Nuri Sahin has set Borussia Dortmund the challenge of winning their five remaining games of the 2017/18 Bundesliga season, starting with Sunday's Revierderby against local rivals Schalke.
The Turkey midfielder made his first start since January in BVB's 3-0 win over Stuttgart - a morale-boosting performance he believes should serve as a benchmark for the business end of the campaign as the Black-Yellows chase a seventh successive season of UEFA Champions League football...
bundesliga.com: Nuri Sahin, what was the most important thing about the win?
Nuri Sahin: The three points, no doubt. And that I played (laughs). No, but seriously: it was important that we didn't go behind when they were on top, that we held firm and then played with the shackles off in the second half. Based on the second half, I think we deserved to win. Our direct rivals play each other, Schalke dropped points - that's why the win is especially important.
bundesliga.com: By the time RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen have played, BVB will have a five- or six-point cushion on sixth place. Does that give you a boost for the remainder of the season?
Sahin: Let's wait until the derby. I'm aiming higher. We'll go second, if we win the derby. Of course, it's also handy to pull away. We've still got to play Schalke and Leverkusen; Hoffenheim are also back in contention. The Stuttgart win was massive. When we look back on the last six games of the season, Stuttgart will be a key game for me.
bundesliga.com: You started a game for the first time in a good while - and put in a convincing shift. How did it go for you? How are you feeling now?
Sahin: I'm knackered, but my wife wants to go to a concert. It'd be nice just to sprawl out on the sofa with the kids and enjoy the evening, but I have my duties as a husband to fulfil (laughs). It was a really nice day for me. For two or three years now, it's been either good or bad. There hasn't been a happy medium, whether I'm playing or not. I didn't know I would be playing until just before the game. We made life difficult for ourselves in the first half, but played well in the second. I also think I played well and have made a strong case for the last five weeks of the season.
bundesliga.com: The opening goal turned the game on its head. Does that show how much of it is psychological for BVB at the moment?
Sahin: A game like last week in Munich, where we lost 6-0, is not that easy to shake off. It could have been even worse. It was difficult for the guys on the pitch in the first half in Munich. It was still evident against Stuttgart, but we played pretty well after going in front and fully deserved to win.
bundesliga.com: Is the objective to finish as runners-up?
Sahin: That'd be ideal! The main objective, of course, is to qualify for the Champions League. To do so by finishing second would be nice. If we manage it, we'll have leapfrogged Schalke and ended a very interesting season on a high.