Werder Bremen are through to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal for the 22nd time, after a 2-0 victory against Schalke 04. In an interview with DFB.de, Bremen’s 31-year-old captain Max Kruse talks about his team’s fighting spirit and what they are hoping to achieve.
DFB.de: Congratulations on moving on to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal. How difficult did Schalke make things for you?
Max Kruse: It was a difficult task, like we expected it to be. It was clear to us that they wouldn’t overpower us, just like we knew that we wouldn’t be able to do the same to them. It was a quarterfinal match in the DFB-Pokal—Schalke was trying to do what they could to turn their season around a bit. That’s what we were up against. It’s possible that not everything will go exactly how you would like it to and that not every play will be amazing. But we were ready for the challenge and didn’t allow Schalke many chances on goal. For us it was important to not allow any goals against, and we were able to score when needed.
DFB.de: It appeared as though Werder were playing a bit cautiously sometimes. But, despite Schalke starting the second half strong, Bremen took the lead first.
Kruse: It wasn’t our goal to bide our time, since we wanted to put pressure on them right from the start. But, sometimes there are those matches where you have to keep fighting. It took us a bit to find our shape in the first half, but then we were able to score at the right moment. Just before we took the lead, Schalke hit the post. If that ball had gone in, it might have been a different story. We just have a little bit of luck on our side at the moment. But it has to be said that things are going pretty well for us right now.
DFB.de: The fans are already singing “We’re on our way to Berlin, via Hamburg.”
Kruse: It’s a nice thing for the fans to look forward to. What would be ideal would be to have a North derby in the final. We wouldn’t mind that either. But we’re prepared to face whoever comes our way. We already played in Dortmund, in Schalke, and like any other club, would like to play the semi-final at home. No matter who we’re facing we are ready for the challenge and will give it our all to advance into the final and to make our dream come true.
DFB.de: Is winning the DFB-Pokal the ultimate goal for Werder now?
Kruse: If your goal isn’t to take home the trophy, then you shouldn’t be playing in the DFB-Pokal. We are a good team; we’ve shown that many times now. I don’t think there’s any team that wants to go up against us in the semi-finals.
DFB.de: How important is winning the DFB-Pokal for you personally?
Kruse: It’s a big deal, especially since I haven’t won a title yet. I also have yet to experience what it’s like to take part in a DFB-Pokal final as a player. That dream is still alive for both me and my teammates. Now we’re just waiting to see who gets drawn against us. Then we’ll do our best to advance to the final in Berlin and to write a new page in Bremen’s history.
DFB.de: Next season, Bremen has the option to play internationally in both the Bundesliga and for the DFB-Pokal. Which one is easier?
Kruse: Neither. The best scenario would be if we advance to the final and have already locked up a spot in the Europa League. That would be ideal. Right now, we haven’t achieved anything, but in a few weeks that could all have changed.