Before the Champions League returns, our No. 1 is here with us. Pete, we've gotten off to a good start this season, what makes this team so good and where can we still improve?
Of course there's always room to improve. In terms of our game, I think we can improve on our performances from the end of last season. We've gotten more precise when we have possession and our counter-press has greatly improved. That's what distinguishes us. That's what our football is about: pressing, counter-pressing when we lose the ball, winning the ball back quickly, and we've got much better at that in the last few weeks and that also helps our game in possession. And it's always key how we play without the ball. That's been very strong in the last few weeks.
Have you noticed the team changing at all with a few departures and new arrivals?
The new players obviously need a bit of time. We haven't had much training and they've had even less. So it's not easy, but we'll try to work with videos and then we'll use the time we have on the pitch too.
The players who joined last year, in both summer and winter, probably understand our football better now. We've got a really strong side. We're well equipped if you take a look at our squad. We're ready for the tricky period ahead of us. We're all hungry to succeed. You saw last season what we can achieve. Our goal is clear: we want to stay in the knockout competitions for as long as possible and do at least as well in the Bundesliga as we did last year.
As you said, everything is happening quickly: you played a Champions League semi-final two months ago. Normally there's a bigger break but the group stage is starting again already. Is it an advantage that you're in better rhythm?
How do you see the fact that the summer break was more or less taken away this year?
Yeah, it's obviously not ideal but we've often said that nothing's ideal at the moment, not just in football, but in the whole world. We have to accept it how it is, and I think we've done that well. We've had a long enough break to rest. We recharged in August and now we're hungry and ready for the new season and the challenge ahead of us. The Champions League is really special. You battle hard in the Bundesliga all year to get top four, so the Champions League is a highlight for every player when that's there.
We want to do the best we can again this season. Our group looks stronger than last year when you look at the names, but you saw that our group last season produced two semi-finalists. You just never know until it starts.
You say that Group H is quite difficult with bigger names than last year, but it's not impossible. How do you rate our chances?
Yeah, after last season we shouldn't shy away from it. Obviously as far as names, budgets and so on are concerned, there are two teams ahead of us in the group. But when you talk about footballing quality and what a team is about, I don't think we're outsiders. We've got a great chance of getting out of the group if we are at our best, and that's key. We've got six games, and if we're at our best on the pitch we'll be in the top two.
You can imagine the squad's reaction to the draw - not PSG again! How was the boys' reaction?
I don't think it'll be too bad playing against PSG. We were all disappointed after the semi-final, not because we lost, but because we didn't play well. Therefore we were all upset because we didn't produce a good performance on the day. Yeah, you could talk about what-ifs, but now we can show that we're much better than we showed in the semi-final.
So we have the added motivation of wanting to beat PSG, to get revenge. It obviously won't be easy, they have real quality. But we can do a lot better, and we can make life more difficult for PSG - that's our goal. Of course, we want to pick up points against United too. Başakşehir are also a tough opponent, they have lots of experienced players with great quality when you look at their squad. We need to be wary of that.
That's a good point. We start against the team from Istanbul, and it'll be hard as we don't know the team that well. It's the first time they're in the Champions League. They have lots of experienced players, but also some players we don't know as well. Does that make it especially difficult, playing against a less well-known team?
Yes on the one hand, but on the other hand, we need to focus on ourselves. We can still analyse our opponent, we've seen enough of their games. That gives you a first impression, an initial feeling. The really important thing is how we play on the day. We've done that well so far this season, we need to play with aggression, energy and confidence. If we do that, I'm confident we'll have a good chance of getting three points.
Obviously there are six games in the group stage and several chances to pick up points, but the first game is particularly important, right?
Yes of course, there aren't many chances to recover if we slip up. We need to make sure that we're at our best from the first game. When you look at the group fixtures, yes, it's a game you want to get 3 points from if you want to progress. And away from home, like at United or PSG, we'll have difficult games where we aren't the favourites. But we'll do our best to spring a surprise. We want to win our games at home, which is why it's important to start with a win.
It's going to be a difficult but equally exciting group in the Champions League.
Thank you Péter.
We're looking forward to the start and wish you all the best.