Belek - As has been the case in recent seasons, Borussia Mönchengladbach enjoyed a highly impressive Hinrunde in 2014/15, ending the calendar year in the UEFA Champions League qualifying spot with 27 points from 17 matches.
'After two weeks off, your batteries are still pretty full'
Patrick Herrmann was one of the standout performers in Lucien Favre’s side during the first half of the campaign, and with Gladbach battling for success on three fronts this season, the 23-year-old is confident of helping his side achieve success this term.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the winger shares his thoughts on Gladbach’s season so far, his own goalscoring record and the Foals’ chances of success in 2015.
bundesliga.com: Patrick Herrmann, how did you spend your Christmas holidays?
Patrick Herrmann: I was with my family in the Saarland over Christmas and I spent New Year’s at a spa hotel in Berchtesgaden, just to relax a little bit. It did me a lot of good.
bundesliga.com: Do you think about football at all during the holidays or do you try and forget about it completely.
Herrmann: Obviously you try and switch off a little bit, but I can’t forget about football completely, even during the holidays. The English Premier League played through the Christmas period and I tuned in for a lot of those games. Then you automatically start thinking about your own team and the imminent return to action, and that gets you pretty excited.
'I'm doing well in the Europa League'
bundesliga.com: Gladbach are battling on three fronts this season. Did the break come at the right time or did Lucien Favre’s squad rotation policy help keep fitness levels up?
Herrmann: His rotation definitely played a key role in our success and prevented us from burning out completely, but the break still came at the right time for us after playing so many matches and having to travel long distances in the Europa League.
bundesliga.com: After a slow start you really hit form during the latter part of the Hinrunde. We’re you worried when things weren’t going so well earlier in the season?
Herrmann: Worried isn’t really the right word, but I admit that I often asked myself what I was doing wrong and why I wasn’t playing more regularly. You soon start to look forward again, though, and tell yourself that when you do get your chance, you’ll give everything to keep your place in the side. That should always be the aim. Even if your team-mates are in better form, you have to stay calm. That’s exactly what I did and that’s what my colleagues do when they’re in a similar situation. I think that sets us apart and has contributed to our success this season.
'We fully believe in our qualities'
Herrmann: It goes without saying that Thorgan, Ibo and Andre have added to the overall quality to our squad, particularly on the flanks. You always benefit from training and playing with players of that calibre. The competition for places makes you strive to improve your own game that little bit more. I definitely see it as a positive thing.
bundesliga.com: Are you in a positive frame of mind going into the second half of the campaign?
Herrmann: Definitely. We had a great Hinrunde and want to continue in that vein [after the winter break]. That's why we’re going to work very hard at our training camp.
bundesliga.com: Last season you followed up an impressive first season-half by going on a nine-game winless run, and traditionally, Borussia have always been better in the first half of the campaign than in the second. Is that stat at the back of your minds at all or are the media making too much of it?
Herrmann: That’s just the media. We’re obviously aware of that statistic but that doesn’t mean it’ll happen again this season. I’m confident that we can buck that particular trend.
bundesliga.com: In what areas do you feel Gladbach can improve?
Herrmann: We need to work on keeping the ball better and controlling our opponents a little more. If we do that, we should be able to create even more scoring opportunities. In the first half of the campaign we didn’t always make the most of our chances, but if we sort that out I’m confident we’ll have a very good Rückrunde.
bundesliga.com: You had a few problems in defence after Martin Stranzl’s injury towards the end of the Hinrunde.
Herrmann: Martin is an exceptional centre-back, no doubt, but Roel Brouwers did very well in his absence. It would be wrong to blame our shortcomings on an individual or the mistakes of an individual player. The first half of the campaign showed how important it is to be solid at the back. Up front we’re always good for a goal or two.
bundesliga.com: Borussia have done well in every competition so far this season. You’re playing fourth-division Kickers Offenbach in the next round of the DFB Cup. If you win that one, it’s only two more games until the final…
Herrmann: We’ve thought about that every now and then. We lost the semi-final to FC Bayern München three years ago, but we all experienced how good it feels when you get that far in the competition. Obviously we’d like to experience that again, but we’ll have to win in Offenbach first. That’ll be tricky enough.
Herrmann: I’m happy about that. If we manage to put in a good performance in Sevilla, the Borussia Park will be rocking for the return leg. Anything will be possible then.
bundesliga.com: Schalke, Augsburg and Hoffenheim are your closest rivals in the Bundesliga. Do you think BVB could still mount a serious challenge on the European places?
Herrmann: Everyone knows about Borussia Dortmund’s quality. If they play to their strengths in the Rückrunde, they’ll be on everyone's radar.
bundesliga.com: The relegation battle and fight for Europe are set to remain close until the very end, but the title race looks to be over already…
Herrmann: Nothing’s over yet (laughs)! Mathematically, everything’s still possible. In all seriousness though, everyone who knows Bayern knows that the eleven-point gap between them and Wolfsburg is probably insurmountable.
Patrick Herrmann was talking to Andreas Kötter