Cologne - With four points from their opening two matches, Hertha Berlin have made an impressive start to the new Bundesliga season. Now though they face a trip to table-toppers Borussia Dortmund. Ahead of the match, bundesliga.com caught up with Hertha’s Swiss international midfielder Valentin Stocker.
bundesliga.com: Valentin Stocker, how happy are you with four points from two games at the start of the season?
Valentin Stocker: I am happy, even though we could have got six points. But we have to stay modest. We could also have conceded another goal in Augsburg or against Bremen. So we are happy overall.
bundesliga.com: What has worked well and where do you need to improve?
Stocker: We’ve allowed fewer shots on goal. You can never eliminate the possibility because our opponents also know how to play football. We need to take more of the chances we create, but we are happy that we are at least creating more.
'Our style of play suits my own perfectly'
bundesliga.com: After a difficult start, you weighed in with three goals and nine assists in the second-half of last season. How satisfied are you with your personal development?
Stocker: I would have liked to have played more at the start but things weren’t going so well. But that’s football and that’s life - things don’t always just get better and better. So I am glad that I could, and still can, show people in Berlin what I can do and that I enjoy playing here.
bundesliga.com: How far did you profit from the change of coach when Pal Dardai came in?
Stocker: I certainly profited from it because Dardai immediately showed his faith in me. I’d describe our relationship as very good, at least from my point of view (laughs). Our style of play at the moment suits my own perfectly.
bundesliga.com: Competition for placces in midfield has increased with the return of Alexander Baumjohann and the signing of Mitchell Weiser. Do Hertha now have more tactical options at their disposal and is there a risk of you being relegated to the bench?
Stocker: First of all I wouldn’t have a problem being on the bench on occasion. If the coach comes up to you and says „that is part of my tactical plan and you have played lots of matches and are looking tired,“ then I’m the last person that would get angry. Of course I hope we have more options now that several players have returned - Tolga Cigerci is fit again for example. Unfortunately though, it’s often the case that when one player comes back, another gets injured as Sami Allagui or Jens Hegeler have done. But if everyone is fit, then the coach will have more options and that will benefit us greatly.
'We need to stick together'
bundesliga.com: On Sunday, Hertha travel to table-toppers Borussia Dortmund. You’ve pulled off a few surprises there in recent years. How can Hertha prevail in Dortmund?
Stocker: We have to play to our own strengths and stick together as a team. We need to follow the tactical plan as a team and show unbelievable commitment and desire when we win the ball. We need to take advantage of any chance that Dortmund might give us because one thing’s for certain: If Dortmund hit top form then it’s going to be very difficult for us anyway.
bundesliga.com: It’s the international break after the match in Dortmund with European Championship qualifiers. How do rate Switzerland’s chances?
Stocker: I think it’ll be difficult against England as they have already pulled away at the top. But we are focussed on second place. The match against Slovenia will be decisive. We’re playing at home in Basel and if we win then we’ll be as good as qualified. We’d be six points clear of third place with two games to go, although anything can happen in football.