"You only need to win six games to become champions; this isn’t the case in any another competition."
Borussia Mönchengladbach player Jonas Hofmann will meet his ex-club Borussia Dortmund in the second round of the DFB Pokal on Wednesday. The 27-year-old midfielder speaks to DFB.de about Gladbach’s title chances, his time at Dortmund and Jürgen Klopp.
DFB.de: Mr Hoffman, would you have preferred to face an easier team than Borussia Dortmund in the second round?
Jonas Hofmann: We know that it’ll be a difficult game. However, in our 1-0 loss to them in the Bundesliga, it was clear that we could have won the game. A win, or at least a draw, wouldn’t have been undeserved. That’s a huge positive. In the DFB Pokal, sooner or later you are going to come up against a difficult side and we just have to make sure that we beat them.
DFB.de: The last time Borussia Mönchengladbach won a trophy was the DFB Pokal back in 1995. Is this competition your best chance of silverware this season?
Hofmann: Yes, definitely. You only need to win six games to become champions; this isn’t the case in any another competition. So it’s important to take it seriously.
DFB.de: You’ve played for Dortmund in the past, moving to BVB from TSG Hoffenheim when you were 19 years old. Why did you decide to join the Black-Yellows?
Hofmann: I actually really enjoyed my time at TSG Hoffenheim. I came from the area, spent almost my whole childhood there and started to be integrated into the first team set-up towards the end. However, I had an incline that I wasn’t going to be able to make the next step after my last season in the U19s. At Dortmund, it was a lot more positive. Schalke’s current coach David Wagner was coach of the second team at the time, and he had a very similar demeanour to Jürgen Klopp. Furthermore, Wagner had already coached me at Hoffenheim in the past.
DFB.de: You made your Bundesliga debut for Borussia Dortmund under Jürgen Klopp back in December 2012. What memories do you have of him?
Hofmann: When I was promoted to the first team Dortmund had just become champions for the second year running, and had also won the DFB Pokal. There was a lot of hype surrounding Jürgen Klopp. He was on course to become one of the best coaches in the world; which he has now achieved. For me, as a young guy, it was a big thing to be able to train with that team. Klopp is someone that likes to tell young players exactly what he expects from you.
DFB.de: And what did he expect from you?
Hofmann: That I needed to push myself a little bit further. When I was playing for Dortmund’s second team in the 2011/12 season, David Wagner came to me and said: “I’ve spoken with Kloppo. He’ll only be interested in promoting a player from the second team if they first get double digits in terms of goals and assists.”
DFB.de: So you knew what you had to do...
Hofmann: Exactly. I managed to achieve this in the regional leagues, and then Kloppo was interested in me. He let me train with the first team and introduced me into the set-up. Jürgen Klopp is the sort of coach that demands a lot from you, but also gives a lot back. He’s just a fantastic person and a fantastic coach; he’s great with the players and amazing at developing them. He brings everyone together with his positive energy, and makes them better. We saw that during his time at Dortmund and we’re seeing it now at Liverpool.
DFB.de: You were an important part of the team in the 2013/14 season for Borussia Dortmund; you had 26 Bundesliga appearances as well as eight appearances in the Champions League. However, you decided to move on loan to 1. FSV Mainz 05 during the season. Did you no longer see a future at Dortmund?
Hofmann: The reason was that Shinji Kagawa had returned to Dortmund. Klopp said to me. “We actually don’t want you to go, but you may start fewer games now.” The club asked me if I would like to go on loan or not. Klopp and I then looked at a number of clubs; and eventually Mainz came in for me. However, it was made clear that I would return to Dortmund at the end of the season. But, when I came back to the club in 2015, Jürgen Klopp was no longer there.
DFB.de: Before moving to Borussia Mönchengladbach in the 2015/16 winter break, you had initially played under Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund in the first half of the season. What do you remember from your time there?
Hofmann: It was actually going really well for me. Thomas Tuchel had already wanted to sign me for Mainz when I was on the fringes of the first team at Borussia Dortmund. I also knew that he’s the type of coach that appreciates my playing style. I started the first game of the season, in our Europa League qualifier. However, my performances in training in the run-up to the start of the Bundesliga season were not as Tuchel had imagined. As a result, I was dropped to the bench and never managed to make it as a regular starter. Sometimes I didn’t even make the squad. So the time had come to take the next step in my career and Gladbach was a great option. It took some time to properly implement myself here, but in the end it was the right decision.
DFB.de: Just like Dortmund, Borussia Mönchengladbach is a club with a history of tradition and success. However, in what ways do the two clubs differ?
Hofmann: Borussia Dortmund have gathered a lot of type due to their league trophies, cup victories and making it to the Champions League final in 2013, so they are seen as one of the biggest clubs in Europe. BVB is a bigger name than we are. However, as far as the fans and the support goes, I don’t see any real difference. Both clubs have fantastic stadiums with an amazing atmosphere and get lots of support from the fans.
DFB.de: Have you stayed in contact with Dortmund?
Hofmann: There aren’t that many players who are still there from when I was there. Off the top of my head, there’s Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Marcel Schmelzer, Mats Hummels, Roman Bürki, Julian Weigl and Lukasz Piszczek, and of course some of the staff members. I’m still in contact with some of them. After the last Bundesliga match I went to go see them in their dressing room.
DFB.de: Borussia Dortmund have set themselves the target of winning the title this season. What do you make of BVB at the moment?
Hofmann: Before the season started, everyone thought that Borussia Dortmund, along with Bayern Munich and perhaps RB Leipzig, would pull away from the rest. However, the league is very tight at the moment. Nevertheless, I do think that Dortmund have strengthened very well in the summer and they have a great coach in Lucien Favre. People always say good things about him here in Gladbach. Overall, Dortmund have a very good team but they haven’t quite shown that out on the pitch yet. However, there are several clubs at the moment who aren’t quite where they want to be; even Bayern. Therefore, anything is possible for Borussia Dortmund.