Wolfsburg - VfL Wolfsburg midfielder Julian Draxler is quietly confident of a place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League, after the Wolves moved top of Group B with a 2-0 home win over PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 3.
Speaking to journalists after the game, the 22-year-old discussed Wolfsburg’s European expectations, the return clash in Eindhoven and the busy domestic schedule in the weeks ahead...
Question: Julian Draxler, congratulations on the 2-0 win against PSV Eindhoven. What did you make of the game?
Julian Draxler: We found it hard in the first half. We upped the ante in the second half. We had more of the play and deserved to win.
Question: In such a tight group, a 2-0 win is the closest thing to a thrashing. It could turn out to be really important…
Draxler: That’s right. That’s why I was so happy that Diego [Benaglio] saved a penalty late on. It could be really important in the direct head-to-head with Eindhoven.
Question: CSKA and Manchester United drew 1-1, meaning Wolfsburg now top Group B. Does that give you the upper hand in the battle to qualify for the knockout stage?
Draxler: With six points we’re in a good position at the halfway stage, but nothing’s decided yet. We have to do it all again away to Eindhoven in a fortnight’s time and ideally take at least a point from the game. If we win in Eindhoven, we’ll be in a great position. We have a clear objective: we want to qualify from the group.
Question: What do VfL expect in Eindhoven?
Draxler: They’ll definitely attack more, they’ll have to to win. That could play into our hands because it’ll give us space to counter.
Question: You’ve been at Wolfsburg for almost two months. How do you see your development?
Draxler: I know the strengths and weaknesses of my teammates a little better, and vice versa. Gradually you get to know the runs and internalise the movements. Of course it takes a bit of time to digest the new system, or rather the systems seeing how the coach changes things up depending on the opponent. It’s an ongoing process, but we’re on the right track.
Question: That shows in the results. You’ve won your last two. Are VfL back on course after a rough patch?
Draxler: I wouldn’t call it a rough patch, but it’s right we have dropped points recently.
Question: On Saturday VfL travel to promoted Darmstadt 98. What sort of game do you expect?
Draxler: Darmstadt have been a real surprise so far. They’ve taken points off some notable teams. It won’t be easy, but we want to raise our game in the Bundesliga and finally pick up our first away win.
Question: After that you host Bayern in the DFB Cup and Leverkusen in the league. A testing period…
Draxler: Against Bayern it's a game like no other. We’ll try everything to win and defend our title. And then we want to beat Leverkusen. We know what we’re capable of at home and don’t want to lose touch with the top.
Question: How big of a strain is it playing so many midweek matches?
Draxler: I don’t see it as a big deal. Champions League games are the highlight for us as players. Bayern and Leverkusen also have the same workload.
Jürgen Blöhs reporting from Wolfsburg