Finishing bottom of UEFA Champions League Group D has not discouraged Borussia Mönchengladbach right-back Julian Korb from playing again at Europe's top table.
Speaking after Tuesday's decisive 4-2 defeat to Manchester City FC that put paid to Borussia's hopes of reaching the UEFA Europa League, the 23-year-old discussed the Foals' maiden Champions League voyage, why he wants to return to the competition and how his side plan to go about it - starting with this weekend's trip to fellow top-four contenders Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
Julian Korb, you made history by scoring Gladbach’s first away goal in the Champions League. Although it wasn’t enough, is it something you can still smile about?
Julian Korb: I’d have gladly traded my goal for a place in the Europa League. It’s tough the way it panned out. We played well in the first half and were always looking to turn defence into attack. It was relentless in the second half, though, and the pressure kept growing, which is no surprise given the quality City have.
Did the team pay the price for such a strong first-half showing in the end? You were out on your feet in the closing minutes.
Korb: We wanted to keep them at bay for as long as possible the second half, but they made it 2-2 very quickly. Then we heard that Sevilla had taken the lead [against Juventus]. We wanted to force the issue again in attack, but then they made it 3-2 and that was it.
In the end, was it Manchester City’s enormous quality or Gladbach’s lack of European experience that decided it?
Korb: Perhaps it was a mix of both. We gave a good account of ourselves in the Champions League, although we definitely should have picked up more points. Our points haul doesn’t tally with the amount of effort we put in. That’s what's particularly annoying. If we’d have lost four, going out wouldn’t have been so bad. They didn’t know that much about us beforehand, but we commanded respect from our opponents. We can still take plenty of positives from finishing fourth in the group.
You’re actually a right-back, but you played further forward against City and were able to get more involved in attack. Which position do you like best?
Korb: It was similar to the position I played in against Bayern, perhaps a bit more attack-minded. Wherever the coach puts me, I try to do my best. It’s more fun for me if I’m involved in the game and can get forward. But the coach is the boss and he’s the one who decides where I play. If the coach wants the full-backs to get forward more, I’ll try to put that into action. The new role can only benefit me, though.
Are you worried that the defeat is a bit of a setback ahead of Saturday’s game against Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga?
Korb: It’s still raw knowing that we’re out. We’re allowed to be disappointed. After that it's about clearing our heads and turning our attentions to Leverkusen. We’ve got our next tough assignment on Saturday. It’s not the easiest schedule playing Bayern, Man City and Leverkusen in the space of seven days, but we’re getting on with it.
What position will you play against Leverkusen?
Korb: I don’t know yet, you’ll have to ask the coach (laughs). Wherever it is, I’ll give it my best.
How optimistic are you that Gladbach will bee playing Champions League football next season?
Korb: At the moment, we’re third . We want to climb as high as possible and play like we have been in recent games. If we do that, playing in next season’s Champions League is realistic. It’s definitely given us a lot of pleasure and been a lot of fun.
Alexander Barklage reporting from Manchester