After being plunged head first into a Bundesliga relegation battle, Papy Djilobodji has made an immediate impression at new club SV Werder Bremen.
The Senegalese centre-back joined Bremen on a six -month loan from Chelsea FC in January, and he is wasting no time in proving his worth to the struggling north German outfit. Strong in the tackle, robust and even explosive, Djilobodji has played a huge role in restabilising Werder's defence in recent weeks.
He has also been effective at the other end of the pitch, scoring a crucial goal in Bremen's 1-1 draw with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim on Matchday 21.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, the 27-year-old talks about his first impressions of the Bundesliga, his determination to avoid relegation, and the impending crunch fixture against SV Darmstadt 98.
bundesliga.com: Papy Djilobodji, you have been at SV Werder Bremen for five weeks. What have been your first impressions of the club?
Papy Djilobodji: I've been happy here since the day I arrived. At Chelsea, I wasn't getting any game time, but I'm playing regularly now and enjoying it. It's doing me good. All my new team mates were very welcoming. We're obviously not happy with our results in the Bundesliga at the moment, but we fully believe that we can avoid relegation.
'The Bundesliga is a spectacular league'
bundesliga.com: After just one training session, you put in a superb performance against FC Schalke 04 on your debut for Bremen. Why was it so easy for you to settle into this team?
Djilobodji: I'm 27 years old now, so I have a good amount of experience. That helped me to integrate into the team quickly. But I have to say: my team mates made it very easy for me too. That first game went brilliantly; we showed we have potential. That's why I'm optimistic about our chances of survival.
bundesliga.com: What do you think of the attacking football which Werder and other Bundesliga teams tend to play? Are you suited to it?
Djilobodji: I love this style of football. The Bundesliga is a spectacular league. It wasn't difficult for me to adapt, because my own style is well suited to the way football is played in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com: What do you think about the atmosphere in Bundesliga stadiums?
Djilobodji: I like it a lot. The games are always sold out, the atmosphere is always great. For a player, it's so enjoyable to play in this league. The Bremen fans are great, too. They are constantly cheering us on, even when things aren't going so well. For the sake of the fans, we have to do everything we can to make sure we stay up.
'It's a six-pointer'
bundesliga.com: How much quality do you think there is in the team?
Djilobodji: In Claudio Pizarro and our captain Clemens Fritz we have two players who can set the tone. We can always rely on them. We have a good squad in general, and if we play as well as we can in the next few weeks, there's no doubt we will stay in the Bundesliga.
bundesliga.com: How important is the next home game against SV Darmstadt 98?
Djilobodji: Darmstadt are one of our direct rivals in the relegation battle, so it's obviously a six-pointer. But it's important for us not to put any more pressure on ourselves. We have to stay calm and play patiently. But yes, this is obviously a very important game to win. In order to do that, we have to fight harder, run more and win more tackles than the opposition. If we do that, I'm convinced we will get the three points.