MARCEL SCHMELZER “We t o l d o u r s e l v e s o v e r t h e s u mmer t h a t we woul d n ’ t letanythinglikelast seasonhappenagain”
fifififirst Have you been to Dubai before? Yes, two or three years ago a large group of players came here on holidays. I think we were four or five couples plus [former BVB midfielder] Kevin Grosskreutz.
What’s it like working here instead of holidaying during the winter break? The training complex is a dream. That’s why we came here. It’s a long journey, compared to Europe, but we gladly accepted that because the training conditions are so good.
A year ago, the mood was very different... Yes, but we knew that the winter break was a great chance to turn things around. It gives you time to clear your head and start all over again for the second half of the season.
But wasn’t the pressure enormous last winter after your poor start to the season? During the camp itself, the pressure was almost gone because there weren’t any competitive games. That’s the good thing: you can totally focus on the training sessions. The pressure returns when league football begins again at the end of January.
How is it possible that you can follow such a dreadful season with such a fantastic first half of the 2015-16 campaign? It’s not easy to explain such things. Apart from the obvious changes – a new coach and a few new players – maybe it’s because we had been through such a difficult season and told ourselves in the summer that we would not let anything like this happen again. We also had a headstart because of the Europa League qualifers. When the Bundesliga season began, we were ready and raring to go.
You epitomise the turnaround, because you are probably enjoying one of your best seasons ever at left-back. Has the team’s new style also helped your personal game? Maybe it has, yes. In our new system, the full-backs are positioned further upfield. At the start of the season, it was even higher, but it turned out the team became vulnerable to counter-attacks, so now the full-backs play a bit deeper. But it’s still further upfield than it used to be, which of course means that both full-backs are now more regularly involved in the attacks.