RB Leipzig striker Yussuf Poulsen was effusive in his praise of Cologne midfielder Leonardo Bittencourt after hitting what proved to be the winner in the 2-1 victory at the RheinEnergieStadion on Sunday night.
bundesliga.com caught up with the Dane at full-time to get his thoughts on his first goal of the season, squad rotation at RBL, and what defending a certain Leipzig-born Brazilian-German meant for the Bulls…
Question: Yussuf Poulsen, you seemed ecstatic with your goal to make it 2-0. Was your first goal of the season a form of liberation?
Yussuf Poulsen: I was very glad to score after having had two big chances. I was delighted and wanted to slide on my knees, although it didn’t work too well! I got stuck and then just cheered to the heavens. It makes it all the better that the goal was enough to seal the win.
Question: It was a very open game with chances for both sides. What did you make of it? Did luck play a part?
Poulsen: If we look at the number of big chances, the win wasn’t comfortable. We, I, had to get that second goal! We had so many good chances that we had to take one of them. We had a lot of good combinations around their penalty area throughout the game. The game could have gone either way. We gave everything and it was enough to win.
Question: Were you surprised by how good Cologne looked in the first half-hour?
Poulsen: No. You have to praise them. Leonardo Bittencourt created a lot of problems for us. If he hadn’t been on the pitch, we probably would’ve kept a clean sheet. He played very well. We’ll definitely look at how to better defend a problem like this with video analysis next week.
Question: After a difficult start to the season Leipzig are now fourth on 13 points. What do you make of your progress heading into the international break?
Poulsen: We finished the first stretch with seven games in three weeks and we did well in this time. Our level has been satisfactory. Now we want to show that we’re entitled to be higher in the table.
Question: What can the team do better?
Poulsen: We must learn to conceded less goals. That was our great strength last year – we rarely conceded and often took the lead. We must defend better and with more heart. We're missing that a little.
Question: How hard was this first phase for the team? What lessons did you draw from it?
Poulsen: One lesson is that you have to pay more attention to your body. It’s a difficult thing to say but sometimes it’s better for the team to bring in a fresh player, even if you’ve had a good game the previous week and feel good. We've learned a lot in the past three weeks.
Watch: RB Leipzig's bolstered squad
Question: Does squad rotation affect the rhythm of the team?
Poulsen: No. But the situation is different. You have to get used to it. We have a few new players who have to fit into our system. We still need to gel compared to last year. But that's how it is when you have so many games. You can’t just start every game. If you want to be a top team, then players have to sometimes sit on the bench.
Question: You are back in the Denmark set up. How does that feel?
Poulsen: It's nice to be back with the national team. I hadn’t been there for a long time, because I was hurt in recent months. I look forward to being with the guys. There are now two important matches in World Cup qualifying [against Montenegro and Romania]. We want to book our ticket to the World Cup.
Tobias Gonscherowski reporting from Cologne