Gelsenkirchen - FC Schalke 04 gave the perfect answer to those claiming they have become too defensive in view of Matchday 23's Revierderby defeat to Borussia Dortmund with a 3-1 win over TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Saturday.
'Both Choupo-Moting's assists were great'
The transformation bore the signature of one player more than any other. Max Meyer brought the Schalke attack to life, inspiring the Royal Blues to success with his first ever Bundesliga brace and earning praise from all quarters. "The whole team played well, but Max stood out today. He was key to our win," said head coach Roberto Di Matteo.
Speaking after the Veltins Arena encounter, Meyer was full of praise for his Schalke team-mates, and looked ahead to Tuesday's UEFA Champions League fixture away to Real Madrid CF.
Question: Max Meyer, that performance bore little resemblance to the display in the Revierderby last week. What do you think Schalke did better today?
Max Meyer: We put pressure on Hoffenheim right from the off. We didn’t let them get into their stride at all, didn’t give them any space and managed to create a whole host of chances. The fans were behind us, which helped. At the end of the day we thoroughly deserved the victory.
Question: Robert Di Matteo didn’t really change much in terms of tactics, but the attitude seemed a lot different [to last week]. Is it true he spoke about winning some pride back before the match?
Meyer: We had a lot to think about in the build-up to the game. The way we performed in Dortmund last week is unacceptable in the Bundesliga - no matter who you’re playing against. We knew we had a lot to put right. Everyone was highly motivated, which you could see in the first half. We played really well, but ran out of puff a bit towards the end of the match.
'I'd like to better my haul from last season'
Question:Leon Goretzka said that he had predicted you would score two before the game, and that you would set one up for him too…
Meyer: That's true, we did talk about it beforehand (smiles). I did set him up too and he really should have done more with it. Maybe it will work out next time. In any case, I'm delighted that he's back again after his long injury.
Question: For your celebration, you covered your ears - what did that mean?
Meyer: That's my secret.
Question: So are you going to cover your eyes and then your mouth for the next goals?
Meyer: (Smiles) No, I'm not copying Marco Reus and his celebration. I'm just spontaneous when it comes to celebrating. It only comes to me when I actually score, and that is what I did this time.
Question: How many more goals are we going to see from you this term?
Meyer: I got six last season and now I'm on five. I'd like to get a few more and certainly better my haul from last season.
'We'll give a good impression in Madrid'
Question: How do you rate Schalke's chances of reaching the Champions League last 16 after losing 2-0 to Real Madrid in the first leg?
Meyer: We've got to be realistic, and for us to go through will be very difficult. We wasted the chance to put ourselves into a good position in the home leg, but we still want to give a good impression of ourselves in Madrid and get the best result possible.
Question: Can you lose anything more in this game?
Meyer: If they slaughter us, then of course we lose more than just the game. But that's not what we're all about. We're going to make a good impression on Tuesday.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Gelsenkirchen