Ahead of Augsburg's weekend trip to face local rivals Bayern Munich, bundesliga.com caught up with Philipp Max to discuss the Bavarian side's impressive start to the season and hear the future goals of the Olympic silver medallist with Germany.
bundesliga.com: Philipp Max, first and foremost you’re a defender, but lately you have been providing assists and scoring goals yourself, and even leading the league in some statistics. Where is this new style coming from?
Phillip Max: Statistics are always like that. I haven’t changed and started to do anything that I wasn’t doing before. That is pretty nice and of course I am really happy about the start I have made to the season, but I have to continue to do the same.
bundesliga.com: Is your father (Martin Max) proud that you have made it as a Bundesliga player? After all, he was the top goalscorer in the league on a number of occasions.
Max: It's not just him (who is proud), but the whole family is really happy about how things are going for me and us as a team at the moment. Until now we’ve kept ourselves well away from the lower rungs in the league. Of course we want to keep it that way and continue on as we have started.
bundesliga.com: How do you explain Augsburg’s good start to the season?
Max: Our coach [Manuel Baum] had a long time to work and prepare with us. We studied a lot of aspects of the game and we speak to each other. We have a homogeneous team. Ours is a big squad but everyone pulls their weight and that’s the big recipe for success for me. Everyone wants to prove themselves.
bundesliga.com: Part of the success can also be attributed to coach Baum – a former teacher of yours. How is it working with him?
Max: He tries to convey his ideas surrounding football to us and as our results have shown this season, he is doing that very well. Despite there being the odd language barrier with some players, the message generally gets across.
bundesliga.com: Was Baum a good teacher?
Max: He was very understanding. As we were at a sports school and had to train a lot, he understood we sometimes needed breaks. If we had late hours with him, he would sometimes let us go early.
bundesliga.com: And is he a very analytical as a coach?
Max: Absolutely. We study our opponents before games and see where we can improve. He is very intense on that aspect and introduces new systems. We’ve played three or four different systems this season, for example. It has made us a very adaptable team.
bundesliga.com: Do you get more motivated playing against the bigger teams?
Max: I have absolutely no motivational problems (laughs). Whether we are playing against a team from the lower leagues or a Champions League contender, I always try to give 100 per cent in every game and look to win.
bundesliga.com: What are you current and future goals?
Max: My goal is to play as much as possible. It’s also crucial that we want to achieve success as a team and that we get as many points as possible in order to gain a good position in the standings. In my two years here, it has always been about last-second survival. It would be nice to have a calmer season.
bundesliga.com: What type of influence did you father have on you?
Max: As a kid, I saw the situation as a disadvantageous one because the first thing that would always be mentioned was that my dad was also a professional footballer. But it is something that has developed well. He observes quietly but doesn’t advise as he feels that everyone who plays in the Bundesliga should find their own way. He was always a great support and would find the right words to say at the right time which really helped me.
bundesliga.com: Was winning the silver medal with Germany at the 2016 Olympic Games the highlight of your career so far?
Max: When I was selected at that time, it was something very special. I wasn’t expecting the call, even though I had played almost 30 games under [former Augsburg coach] Marcus Weinzierl and there were other players who had been with the national team for a long time. It’s why I was so proud when the time came and I was chosen to be a part of the squad, I had never been a part of a national youth team before. And then when the medal arrived, it was a moment for goosebumps.
bundesliga.com: Is the senior international team now a goal for you?
Max: Once you have been there, it’s always something special when you think about it. To wear the national team shirt is the greatest honour there is as a German footballer. I do not worry too much about [making it]. I try to be successful with Augsburg and after that, we’ll see what happens.
bundesliga.com: Do you have any role models?
Max: I like to watch the best in the world in my position, whether that be Real Madrid’s Marcelo or David Alaba of Bayern Munich. I could go through a list of all the top clubs but you essentially try to learn from those I mentioned.
bundesliga.com: How much at home do you feel in Augsburg?
Max: My girlfriend is from here and I feel very well and at home in this place. I’ve been living in Munich for eleven years so it’s not an unknown place for me; Augsburg is a short distance away. At my club and privately, things are going well so I feel great here in Augsburg.
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