Six months ago, VfL Wolfsburg got the better of Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Cup final in Berlin. On Matchday 15, the two teams renew their rivalry in the Bundesliga with second travelling to third for a true six-pointer.
bundesliga.com: Christian Träsch, football fans all over the world are looking forward to this weekend, when the top four teams in the Bundesliga all meet. Gladbach host Bayern and you welcome Dortmund to the Volkswagen Arena. Do you expect the top four to be packed tighter together at the end of Matchday 15?
Christian Träsch: I hope so! We're only focusing on ourselves to start with, because Bayern are unreachable right now. But we want three points against Dortmund and that would edge us up towards them.
bundesliga.com: Between now and the winter break, Wolfsburg have three more matches in the Bundesliga and one in the UEFA Champions League. How would you rate your season so far?
Träsch: With mixed feelings. We're doing alright in the Bundesliga and we're currently top of our group in the Champions League and can get through off our own backs. Unfortunately, Bayern have already knocked us out of the DFB Cup and we had times when we were not entirely pleased with the football we were playing, but - all in all - we can be pretty happy to be third.
bundesliga.com: There was a bit of a dip after a strong start to the season, with three or four games and results which were not so good. Since then, you've been picking up consistently good results again. How stable would you say the team is?
Träsch: First of all, you've got to remember that we lost some important players in Kevin De Bruyne, Ivan Perisic and Aaron Hunt, which means it was almost to be expected that things would not be so easy. We've managed to deal with these losses pretty well, though, and we do have a certain degree of stability. Things are falling into place and we can build on this.
bundesliga.com: It's always more difficult to repeat success than it is to taste it once. Have you been able to do justice to the standards you set by finishing second and winning the Cup last season?
Träsch: Rising to the top is one thing, staying there is another. It's always difficult to repeat successes and that's what we're working on now. We want to be up there in the long-term and to keep playing in the Champions League on a regular basis. We're heading in the right direction, even if there's always something to improve.
bundesliga.com: This is your fifth season with Wolfsburg, how happy are you with your role within the team?
'We've got nothing to hide from'
Träsch: It wasn't so easy for me when I first joined Wolfsburg. Things were not going as well as the club and I had hoped. We weren't able to challenge at the top and like so often in life, we had to take a step back before we could move forward. The same went for me. I've always been very happy in Wolfsburg with my family and I enjoy going to training every day and playing games, and I think you can see that on the field. This is how I want things to continue.
bundesliga.com: Your next game is bound to be an enjoyable one with Borussia Dortmund coming to town. Is this a match to determine which is the number two club in Germany?
Träsch: We know that Dortmund have some extraordinary quality and they've managed to shake off last season, which didn't go so well for them. Now you can see how well they can play football. They've got incredible quality up front, but we also want to show that we're not up there by fluke and that we've also got quality. We've got nothing to hide from.
bundesliga.com: How important is this game? If you lose, Dortmund would pull ten points clear of you, so does that mean you cannot afford to lose?
Träsch: You can always lose a game, but we want to reduce the deficit on Dortmund and that makes this an eminently important game.
bundesliga.com: Are you surprised by how well Borussia have bounced back this season?
'Dortmund have one of the best attacks in Europe'
Träsch: No. I was more surprised with how badly they dipped in the first half of last term, to be honest. We saw the real Dortmund in the second half of the season and in the DFB Cup final. Those games were evenly-matched. Like I said, we know how much quality is in Dortmund's ranks.
Träsch: It's certainly not going to be easy. Dortmund have one of the best attacks in Europe so we're going to have to try to keep things tight across the park and not let Dortmund play their game. Then, we've got to build on our own strengths with our excellent transitions and try to get ourselves into good scoring positions. You can defend against Dortmund, as we've already seen in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com: Wolfsburg can also rely on their extraordinary strength at home – you have not lost at home for what will soon be two years. Is your success largely based on this dominance at home?
Träsch: Unfortunately, if you look at our form home and away, it speaks volumes. This is something we've got to improve in the coming weeks. Of course, we hope that we can extend our unbeaten record at home even further. We find it easier at home with our fans behind us and we want to show that again this Saturday.
Christian Träsch was talking to Tobias Gonscherowski