Leverkusen’s Germany international Kai Havertz was named man of the match in Bayer Leverkusen’s hard-fought 2-1 victory at home against VfB Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal round of 16. The 20-year-old international delivered a strong performance and spoke after the final whistle about Leverkusen’s ambitions in the cup, his upturn in form as well as his friend Julian Brandt.
Question: Mr Havertz, you captained Leverkusen for the first time in the DFB-Pokal match against VfB Stuttgart and were also named man of the match. How did you like that?
Kai Havertz: It was a wonderful feeling for me personally to captain the team because I’ve been at the club a very long time. It was a bit like fulfilling a dream. It was incredible.
Q: Leverkusen are now into the quarterfinals. How difficult was the match against VfB Stuttgart?
Havertz: It was pretty tough. We knew that Stuttgart are a really strong Bundesliga 2 side and that it would be a difficult game. As a neutral, matches against second-tier sides might look easy – but they’re not. We’re happy to have progressed one round further; that’s what counts.
Q: After Bayern München, Leverkusen are now second-highest team in the Bundesliga table left in the competition. What more is possible for your team in the DFB-Pokal?
Havertz: Quite a lot. But we take it one game at a time. We’re now turning our attention to Saturday and the match against Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga. Then the DFB-Pokal draw takes place on Sunday. Then we will look forward. But the game against BVB is more important the the draw – we’re going to train hard for that over the next few days so we can deliver on the pitch.
Q: Leverkusen struggled in attack against Stuttgart, similarly to other games in the Rückrunde. Why has that been the case?
Havertz: We actually scored a lot of goals in the first two Bundesliga games, so we started the Rückrunde well in attack. Matches, such as this one against Stuttgart, in which you don‘t get 20 chances to score, are a part of the game. We left a little bit on the pitch today and didn’t play every opportunity perfectly. You made a good point that we haven’t played our best football in our last two games. We have to take a look in the mirror because our motto is to play good attacking football.
Q: How good does it feel to be on the pitch with your new teammate Exequiel Palacios?
Havertz: It’s great. I realised in the first training session that he’s a player that we’ve been missing up until now. He’s great to play alongside because he’s very aggressive. He’s a great footballer. That was a great transfer.
Q: How much does the DFB-Pokal mean to you?
Havertz: It means a lot. But we’re not just concentrating on the DFB-Pokal, we’re focusing on all the competitions. We know that the cup is a difficult competition – you can see that from the losses of Leipzig and Dortmund.
Q: With two more wins, Bayer Leverkusen will be in the final. Would it be a dream come true to play in the final in Berlin?
Havertz: That is definitely a dream of ours. But we have a lot of matches to play before that.
Q: The award for man of the match today also confirms your upturn in form in the Rückrunde. Will we see the 2018/19 season Kai Havertz again?
Havertz: I feel a bit better in general. But I also think that my performances in the first half of the season were criticised too harshly. In my opinion, not everything in football is about goals and assists; there’s more to it than that. I’m satisfied with how I’m playing. I played well today. Everything is good; I’m satisfied.
Q: You’ve spoken already about the Bundesliga highlight this weekend against Dortmund. What are you expecting from the match?
Havertz: Leverkusen vs BVB is always a big match, even if we haven’t looked so good in recent years, especially away from home. Now we’re playing at home. The DFB-Pokal win will give us some momentum while Dortmund will have the loss in Bremen on their minds. We need to recover and prepare ourselves well to be fit on Saturday.
Q: You’ll come up against Julian Brandt in the match, who is your good friend from previous times in Leverkusen and currently in the national team. How do you think he’s developed in Dortmund?
Havertz: Even though Jadon Sancho and Erling Haaland aren’t playing too bad, in my opinion Julian is the best player at BVB at the moment.
Recorded by DFB.de.