Munich - A 3-1 defeat on the opening day of the season wasn't the ideal way to get the ball rolling in the 51st Bundesliga campaign, but Borussia Mönchengladbach did themselves no injustice against FC Bayern Munich.
Though Alvaro Dominguez, who was twice penalised for handball inside the area during the second half, admitted that "conceding two penalties against a team like Bayern doesn’t help after working hard all week”, there were still plenty of positives from the Foals’ perspective.
It was on those plus points that striker Luuk de Jong wanted to focus in an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com after the encounter, as he shared his thoughts on how Gladbach can take the next step in their season and what message the Bundesliga’s 2013/14 curtain-raiser conveyed.
bundesliga.com: What were your impressions of Gladbach’s performance?
Luuk de Jong: I think we played a good game. We started well, but after 15-20 minutes we found ourselves two goals behind and I don’t think that was necessary, especially when you see how those goals were conceded. We’re normally strong at the back when dealing with those types of balls inside, but after that we still performed well. We had our chances and we made it 2-1 with a little bit of luck, but then you go into the second half with a good feeling.
bundesliga.com: What was said between the players during half time?
De Jong: That anything's possible. It was a great moment for us to pull a goal back to make it 2-1 and it was clear to see that the team came out much stronger in the second half.
bundesliga.com: Do you feel Gladbach performed better after the break?
De Jong: The team was definitely more confident. We were carving out goalscoring opportunities, but what happened with the penalties was disappointing for us. At that point it was 3-1 and unfortunately the game was over for us.
bundesliga.com: Though a win wasn’t on the cards for Gladbach tonight, how do you carry on after this performance?
De Jong: I think we’ve got to look at the positives from tonight and I think there were plenty of them. Of course it’s disappointing to lose 3-1, but against Bayern it’s not like the world is coming to an end; it happens. Now we can move forward, take a look at the video analysis and focus on the good moments.
bundesliga.com: So is Europe the aim for Gladbach this season?
De Jong: Yes. We really want to be in the mix. We played in Europe last season and we’d love to be playing there again next season. With this team we believe we have the quality to reach that target. Okay we lost today, but I feel we put in a really good performance on the pitch.
bundesliga.com: Speaking of quality, Max Kruse and Raffael have both come in during the summer. Do you feel those two players could make a real difference for Gladbach this season?
De Jong: Of course. They’re both really good players. Max is always running into space and Raffael has a great eye for playing the passes. I think they bring a lot to the squad and it’s always good to have a lot of players with quality.
bundesliga.com Are you looking forward to getting a chance to play alongside them?
De Jong: Definitely. I’m hoping to play every game and with them as well. Every player just wants to play football.
bundesliga.com: Finally, do you feel tonight’s encounter between two of the top-flight’s most talented sides was a strong advert for the league?
De Jong: The Bundesliga has grown a lot. This competition is one of the strongest in the world in my opinion. You can see that every game is a good game, like today, and every team can win and against every other team. Except maybe against Bayern, they’re quite good, but we also had a chance to win today so that’s also a positive. Last season we had Bayern and Dortmund in the final of the UEFA Champions League. It’s getting stronger each year and the league is growing with a lot of strong players wanting to move to Germany.
Interview by James Thorogood