FC Schalke 04 are a side on the up, with positive results coming from the recent UEFA Europa League clash with APOEL FC and Sunday's trip to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in the Bundesliga.
Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting scored the Royal Blues' only goal in that game to end his 13-game top-flight league drought. The 26-year-old spoke exclusively to bundesliga.com after Sunday's 1-1 draw at the BayArena.
bundesliga.com: Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting, you were just four minutes away from being the man of the moment, with goals potentially earning your team two 1-0 wins. Leverkusen may have denied you late on, but how much good has this week done you?
Choupo-Moting: Of course it's been great for me to celebrate scoring two goals, and for the team to take a win and a draw from these two matches. Getting a 1-1 in Leverkusen is fine, even if it's disappointing to concede an equaliser just before the end. We didn't play badly. Leverkusen had the better chances in the first period, but then it was our turn in the second. The result is a good 1-1 and we want to be positive and maybe do a thing or two better next week and keep our concentration high to the end. I have a good feeling we're going to beat Hannover at home [on Friday].
bundesliga.com: Do you get the impression that after going seven games without a win, Schalke have now turned the corner?
Choupo-Moting: I think so, yes. Our aim going into the APOEL game was to start picking up points again, no matter how. Even if we didn't get rave reviews for that game, I don't think it was as bad as people are making it out to have been. If we'd won by a greater margin, then I don't think anybody would have argued. It was a win, after all. That was a very important step for us, and we didn't lose in Leverkusen today, which is another one. It's always difficult at Leverkusen, they're one of the best teams in Germany. We were close to getting a win, but it just wasn't to be. Our performance was good, though.
bundesliga.com: Schalke would have been able to climb to fourth with victory, yet the draw instead leaves you eighth. What does the league table mean to you right now?
Choupo-Moting: You do keep an eye on it, but there's a long way to go. If you can win two games in a row then you're right back up there again, and the reverse is true as well. But we're only looking up and we know that we belong up at the top. We've now got three difficult Bundesliga matches to come and we want to win all of them.
bundesliga.com: You have had a long drought with not many goals this calendar year. What do you take out of this week?
Choupo-Moting: Goals do me good – any forward's delighted to score or set one up. But I can see the bigger picture and I know that there are phases when things don't go so well. I still always try to perform the best I can, even if I don't score. I know what I can do and the lads here at Schalke know that also. They have faith in me, and at the end of the day it is the team's performance that matters. If we play well as a team constantly, then each of the forwards will get chances and, sooner or later, score or create goals.
bundesliga.com: Your team-mates say you've been a little bit different on the field, showing more presence and more self-confidence. Have you felt that too?
Choupo-Moting: I think I had some good moments and had a good game. It's important for an attacking player to get touches of the ball. I thrive on being able to dribble the ball and go one on one. I felt good.
bundesliga.com: What's the plan leading up to the winter break to ensure Schalke can have a relaxing festive period?
Choupo-Moting: We're trying to take each game as it comes. Of course we want to win every one of them.
bundesliga.com: This coming Friday, you are at home against Hannover. They've picked up more points away than they have at home this season, but their 4-0 win over Ingolstadt was something of a statement. How hard is that game going to be?
Choupo-Moting: Hannover are definitely high on confidence and it's not going to be easy. It'll be a fight because they are still right down there and we're going to have to give it 100 per cent. I think we have more quality as a team. We have to believe and do everything to win this game.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting was talking to Tobias Gonscherowski.