- Leverkusen tenth in standings following slow start.
- Volland predicts improvement in fortunes.
- Former Hoffenheim favourite set to face his old club.
Yet to score for new club Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Germany international Kevin Volland is confident the goals will eventually come, even if he does not find the net against his former side TSG 1899 Hoffenheim this weekend.
After suffering their third reverse of the campaign on Matchday 7 - a 2-1 loss away to SV Werder Bremen - Die Werkself find themselves in tenth spot in the Bundesliga standings.
On Saturday, Roger Schmidt's side are hoping to find the result they require in order to kick-start their campaign. Speaking exclusively to bundesliga.com ahead of the encounter, the former Hoffenheim forward predicted a win for his new employers.
bundesliga.com: Kevin Volland, what will it mean to you to face your former club Hoffenhiem for the first time as a Leverkusen player?
Kevin Volland: This is obviously going to be a very special game for me, a game where I'll face my old colleagues. I had a great time in Hoffenheim and still maintain a very good relationship with many of the players and staff members. I keep in regular contact with Sebastian Rudy, Mark Uth and the guys from the physio department. They’re all great guys and I’m pleased that I'll be able to see them again. I think it’s the way it should be, that I still have good friends at the club after my four years there.
bundesliga.com: How do you assess this current Hoffenheim side, unbeaten as they are in the Bundesliga this season?
Volland: I remember when playing in Julian Nagelsmann’s team last season, you could sense the team stepping up a level. Hoffenheim subsequently added strength during the summer. Although they like to play on the front foot, they can operate within a variety of systems. I think that Hoffenheim are justifiably where they are right now because of the solid work they're putting in. It all adds up to being a very difficult game for us on Saturday.
bundesliga.com: Leverkusen are currently in tenth position in the standings; is that where they should justifiably be at the moment?
Volland: We endured a tricky start to the campaign while, in truth, in our last match away to Werder Bremen [a 2-1 defeat] we did not play well. But we have shown good signs, like [in the victory against] Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga or even just last Tuesday against Tottenham [Hotspur in the UEFA Champions League] where, unfortunately, we could only draw 0-0, a result that didn’t reflect our performance. We must regain some consistency in order to climb our way up the table. We need to demonstrate our quality in order to begin a winning run. Hard work and focus are what’s required.
bundesliga.com: You haven't yet managed to score for your new side. From the outside, this change of team for you appeared to many an ideal swap with the coaches of both clubs similar in terms of their approach to the game …
Volland: .... but there are differences, even if each coach plays just slightly differently. Also, in Leverkusen you have the weight of the Champions League added to the situation, which places a greater level of expectation on every player. In terms of preparation, things have gone well for me but there was that bumpy start I mentioned and I am perhaps not playing as I know I can. But my time will come, I am convinced of that.
"We must regain some consistency in order to climb our way up the table." Kevin Volland
bundesliga.com: You suffered a metacarpal fracture in early September which upset your rhythm. Is it possible to maintain a certain playing standard when you are not completely fit?
Volland: Whether in Hoffenheim or in Leverkusen, you need to be 100 per cent fit in order to reach peak performance. I've noticed over the years that, if you are not playing at full fitness, you miss that freshness and power in terms of speed. For the first couple of weeks after my fracture, things were extraordinary, I couldn’t balance properly, for example, while falling led to a lot of confusion in terms of weight distribution. That took a lot for me to get through but I'm glad it's behind me and I’m back on track.
bundesliga.com: Leverkusen's goal at the beginning of the season was to narrow the gap to last season's runners-up Dortmund. Why hasn't that happened?
Volland: We just haven't performed consistently and didn’t produce a showing like the one against Dortmund for two or three games in-a-row. The recent defeat in Bremen hurt us a lot because it was all down to us; we didn’t play well. The fact that there are many games left, however, means we can make up for the poor showings in the past. The bottom line is that we have to progress in the Champions League while we also have our chances to improve in the Bundesliga; the season is still young.
bundesliga.com: You were overlooked for the game against Tottenham following a poor showing against Bremen. How do you cope with the increased competition for places at Leverkusen?
Volland: Obviously the more competitions you're competing in, the bigger the squad you will need, otherwise it would be impossible to achieve goals. If you have a poor game, as I did against Bremen, then of course it's possible that you won't feature in the following match; that's normal.
bundesliga.com: At Hoffenheim, the attack was built around you while in Leverkusen, Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez is the focal point. How has that changed things as far as you’re concerned?
Volland: In the box, Chicharito is an outstanding player, if you release him and he has a chance to score, then you can be 98% sure he will convert his opportunity. As a striker, you should also sometimes look to take the opportunity to shoot yourself. The movements and coordination of your team-mates are also things you need to learn for everything to run smoothly. I'm sure it's just a matter of time until this is the case.
bundesliga.com: How important was it for your confidence to once again be called up by Germany recently?
Volland: It's a nice feeling that Joachim Löw continues to call me up and shows his confidence in me. Just to be involved with the national team is a great honour for me.
bundesliga.com: What is your prediction for Saturday’s game?
Volland: Hmmm, I'll go for 3-1 to Leverkusen.
bundesliga.com: … and will Kevin Volland score his first goal?
Volland: That'd be great, and good for my confidence, but it's not the most important thing. For me what's more important is that I have a good game for my team. I've learned over the years that the goals eventually come. You can't lose your patience.
Interview by Tobias Schächter