Javier 'Chicharito' Hernandez knows that the stakes could hardly be higher for Bayer 04 Leverkusen against AS Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in UEFA Champions League Group E on Wednesday evening.
"We're focusing completely on the game against Roma at the moment. It's a crucial fixture," the Mexican superstar told bundesliga.com in an exclusive interview ahead of his side’s trip to the Eternal City. "We want to get a good result in Italy to be able to qualify from the group as quickly as possible."
With reigning champions FC Barcelona top of Group E and facing Belarusian outfit FC BATE Borisov at home, Leverkusen's clash in the Italian capital essentially amounts to a shoot-out for second place. "We need to pick up as many points as possible in each Champions League game and on Wednesday we've got a great opportunity to do that," continued the Guadalajara native.
'Want to get a positive result'
While he was reluctant to be drawn on Leverkusen's aims in Rome after the sides shared a 4-4 draw at the BayArena in mid-October, fast forward two weeks and the striker was crystal clear in his outlook: "We want to get a positive result, that’s the aim in Rome."
That high-scoring encounter on Matchday 3 was noteworthy for Hernandez’s contribution, the Mexican netting his first brace in Leverkusen colours. It was a performance which lit the touchpaper on Chicharito's burgeoning career at the BayArena: the former Manchester United FC striker has contributed six goals in Bayer's last four games, and eight in total already. Indeed, his displays also proved key in Roger Schmidt’s troops going the month of October unbeaten until succumbing to top-four rivals VfL Wolfsburg on the final day.
'All we're thinking about'
Hernandez's most recent strike, a superb flicked header, came in that game, although it was not enough to prevent a battling Leverkusen slip to a 2-1 defeat at the Volkswagen Arena. "It was tough to take because we were playing well and didn't deserve to lose," he said, before shrugging off the disappointment in characteristic fashion and switching his focus to the task at hand: Italian runners-up Roma. "We're training hard at the moment and that's all we're thinking about."
It is a focus which Hernandez hopes will reap rewards at the Stadio Olimpico, where Roma, who sit third in Serie A, are yet to be beaten in 2015/16. It would hardly be beyond Leverkusen to produce something remarkable once again this campaign, however, and with he and his side in such impressive form, who would blame Hernandez for being bullish?