After FC Bayern München’s 3-0 victory over nearest challengers RB Leipzig, centre-back Mats Hummels – under a thick knitted hat – met with the post-match press pack.
bundesliga.com caught up with the 28-year-old to get his thoughts on his first six months with the Bundesliga’s record champions, and that curious new haircut…
Question: Mats Hummels, what was the most important factor in your victory over RB Leipzig?
Mats Hummels: There were a lot of things. We showed intensity from the beginning. We didn't let Leipzig create the chances they wanted to. We almost completely avoided their fast counter-attacks after stealing the ball back. We just played a superb game and we can be very satisfied. After the red card [for Leipzig's Emil Forsberg in the 30th minute with the scores at 2-0] the game was pretty much decided. Within a few minutes everything went perfectly for us.
Watch: Thiago on Hummels' new haircut!:
Question: Was this Bayern’s best first half in the first half of the season?
Hummels: You could say that. Given the strong opposition, I think our performance stands out even more. I think we, the team, can regard it as a strong performance.
Question: Do you think Leipzig will be able to stay at the top end of the table until the end of the season?
Hummels: It's possible, but so many factors play a role here, especially ourselves. We just have to do our homework. In general, it's safe to back Leipzig to do well because their team just has so much quality. With Emil Forsberg, I think they lost their best player, which is unfortunate for them. But there's a lot to admire about their team for the way they've been playing.
Question: And what about the team?
Hummels: We've had two small dips in form, each with three games that we failed to win. Otherwise, we can be satisfied on the whole. To have 39 points after 16 games is no small feat in the Bundesliga. This is a good record. In the Champions League only the game in Rostov [a 3-2 reverse on Matchday 5] stands out as a low point, otherwise everything was okay.
Question: Philipp Lahm has said repeatedly that it takes time for the team to get used to the new coach, Carlo Ancelotti. Have you reached that point now?
Hummels: It looks like it now. If we were to have a difficult phase - which we hope won't happen - we might say something different. So I think we’re at that point, but things can change so quickly in football.
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Question: You have kept a fourth clean sheet in a row, and without the injured Jerome Boateng…
Hummels: We've only let in nine goals in 16 games. It's important we stay healthy and have strength in depth. If Jerome Boateng is now out for six weeks, he actually only misses two games and is probably back in early February. But knowing that the team can function regardless is a good thing, obviously.
Question: What do you expect from your winter training camp in Doha?
Hummels: I was in Dubai last year for my winter training camp [with Borussia Dortmund], and there were perfect conditions for training. I hope it will be similar in Doha.
Question: What about your hair colour? Did you lose a bet or just want something new?
Hummels: I lost a bet privately with a group of friends, I wouldn't have done it by myself (laughs). I had to play with this haircut for at least one game of 2016. Since I chose the match that was first against second in the league, it gets the most attention.
Question: What have the reactions been like?
Hummels: They were all very surprised, but there was no one who said, "You look disfigured", or anything like that. The best response was: "It doesn’t look as bad as I hoped!" (laughs).
Maximilian Lotz reporting from Munich