Confederations Cup winner Lars Stindl targets Borussia Mönchengladbach improvement
Lars Stindl is hoping to continue his superb year so far - which has already included FIFA Confederations Cup victory with Germany - by helping Borussia Mönchengladbach challenge for silverware next season.
The Borussia captain's stock has gone through the roof in recent months - momentum which could make all the difference for Gladbach in the new campaign.
Watch: Gladbach's top 10 goals in 2016/17
In the end, Germany manager Joachim Löw had little choice in the matter. Stindl's form for Gladbach in the second half of the season was so good that he could no longer be overlooked at international level.
The Foals skipper chipped in with eight goals after the winter break in the Bundesliga alone as he flourished under Dieter Hecking and his team climbed to a comfortable ninth-place finish.
The 28-year-old attacker also struck twice in their run to the DFB Cup semi-finals and he plundered a hat-trick in a memorable comeback against Fiorentina in the last 32 of the UEFA Europa League. And when Stindl was finally called up to Germany's senior squad for the first time, he did not disappoint.
Having played in a friendly against Denmark and a World Cup qualifier against San Marino just before the Confederations Cup in Russia, Stindl netted three times at the tournament proper in June and July. The last of his goals was the only one scored in the final as the World Cup champions beat Chile 1-0 to win the competition for the first time in their history.
"Even being called up to the squad was quite special for me," Stindl told kicker this week. "Overall it went quite well. I was pleased that I could perform the way that I had hoped I would."
He appreciates that it is "not exactly normal" to receive a first call-up for Germany at his age but he was delighted to play his part. With Löw's side on course to get back to Russia next summer in a bid to defend their World Cup title, Stindl is now hungry for more.
"I tried to give a good account of myself and to show what made me stand out with Borussia," he said. "That's how I'll deal with it in the future as well. We'll see what happens in the end. I definitely want to take the momentum and the experience that I gained during my time with the national team into the season with Borussia."
After a job very well done for Germany, Stindl had an extended break ahead of the new club season. He has now been joined at Gladbach by fellow Confederations Cup winner Matthias Ginter – who left Borussia Dortmund over the summer – as well as other new signings Denis Zakaria, Vincenzo Grifo and Reece Oxford.
The former Karlsruher and Hannover player is hoping those new additions can help Hecking's team enjoy a successful campaign.
"There's a focus on the DFB Cup," Stindl told kicker. "Having been knocked out in the semi-final we want to get to that stage again – and maybe even go a little further. In the league there are a couple of teams who didn't fulfil their hopes and they are now going to attack again in order to reach the top six. It will be tight in the league. A lot of teams are at a similar level. But we're going to try and climb a place or two in the table."
Gladbach's Bundesliga season gets underway with a home game against Cologne on 20 August. A top priority for the visitors that day will be working out how to stop Germany's new star forward.
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