Altach - The new season can start tomorrow, according to Borussia Dortmund defender , who says he does not need a rest after the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
The Greek defender was a stalwart of the Dortmund defence last season, and he intends to make BVB's backline even more watertight in 2014/15. "I've had enough time to relax," he said. "I'm fit and can't wait for the new season to begin."
That feeling is common throughout the Dortmund squad as the 2013/14 Bundesliga runners-up bid to be more of a nuisance to FC Bayern München in the coming campaign. "I'm expecting to do better than last year, and the team should also be looking to take a step forwards," added Papastathopoulos, who has an additional responsibility over the coming months - ensuring new signing Ciro Immobile feels at home in Westphalia.
"I'm not the only one who can speak Italian - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang can too - and it's going to be our task to help him and the other new players settle in as quickly as possible," explained the Greek who, like Aubameyang, used to ply his trade at Serie A giants AC Milan. The duo appear to be doing their job, with coach Jürgen Klopp encouraged by the progress Immobile is making after some initial teething problems.
"He was good today, but he wasn't yesterday," Klopp said on Friday. "Ciro has the feeling that he's constantly being scrutinised by the coaching staff and the press. He's just got to get used to the way things are here." It may take some time for the Azzurri international to adjust to life in Germany, but if he can get anywhere near the 22 goals he scored for Torino FC last season, few will still be reminiscing about Robert Lewandowski come May.
Unlike Immobile, fellow newcomer Adrian Ramos has prior experience of playing in the Bundesliga which, according to Sven Bender, has helped him settle in at the club. "He's only been here a few days, but he's already made a fantastic impression," the 25-year-old midfielder said of the Colombian, who spent five years at Hertha Berlin before joining Dortmund this summer.
"They are both very, very good guys and they have proven themselves plenty of times already," continued Bender. "They're really going to make an impact here." Both Immobile and Ramos started in attack in Dortmund's 1-0 victory over Chievo Verona on Friday, which saw Gabon international Aubameyang net the only goal of BVB's penultimate warm-up match ahead of the DFL Supercup.
Next Sunday, Klopp's charges face Liverpool FC before hosting FC Bayern München in the curtain raiser to a season many in Westphalia, Papastathopoulos included, are hoping will see the gap to the Bavarians bridged. "If we put into practice what the coach wants, then we will concede fewer goals," he said. "We've got to improve, and we will."