This way to the UEFA Champions League group stage: Hoffenheim's Adam Szalai has a top-three finish in his sights. - © © gettyimages / Adam Pretty
This way to the UEFA Champions League group stage: Hoffenheim's Adam Szalai has a top-three finish in his sights. - © © gettyimages / Adam Pretty

Hoffenheim's Adam Szalai: "We don't need to hide in Dortmund"

Who will secure third place in the table? Hoffenheim or Borussia Dortmund? Saturday afternoon's showdown at the SIGNAL IDUNA PARK could go a long way to deciding that particular matter.

Ahead of the clash, Hoffenheim striker Adam Szalai spoke about the importance of the game, his own personal development in Sinsheim and his team's strengths.

Draft Adam Szalai in to your Official Fantasy Bundesliga team for Matchday 32 here! Adam Szalai, it's now about giving your all in the final three games of the season, especially in the next one against Borussia Dortmund. Your team has picked up some crucial points recently with late goals against Cologne and Eintracht Frankfurt. Has the "killer instinct" awoken in the squad?

Adam Szalai: I wouldn't say it's all or nothing just yet. We've put ourselves in a very good starting position and we have two games after the match against Dortmund, which are just as important. But this will be an interesting fixture. In my opinion, the pressure is more on Dortmund than us. We've had a very good season so far and met a few goals, but we want to get as many points as possible from the final games and achieve as much as possible.

Watch: Hoffenheim have hit historic heights in 2016/17: How great is the conviction and belief in your own strengths as a team that you can secure automatic UEFA Champions League qualification?

Szalai: We have developed a good sense of self-confidence this season. If you look at our games, then you can quickly recognise in our body language how we'll approach the coming games. We don't need to hide away in Dortmund. We want to push through our way of playing and implement the coach's plan. Has the team developed during the second half of the season so that you now win more games after the ten draws before the winter break?

Szalai: We have also improved so that we can now turn games in our favour in the closing stages, like we've done in the last two games with late goals. There's also an element of luck in that, but we had chances in the first half to take the lead against Frankfurt. The victory was no less than we deserved. You have now broken through at Hoffenheim at the second attempt. How happy are you with your performance this season?

Szalai: I'm pleased that the last few weeks have gone so well for me, but I can't be happy because being happy means playing every game and helping the team every weekend with my performances. I'm working on that every day.

Watch: Adam Szalai scored his third brace of the season on Matchday 29: What sort of feedback have you had from coach Julian Nagelsmann?

Szalai: The proof has been in the pudding as he's been picking me. I've had a lot of chances, which is positive feedback for me. You've scored seven goals this season and recently partnered Sandro Wagner up front against Borussia Mönchengladbach. How does your interplay with him work?

Szalai: The coach decides which formation to use against each opponent based on tactics. Whether Sandro plays up top and I'm behind him, we just try to implement the coach's ideas as well as possible. You have shown that you are always there when needed – you are one of the most effective strikers in the Bundesliga based on goals per minutes.

Szalai: I try to make my playing time as successful as possible, no matter how long. You have to take your chances, irrespective of whether you start or come off the bench. The squad was pretty full when I returned to Hoffenheim in the summer, so you have to take the smallest chance given to you to fight your way into the team. I've done that.

Watch: Hoffenheim's tactical wizardry: You now have the big game against Borussia Dortmund. They are just one point behind Hoffenheim right now. What will it all come down to in Dortmund?

Szalai: Dortmund have enormous quality in attack and defence. They have a lot of quick players and are not just strong at home. It will definitely be one of the toughest games of the season, but we have already shown several times this season how good we can play against the big teams like Bayern Munich. We're heading there well prepared and with great anticipation. Then it's down to us and how the game pans out.

Head to the Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim Match Centre for more match build-up!