Long-serving Wolfsburg left-back Marcel Schäfer and midfield anchorman Josuha Guilavogui discussed what made the German outsiders tick as they looked ahead to the UEFA Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid.
On facing Real Madrid …
Josuha Guilavogui: I played for Atlético Madrid so this is a derby for me. I was part of the Atlético squad that beat Real Madrid 1-0 with a goal from Diego Costa, so why not aim to repeat that kind of performance? Of course we will need to defend well because they have such a strong attack with Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, so we will need to defend really well and then play well on the counter.
Marcel Schäfer: Last season we worked our asses off to make it into the Champions League. Now we have made history for the club by reaching the quarter-finals, and we’re playing one of the world’s best teams. When you think that 20 or 25 years ago you were watching Real Madrid on TV, and now you’ve got the chance to play against them, it is a fantastic challenge. We know we only have a very small chance, but you go onto the pitch to be successful, and that’s what we want to do against Real as well. We have nothing to lose.
On how Wolfsburg have evolved into European contenders …
Schäfer: When I came to Wolfsburg in 2007, Felix Magath was coach, and changes were being made to establish the team in the Bundesliga. We finished fifth in our first year and then became German champions in the second. That was a sensational experience. We’ve experienced many highs and lows together, that’s how you really start identifying with a club.
Guilavogui: Qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Champions League has given us a lot of enthusiasm and motivation. In the Bundesliga it’s a bit more difficult for us – we’re eighth – and we’ll have to do really well to play in this competition next season. But once you’ve experienced the Champions League, you want to take part every year.
On coach Dieter Hecking …
Schäfer: Dieter Hecking has done a great job since he came here [in 2012], working closely with sporting director Klaus Allofs. They’ve put together a really great squad.
Guilavogui: It was the coach and Klaus Allofs who came to get me from Atlético. It was quite a difficult transfer to conclude, but they showed they really wanted me. I have a great relationship with the coach because I’ve developed as a player and that’s something he’s appreciated. I know what he expects from me – I have to win my tackles, win the ball and give a clean first pass. And now I speak German, it’s a lot better for me.
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