Dortmund - Having been on the Borussia Dortmund books for over ten years, Marcel Schmelzer is not the type to get carried away by the five-time Bundesliga champions' record-breaking start to the season.
In an exclusive interview with bundesliga.com, however, the 16-time Germany international left-back enthused about life under new coach Thomas Tuchel, discussed die Schwarz-Gelben's impressive opening, and previewed Sunday's mouthwatering clash at home to Bayer 04 Leverkusen.
bundesliga.com: Marcel Schmelzer, how would you assess Dortmund’s opening four wins in the Bundesliga?
Marcel Schmelzer: We've certainly started well, and four wins from four games is even more than we could have hoped for before the season kicked off. What's more, though, is that we've played convincingly in every game and so deserve to be where we are with maximum points. We have, however, had to work very hard to achieve what we have so far.
bundesliga.com: Have the team been surprised to be doing so well?
Schmelzer: It is a bit surprising that we've clicked so well so early in the season, but due to our involvement in the Europa League play-offs we were able to pick up some match practice before the Bundesliga started. We need to keep working hard though as the opposition are beginning to adapt to our style. Hertha and Hannover both played defensively and tried to hit us on the counter-attack. We need to improve on that and not allow opponents to hit us on the break.
'I enjoy playing with Miki'
bundesliga.com: It's amazing, though, to see a side pretty much unchanged from last season improve so much. It seems as if Thomas Tuchel has worked his magic on Henrikh Mkhitaryan (r.) and Matthias Ginter in particular…
Schmelzer: Miki [Mkhitaryan] and Matze [Ginter] were in great shape in pre-season and have maintained their form over the first few games which has given them even more confidence [...] It's great to see Miki do so well. He's been working really hard and he's self-critical. Personally, I enjoy playing with him on the left-hand side.
bundesliga.com: A lot of people see BVB as FC Bayern München's main competitors for the title...
Schmelzer: You shouldn't get carried away this early into a season. Last term we would have gone top on Matchday 4 if Ciro Immobile hadn't missed a penalty against Mainz and then things went against us after that. It shows how quickly things can change in football. We need to keep our feet on the ground and not look too far ahead.
bundesliga.com: You'll be 29 by the time your current contract runs out at the end of the 2016/17 campaign. Are you thinking that far ahead?
Schmelzer: Definitely not. I'm not even looking looking beyond the end of this season. After all, we're set for a very demanding year [not just in the Bundesliga], also in the Europa League. Unlike in 2010/11, when we were in a group with Sevilla and Paris Saint-Germain, we're now the favourites and we want to finish top. I'm also really looking forward to travelling to countries we haven't been to very much.
bundesliga.com: You're facing Bayer Leverkusen on Sunday evening. Would you say there's unfinished business after losing 2-0 to them on Matchday 1 last season?
Schmelzer: We have unfinished business, not just against Leverkusen but in general [after last season]. We're very motivated, not only because they beat us last season. We're on the right track at the moment, though: we're focussed, working hard and desperately want to succeed. We know it's difficult to maintain the high level we're playing at, however, and so we want to make sure we keep a comfortable cushion over our rivals and remain in the Champions League places for as long as possible.
Marcel Schmelzer was talking to Andreas Kötter.