Lukas Klostermann came through the youth ranks at VfL Bochum and made his professional debut with the club. The Germany international now faces his old club with RB Leipzig in the DFB-Pokal round of 16 (18.30 CET kick-off). The 24-year-old defender speaks to DFB.de about his time at Bochum, RBL head coach Julian Nagelsmann and EURO 2020.
DFB.de: Lukas, is the DFB-Pokal match against VfL Bochum of any special importance to you?Lukas Klostermann: Yes, even though I have already played against Bochum with Leipzig in the 2. Bundesliga, it is still a special game for me.
DFB.de: Are you aware of your record against VfL Bochum?
Klostermann: I'm not, to be honest.
DFB.de: Three games, three wins...
Klostermann: Not bad, right?
DFB.de: You can say that again. Do you still follow your old club?
Klostermann: Yes, I always watch at least the highlights of their matches on TV. I am happy that they’re doing so well right now. The club belongs in the Bundesliga, really.
DFB.de: What makes them so strong?
Klostermann: They have a good balance in the team; they are really dangerous in attack but without leaving themselves completely open at the back. On top of that the team has a good mentality and is constantly playing at a high level.
DFB.de: What could make this match especially complicated? Bayern Munich were recently knocked out by a second division team, Holstein Kiel...
Klostermann: That’s a good example of how anything can happen in a one-off match. In Kiel, the weather conditions definitely played into the underdogs’ hands. Kiel had a really good day though, they played with courage. If it all comes together, even Bayern Munich are beatable. That shows that we have to approach the match against Bochum with full focus. In the end, we want to avoid being surprised ourselves.
DFB.de: The DFB-Pokal is known for being the shortest route to a trophy. In May 2019, you played in the final with RB Leipzig, losing 3-0 to Bayern in Berlin. Have RBL’s chances of lifting the club’s first trophy increased now that the title-holders are out?
Klostermann: Obviously Bayern going out eliminates a strong contender, but there are still plenty of good teams left in the competition. It is indeed the shortest path towards winning a trophy, but you're not allowed even one single slip-up. We want to reach the final again, but this time we want to go one better.
DFB.de: Let’s return to looking at your past with VfL Bochum. When you left to join Leipzig, you were just 18 years old and had played nine matches in the 2. Bundesliga. What were your reasons for making the switch?
Klostermann: I don’t want to keep rolling out the same old stories. Ralf Rangnick explained his vision for RB Leipzig to me. He convinced me and looking back it was absolutely the right decision for me. I have developed here as both a player and as a person. I’ve learned a lot in Leipzig and I’ve also had the unique opportunity to grow alongside this young club. When I think about how many of our players are still performing for us having played for RB back in the 2. Bundesliga, it’s something really unique.
DFB.de: How does life in Leipzig differ from your time in Bochum?
Klostermann: The biggest change for me was that I finished school in the same summer that I left Bochum for Leipzig. That meant that everything changed for me. In Bochum I was at school for around 30 hours each week and I would go straight to first-team training afterwards. And then there were the matches taking place at weekends! It was a really intense time. In Leipzig, the strain was eased because I had left school.
DFB.de: Are you still in contact with your former club?
Klostermann: I don’t think that there are any players left in the team from my time there. Back then we were fighting against relegation, to be honest, and the personnel has changed a lot since. A few players that I played with in Bochum have come on well. Andreas Luthe, Michael Esser and Danny Latza are good examples of that. So I still see a few old faces in the Bundesliga.
DFB.de: Julian Nagelsmann has now been in charge at RB Leipzig for 18 months. How has the team developed in that time?
Klostermann: I think that we have stuck to what we were always good at, gegenpressing and defending aggressively. At the same time, we have improved our work with the ball. We are now braver, more versatile and more determined. Julian Nagelsmann demands a lot of us tactically. That is tough but it makes us better as a team.
DFB.de: Nagelsmann is just 33 years old, so does that affect your relationship with him compared to working with other, older managers such as Ralf Rangnick or Ralph Hasenhüttl?
Klostermann: It’s a bit different, definitely. I would have to say that before, under Rangnick, there was a good balance between being comfortable and relaxed enough to really let your creativity flourish, whilst also being fully focused on the task at hand. It worked well and it’s something that continues to set this club apart from others.
DFB.de: You were unfortunate to miss the last two international games in November through injury, but before that you had made ten appearances for Germany. Do you still think your goal of making it to the European Championship in the summer is achievable?
Klostermann: Very much so. Euro 2020 is getting closer and closer with each week that goes by and the anticipation is building. I’m looking forward to it a lot! It is a massive shame though that the Euros will have to take place without fans.DFB.de: The 6-0 loss to Spain that you were unable to be involved in was a bit of a dampener to that anticipation though. How do you rate Germany’s chances in a group with France, Portugal and Hungary?
Klostermann: The group is a tough challenge, there’s no doubt about that. However, I think that it’s the kind of challenge that all international players should be relishing. I’m convinced that we can progress from the group. Even though there have been setbacks recently, we can come out of this stronger and show that we have what it takes.