First Team

“We need to learn the right lessons”

Sporting director Marcel Schäfer reflects on the defeat to Lille and looks ahead to Saturday’s clash with VfB Stuttgart.

After being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League in midweek, the Wolves return to Bundesliga action on Saturday evening (kick-off 18:30 CET) when they welcome VfB Stuttgart to the Volkswagen Arena. The Wolves are hoping to bounce back from Wednesday’s defeat to Lille and put themselves in contention for a return to Europe next season with some strong performances in the league. In a short interview, VfL sporting director Marcel Schäfer reflects on the Green-and-Whites’ Champions League exit and looks ahead to their upcoming games.

Marcel, the Stuttgart game is just around the corner but the exit from the Champions League is still very raw. How do you stop the players from dwelling on that?

Marcel Schäfer: “Getting through the Champions League group stage was a big aim of ours. It’s very disappointing that we missed out on that, but our main task now is to put it behind us as quickly as possible and to look forward. We need to learn the right lessons quickly to regain our momentum in the Bundesliga.”

Things aren’t going too well at the moment. What has the team been lacking recently compared to five weeks ago, when they went on a very good run?

Schäfer: “A high level of intensity, particularly when we weren’t in possession, was what made us strong during that period. It was difficult to create chances against us because we were very compact and solid. That’s exactly what we have to get back to now, because one thing should be very clear: the way we’ve performed of late was not only not good enough to get through in the Champions League, it won’t bring us success in the Bundesliga either.”

What does it boil down to here? What has to improve against Stuttgart compared to the game against Lille?

Schäfer: “It’s always important to be aware of your own strengths. We’ve already seen this season what we can achieve if everyone fulfils their potential, but it’s also important to put things you talk about into practice out on the pitch. It’s no use just talking all the time, you have to go out and do it. And doing it is going to be key to turning things around.”

Our sole focus is on VfB Stuttgart and how we can get three points on Saturday.
Marcel Schäfer

Stuttgart aren’t exactly full of confidence either, having won only one of their last seven games. What do you make of VfL’s upcoming opponents at the moment?

Schäfer: “The fact that VfB are still winless away from home this season doesn’t matter at all. Stuttgart will definitely be looking to get something out of the match against us. I’m expecting to face a team who will be compact in defence and try to hurt us on the counter-attack. We have to be ready for that. Our own performance will be crucial though, and everyone here is aware that the team has to show a different side compared to the games in Mainz and against Lille.”

With three games to go before Christmas, a lot can change in the table. What’s your objective for the rest of the calendar year?

Schäfer: “The aim must be to focus on our next home game and nothing else. We’re in a period where making predictions about results and points won’t help us and we shouldn’t be thinking too far ahead. Our sole focus is on VfB Stuttgart and how we can get three points on Saturday.”



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