Wolfsburg - With the 2015/16 campaign looming, VfL Wolfsburg’s victory on penalties over FC Bayern München in the Supercup 2015 sent out an important message to the rest of the Bundesliga: the titleholders are not infallible.
‘We kept believing’
One player in particular stole the show in a breathless encounter on Saturday in Lower Saxony, and that man was Nicklas Bendtner. The Danish striker came off the bench to not only scored the all-important equaliser with just minutes to spare but also convert the winning penalty on what was a crowing evening for the ‘The Lord’, as he is affectionately referred to on social media.
Though he jokingly complained of having to do “eight different interviews” post-match, the 27-year-old had the swagger of a match-winner but the humility to deflect praise, as he instead focused on the team's effort. Talking to the assembled press with confetti still in his hair, Bendtner discussed the ideal start to the 2015/16 campaign, Wolfsburg’s desire to compete for the Bundesliga title and his own personal targets for the season.
Question: Nicklas Bendtner, today was your day - your first real highlight with VfL Wolfsburg. How do you feel?
Nicklas Bendtner: I don’t care. Of course I’m happy with the goal and the penalty, but I thought personally that today was about the team performance. I thought that every player on the pitch believed in what we could achieve for 90 minutes and at the end of the day I think that’s what got us the win. It was a great game throughout. When I looked at Kevin [De Bruyne], he had been running all game and I thought he may not make it until the end because of the amount of ground he covered, but then he produced an extra burst of energy and I could see that he was going to deliver the ball in. It was a good goal, but a better team performance.
Question: What were the instructions from the head coach when you came off the bench?
Bendtner: Go and try to score the equaliser. It was as simple as that. He told me to get on the pitch and try and keep the ball as best I could and to try and find the back of the net.
Question: Was it your decision to take the last penalty?
Bendtner: No, we chose who would go one, two, three, four, five before the penalty shootout, but it wasn’t my decision.
Question: Was this the perfect start to the season for Wolfsburg?
Bendtner: I think so. It’s good that we’ve proven at such an early stage of the season that we can compete with the likes of FC Bayern München, because early on in this game they could probably have been ahead by one or maybe even two-nil, but they didn’t take their chances. We had big chances ourselves through Kevin and Bas [Dost], which we didn’t make the most of, but realistically they probably should have been ahead in the first half. As I said, we kept believing and when we needed that moment of belief [for a goal] to come off, and it did. Then we needed a goalkeeper who had to save a penalty, which he did, and then we needed five guys to score from the spot. Every penalty was really well taken.
‘We have to play the role of challengers’
Question: Do you and your team-mates now feel like you're on a par with FC Bayern?
Bendtner: I think it’s hard to compare us with FC Bayern. Bayern have won I don’t know how many Bundesliga titles  and for that reason I personally don’t think you can compare any team to FC Bayern. They're once again favourites to win the title this season because of the team they have and the history. So we have to play the role of challengers and take it game by game and see where we’re at come the end of the season.
Question: Is there a confidence in the squad that you could really challenge FC Bayern at the top of the table?
Bendtner: We’re going to try at the very least. If we can copy what we did in the previous campaign and maybe shave a few more points off FC Bayern, then it’s a really, really good achievement.
‘We’ve all been waiting for this moment’
Question: There’s a DFB Cup game in between, but looking ahead to the start of the Bundesliga season is the squad raring to go and get the campaign underway?
Bendtner: I think every player looks forward to having a summer holiday, but then immediately looks forward to coming back and playing football again. So everyone is ready to go. We’ve had one month of pre-season which no one really likes and so we’ve all been waiting for this moment. Now we’ve started this season we want to make the most out of it.
Question: After this great start coming off the bench and making a real impact, have you set yourself any personal targets for the upcoming campaign?
Bendtner: Yes I have a lot, but I’m not going to tell you about them [laughs].
James Thorogood reporting from the Volkswagen Arena