Koen Casteels, one of the best goalkeepers the Bundesliga has to offer, will make his 150th league appearance for VfL at home to Union Berlin this weekend. Here, the Belgian talks about the Wolves’ Champions League ambitions, his own development and Saturday’s opponents from the capital.
Koen Casteels, you’re guaranteed a place in the Europa League group stage but could still qualify for the Champions League. How much are you looking forward to the final three games of the season and a potential place in Europe’s premier club competition?
Koen Casteels: “I think we’re all really fired up for it. The Champions League is something you don’t get to experience every day. It’s good that we get to play our last three games fighting for that goal. We all know what a good chance we have. We also know we shouldn’t put too much pressure on ourselves, but rather just keep doing what we’ve been doing all season.”
‘kicker’ magazine regards you as one of the three best goalkeepers this season, and recently described you as having “international quality”. How do you assess your personal development since you joined the Wolves?
Koen: “I think my personal development has been good and I’m very happy that I made the step of moving to Wolfsburg. When I arrived, I was obviously second-choice goalkeeper behind Diego Benaglio, but I was given my place in goal through hard work. Since then, I’ve tried to improve every year and take positive steps in my development. I think I’ve managed that really well. Since becoming the number one keeper I’ve been playing consistently and I’m very happy with the way things are going.”
How do you approach the game against Union to ensure you get another three points at the Volkswagen Arena, having lost your last two home games?
Koen: “Looking back at the previous meeting, we’ll definitely need to play with the same aggression and not shy away from tackles. I think we have a bit more quality, football-wise. If we can bring all that onto the pitch, we have a good chance of winning.”
How excited are you about the Euros with Belgium? How do you see your chances of being selected?
Koen: “The squad will be announced on 17 May. It was confirmed a few days ago that 26 players can be named in the squad for the Euros, rather than 23. As I’ve always been involved up to now, I assume things haven’t changed much. My chances at the tournament are clear: in the hierarchy of the national team I’m still third-choice goalkeeper. I’m looking forward to the Euros and will give everything I’ve got.”