Leon Goretzka tucked in this penalty to give Schalke the lead against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 8.
Leon Goretzka tucked in this penalty to give Schalke the lead against Hertha Berlin on Matchday 8.

Leon Goretzka brands last year a "blip" for ambitious, improving Schalke

He showed nerves of steel to take the penalty which unlocked the door to Schalke's 2-0 victory over Hertha Berlin, just days after his backheeled goal for Germany had tongues wagging all over the world.

With three goals in his last three Germany caps, everybody is talking about Schalke's top-scorer Leon Goretzka, who also chipped in on the debate with some words of his own...

Question: Congratulations on the win, Leon Goretzka, was that your first penalty for Schalke too? 

Leon Goretzka: I've put a few away in training (smiles). The goalkeeper got to it, but the good thing was that I put enough power in it, otherwise he might have saved it. It was such a relief when it went in. I've always said that I wanted to take on more responsibility and the best way is not just to talk about it without supporting it with actions, so that is why I took the ball and I'm pleased it went in.

Watch: Goretzka on his new-found penalty prowess

Question: You've been scoring quite regularly in recent weeks and months – is this a new string to your bow as you develop? 

Goretzka: Definitely. I think every player wants to develop and I was always quite a threat at youth level and in my first year as a professional with Bochum, but that ebbed away a bit in my first few years with Schalke. That's why I wanted to work on getting it back, and I've definitely succeeded in recent weeks.

Click here for the Hertha vs Schalke match centre!

Question: Schalke have now beaten one of their closest rivals in the league table and you didn't concede any major chances either. You're into the top third of the table, so what could there be to complain about?

Goretzka: I think we did a good job against Berlin and put our plan into action well. We had a lot of possession too, which is a far cry from what we've been criticised for in the past – for being just a counterattacking team. We want to dictate games ourselves and craft our own chances. We lacked a bit of incision inside the penalty area in the first half, but we talked about improving during the interval, and we did just that in the second half.

Goretzka earned 14 fantasy points on Matchday 7, and earned a place in the Fantasy Team of the Week! - © DFL DEUTSCHE FUSSBALL LIGA

Question: What did you make of Max Meyer's performance in an unusual defensive midfielder position?

Goretzka: I thought he looked pretty good and he was definitely an important feature of our game. It's a position I think he could play in in future. He really gave us a lot there. He's had to listen to a lot of criticism in recent months, but you've got to pay him a huge compliment after this game. Everybody could see that we'd altered our system a bit and, with Max, we have a player who knows how to play with the ball in tight areas. Before, when we played a 4-2-3-1, he was able to shine due to this quality as a support player. He had to play a bit more defensively here, but he has quality there too.

Question: Last season, Schalke were always playing catch up. Now, with two home games to come, there's finally the chance to consolidate your place back among the leading group of teams. Is that something you think about?

Goretzka: I've never been the type to look at the league table each week. Our aim is to get better and attain a certain level in every game and not have these blips like last year again. We've done pretty well with that so far this season.

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