Dortmund – After the comfortable 5-0 win over Wolfsberger AC, which secured qualification for the play-off round of the UEFA Europa League, Borussia Dortmund captain Mats Hummels looked a satisfied man.
He met with reporters after the match to pay tribute to Henrikh Mkhitaryan and the fans, who established a new record. The German defender also looked ahead to the first round of the DFB Cup, when his side will need to be equally focused against Chemnitz.
Question: Mats Hummels, BVB have made it into the next round with a comfortable win. How would you rate this victory?
Mats Hummels: Our aim was to get through, no matter what result we got. All that mattered was making the play-offs. We knew beforehand that only we could stand in our way of qualifying and we avoided that, even though there was a lot we could have improved on in the first half. We gave the ball away too easily and that unsettled us a bit, but we did a fantastic job in the second half. Wolfsberg didn't get much of the ball in our half and they didn't manage a single shot on our goal in the end.
Question: What did Thomas Tuchel say to you during the interval?
Hummels: We shifted positions around a bit. In the first half, we were not so disciplined. We were a bit congested and couldn't create any room. We did that much better in the second half when we combined better and got round the back of them so many times. Then we were able to score some pretty nice goals too.
Question: The atmosphere in the stadium was pretty incredible with over 65,000 fans, which is also a record for a Europa League qualifier. Does that give you even more hunger for the new season?
Hummels: That's something that we've definitely got to raise our hats to. To play a qualifying game for a competition that, in truth, was never really our biggest aim to play in, but which we somehow only just managed to sneak into, in front of a sell-out crowd is truly amazing. The fans deserve a lot of credit, and it's certainly something we as players treasure.
Question: Henrikh Mkhitaryan was one of the outstanding players and not solely because of his hat-trick. Will a game like this do him good in order to deliver on his full potential regularly in the coming season?
Hummels: I've always been a big fan of Micki, since the day he arrived, both as a footballer and as a person. I was surprised that he received negative critiques after his first season in Dortmund. I think he was pretty decent – let's not forget we all had our problems last season. Of course we now have big hopes in him. He's a player who gives us a lot. He's got everything you need to perform at a really high level.
Question: The coach stressed that he can take something positive from the fact you had your first competitive matches so soon, because these are things that you can't so easily simulate in training or friendly matches. Do you share that view?
'I think playing these kind of games so early will only benefit us'
Hummels: I love it! I'd rather be playing games where the stakes are high and where you cannot afford to make mistakes, and where there's a great atmosphere. You get the feeling that it's really serious business and I think playing these kind of games so early will only benefit us. We had the chance to show that we're a step further than we were a week ago.
Question: On Sunday, you head to Chemnitz for the first round of the DFB Cup. What sort of a game are you expecting there?
Hummels: We're going to face a deep-lying defence who are going to throw themselves into everything, but that's also a game we've got to dominate with our possession. We mustn't let our opponents get the feeling or hope that they can get something. On the other hand, Chemnitz most certainly have the quality to cause us harm. We've got to be clinical and focused. If we get that right, then we're going to avoid a cup upset.
Dietmar Nolte reporting from Dortmund / Translation by Ben Gladwell