 points with the Royal Blues in the race for fourth place and a qualifying shot at the UEFA Champions League.
The the 23-year-old Peruvian central defender soon regained his composure, though, and turned his focus to the final game of the season against VfL Wolfsburg, as well as reflecting on what has been a great campaign for the promoted Eagles.
bundesliga.com: Carlos Zambrano, are you happy with a draw at Bremen?
Zambrano: To get a point away from home is nearly always a good result, but since Gladbach and Hamburg have both won, we can’t really be happy with it. We made things unnecessarily difficult for ourselves, particularly at the start of the first half, but we battled back into the game and managed to draw level. The point certainly helps us more than it harms us, though.
bundesliga.com: But with Schalke losing, Frankfurt missed a great chance to move up to fourth...
Zambrano: What? Schalke lost?
bundesliga.com: Yes, 2-1 to Stuttgart.
Zambrano: I’d not heard that yet. Of course that’s bitter for us. The qualifying matches for the Champions League would have been great, but we’ve still got to be happy that we can qualify for a place in Europe off our own backs.
bundesliga.com: And it’s always better to celebrate in front of your own fans...
Zambrano:(laughs) Yes, that’s true. But VfL Wolfsburg are a tremendous team. We’re going to have to stay totally focused if we're to achieve our goal.
bundesliga.com: Has the season been like a dream come true for you so far?
Zambrano: We could hardly have imagined a better outcome if we’d tried. For me personally, it was important to remain free from injury, that's something I'm very grateful for. The coach has shown faith in me and my teammates and the entire club have given me great support as well. All the rest is hard work and I aim to continue that way. Then successcomes of its own accord.
bundesliga.com: And what is the secret to Eintracht’s success?
Zambrano: There's an incredible common spirit. We're a young team and spend a lot of time together away from the game, as well. We go and eat out with our families or do other things together. And I think that’s reflected out on the pitch.
Interview by Michael Reis