Big aims with Dortmund, and some big games with Germany; Mats Hummels' season is far from over. BVB are in still in the running for a treble of titles, and Germany will be looking to follow up their World Cup success with a European Championship trophy. In an interview with DFB.de's Steffen Lüdeke, Hummels discusses his ambitions, injuries, and the game against England in Berlin on Saturday (20:45 CET).
DFB.de: Mr. Hummels, Die Mannschaft received some bad news recently, namely the injury of Bastian Schweinsteiger. How much will this affect the team? Is there a lot of empathy in the squad?Mats
Hummels: Of course we feel very sorry for him. Every player who has experienced this kind of injury in the past knows how frustrating and demoralising it can be. Bastian will be gutted, as are we - he is our captain. I obviously hope that the injury isn’t too serious, and that it doesn’t have an impact on his EURO participation.
DFB.de: And you have faith in his ability to recover as quickly as possible? He is the kind of player that will do everything to get back on the pitch without any delay…
Hummels: That applies to all footballers really. You’re always frustrated on the first day but by the second day your focus is on doing everything you can to shorten the time spent on the sidelines.
DFB.de: Injuries have also hit the DFB defence, with regular centre halves Jerome Boateng and Benedikt Höwedes not in the squad. How important is it for you to be familiar with your central defensive partner?
Hummels: Generally speaking it’s very helpful to know the whole of your defence well, both in defensive midfield and in the back four. I have played with those two so many times that our understanding of each other's games won’t wane. We are all experienced players and know each other well. We have established a good style of play over the years, and I am not worried looking ahead to the EUROs. We will have plenty of time to prepare, and to get ourselves back on the right level.
DFB.de: You are enjoying a successful season with Borussia Dortmund, second place in the table, and still in both the DFB Cup and the Europa League. Last year you met up with the national team in the middle of a relegation battle with your club. Does club success have an impact on your experience with Germany?
Hummels: Not really, I have been part of the Germany set up for quite a while. I consider myself to be established in the squad. Of course there’s a difference though, last year Germany represented a sort of holiday from the crisis in Dortmund, whereas now us BVB players come here with a positive outlook.
DFB.de: Are you dreaming of winning a 'little' treble with BVB this season?
Hummels: That would mean us winning the Bundesliga, which certainly won’t be easy. We are playing at championship-winning level, but Bayern have had very few slip-ups this season. We suffered as a result of the ten days in September last year, where we lost seven points in three games. For that reason you have to admit winning a cup is a lot more likely than us clinching the league title.
DFB.de: You face Liverpool in the Europa League. Are you looking forward to the reunion with Klopp?
Hummels: I’m not thinking about that yet, Liverpool isn’t my focus. We have two international games, and a home match against Bremen beforehand. But of course, it’s a game with a special twist because of Jürgen Klopp.
DFB.de: You’ve got plenty of huge games coming up, against England, Italy, the derby, Liverpool, and a DFB Cup semi-final. How excited are you?
Hummels: These next weeks will be just as hard as the previous ones have been. And I hope that they are equally enjoyable, but we will need to get the right results.
DFB.de: Regardless of titles, how satisfying is it to be competing at the top once again with Borussia Dortmund?
Hummels: Last season was not only an exception, it was an extreme situation. A mixture of bad luck, a lack of confidence, and we would be lying if we said we didn’t think: 'we might be going down.' It was a bizarre situation, but we told ourselves that the following year we would be at least the second-best team in Germany once again. We knew what we were capable of, and that it was all in our hands. It’s positive that we turned it around so empathically, but we are not done yet, we have a lot still ahead.
DFB.de: You have said in the past that the World Cup triumph is not the highlight of your career, because the whole things still feels so surreal?
Hummels: It has become more real as time has gone on. To be honest, the emotions I had in Brazil were not more special than the ones I had after that first Bundesliga title in 2011. That was also something incredible, so unexpected. It’s impossible to say which title pleased me the most, but the World Cup was of course exceptional.
DFB.de: Do you think winning the EUROs would be different, or something you could come to terms with quicker?
Hummels: I can’t say at this stage. Winning league titles is something that sinks in almost immediately, and after a week you have processed the emotions. In terms of the World Cup, it took me over a year before I truly realised what I had achieved. It's difficult to say where the EUROs would fit in.
DFB.de: How has the triumph in Brazil affected you as a player? Has your confidence grown as a result, or has there truly been no change?
Hummels: I don’t think along those lines. We players are used to being judged on a weekly basis, and it’s been like that since I was six years old. You get used to having one game a week that you simply have to win, and for that reason success quickly fades into the past. I would say that also applies to the big triumph in Brazil two years ago.
DFB.de: Is that not a bit of a shame?
Hummels: Yes. It would certainly be nice to be able to enjoy the whole thing a bit more. However, this is part and parcel of the game, and I was focused on physical recovery following the World Cup. After that, it was all about preparing myself for the next challenge.
DFB.de: The international year begins with two classic encounters against England and Italy. You won’t have such good memories of the same fixture in November of 2013?
Hummels: That’s true. I was meant to be given a rest on that day, but wanted to play at least a half. It was always a dream of mine to play against England at Wembley. But I injured myself and was out for the following three months. I learned my lesson.
DFB.de: In what sense?
Hummels: I listen to my body a lot more nowadays. If my body warns me, then I pay attention. Ultimately I am looking to play as much as possible, but I learned to be a bit cleverer with my body after the injury against England. This is very important.
DFB.de: Now you face England again. How do you rate them as a team?
Hummels: In my opinion they are one of the top teams, and among the five or six teams that will challenge for the trophy next summer. They have a lot of good, young players and have managed to build a very strong squad - both defensively and offensively. They have proved that both in World Cup and EURO qualification - it will be a good test for us.
DFB.de: How important are these games? Is it important to get off to a good start with the national side?
Hummels: It is important, especially in terms of building confidence. Although you have to say, the EUROs are not won in early spring. We want to put in a good performance, and give the fans something to enjoy.