As two of the standout performers in Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 Revierderby win over local rivals FC Schalke 04, midfield general Ilkay Gündogan and goalscoring right-back Matthias Ginter had ample reason to be cheerful on Sunday evening.
Local bragging rights in the bag, the Dortmund duo were only too happy to share their pride and delight with the assembled press after the game.
Ilkay Gündogan, a thrilling derby, a win to savour and all in all a fantastic vibe in the stadium. What did you make of the atmosphere?
Ilkay Gündogan: As always, it was sensational. You could feel it before the game during the warm-up. You could even hear the fans singing when we got back to the dressing room. That was really cool. And when we scored it was unbelievable. In that respect, we’re really spoiled here in Dortmund. It’s always a fantastic feeling to celebrate in front of the Südtribüne.
Matthias Ginter, you scored and set up a goal - is that how you imagined the derby?
Matthias Ginter: Actually, as a defender, I never go into a game just to score and lay on an assist. My main task is obviously to defend. Basically, I want to help the team, play well and pick up three points. I’m more happy about the team winning than my own performance.
What was your celebration about? It looked like some sort of windscreen wiper motion.
Ginter: That was meant for a couple of friends at my hometown club. I promised them I’d celebrate like that if I scored. We talked about it before the start of the season. Then when you actually score, you’re so overcome with emotion that you don’t think about these things, but fortunately I did think of it this time.
Shinji Kagawa opened the scoring with a header - only the second headed goal of his Bundesliga career. Did that surprise you?
Gündogan: (laughs) Shinji made it look easy. No, seriously: he got away from his marker brilliantly. He can certainly keep that up.
What was key to the win?
Ginter: Rather than trying out anything unusual, we just wanted to impose our own game on Schalke. We wanted to keep things simple as much as possible and not complicate things. That’s what we did for long periods in the game.
Is it fair to say the two goals you conceded were a bit unlucky?
Ginter: We didn’t really give much away. If we’d have dropped points or lost, then we would only have had ourselves to blame. On the one hand, we could have gone for 4-1 or 4-2 up. On the other, we could have defended better [for Schalke’s goals]. In the end, though, the win is the right result.
Gündogan: We let Schalke back into it, even though the game wasn’t actually that close - but we were never in any real danger. We could have scored again to make it 4-2 late on - I could have, too. The main thing, though, is that we got the three points.
A derby win alone is a massive deal, but now you’ve opened up a gap on the teams behind you in the .
Gündogan: We know that it was an important step. In that sense, the win was massive. The table’s looking good for us right now and it shows that we’re definitely on the right track.
Ginter: We knew before the game that Leverkusen and Wolfsburg had lost and that Gladbach could only draw. With Schalke being direct rivals, it was a real six-pointer. We wanted to keep Schalke at arm’s length and build on our advantage in the standings and we managed to do that brilliantly. Now we’re nine points ahead of them and eight ahead of Wolfsburg - that shows how important this win was.
Now you can hunt down FC Bayern München…
Ginter: (laughs) No, No…
Gündogan: Five points isn’t all that much, but our focus is on extending the gap on third and fourth. That’s respectable enough given how Bayern sometimes dominate the opposition. You have to give kudos for that. What’s important, though, is that we focus on ourselves, continue to develop our game and get stronger. Then at the end of the season we’ll take what we can get.