Denis Zakaria has set Borussia Mönchengladbach the goal of winning their remaining four Bundesliga matches of the season and, with a bit of luck, qualifying for the UEFA Europa League.
The 21-year-old Switzerland international midfielder was on the receiving end of a heavy 5-1 defeat to Bayern Munich last time out, but insists the eighth-placed Foals can string together the winning run needed to rescue a top-six finish.
bundesliga.com: First of all, how do you explain the two completely different halves Borussia Mönchengladbach played in the 5-1 defeat against Bayern Munich last Saturday?
Denis Zakaria: We really put in a very encouraging first half hour, where we moved the ball well and played in a carefree manner. But after we deservedly took the lead, it got harder and harder. Bayern took control and became more dangerous. It was hard for us to counter that. It’s a shame because I felt that after such a strong start we could have taken something from the game. Losing by such a big margin really hurt a lot but we can learn from it.
Watch: Zakaria was a February Rookie of the Month nominee
bundesliga.com: What was it like out there? Could Bayern really not be stopped, even though they had already wrapped up the league title?
Zakaria: Bayern are a machine that’s hard to stop. They’re definitely one of the best clubs in the world, and it’s no coincidence they’re in the Champions League semi-finals every year.
bundesliga.com: What is Gladbach’s aim for the final four Bundesliga games?
Zakaria: We want to try to win our remaining matches, and then see where we are in the table. We definitely have the potential to do that – I have no doubt about that.
bundesliga.com: On Friday, Wolfsburg are the visitors to Borussia Park. How will you approach that game?
Zakaria: Clearly we have to win that match. First of all to show a good reaction after the heavy defeat in Munich, and also to keep up our slim chances of playing in European competition next season.
bundesliga.com: Do you think qualification for the UEFA Europa League is still possible?
Zakaria: We’ll do everything we can and if we actually do win our remaining matches, then we’ll see where we are in the table after Matchday 34. We know it’s going to be very difficult but I still believe we can do it. It’s not over yet.
bundesliga.com: How satisfied are you on a personal level with your first Bundesliga season?
Zakaria: When you’re getting to know a new country, culture and league, you always need a certain amount of time to adapt. That was the same for me, although I was able to find my feet quite quickly. And you learn a huge amount from playing top games like against Bayern. As a link between defence and attack, as a midfielder I have to always show myself and get forward as well. Overall, I’m satisfied with how it’s gone.