Borussia Mönchengladbach will face VfB Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal round of 16 next Wednesday (20:45 CET). 23-year-old Germany international Florian Neuhaus spoke to DFB.de about the cup clash, scoring goals from distance and this summer’s European Championship.
DFB.de: Mr. Neuhaus, are you aware that this is the first time you’ve reached the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal in your career?
Florian Neuhaus: Yeah, I actually knew that. It had actually been mentioned in a couple of interviews after we won in the last round. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone as planned so far in the DFB-Pokal, which is why I’m pleased we’ve reached the round of 16 this time around. I hope that we can progress now against Stuttgart.
DFB.de: You faced VfB at the end of January in the Bundesliga, drawing 2-2. What did you make of the newly-promoted side?
Neuhaus: Stuttgart have a young and talented side with some good individual players. They have a great idea of how to play football, look to attack and play in an exciting way. The last meeting was a tough game in parts, so we know what to expect.
DFB.de: Gladbach have beaten FC Bayern, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga this season. What’s stopping the team challenging for the title?
Neuhaus: Last season we struggled in games against the top sides, so we wanted to improve on that this time. I think we’ve done that so far, however we’ve dropped too many points in the other games. There are several reasons for that. The next step for us is to kill games off early when we’re on top to guarantee we take all the points with us.
DFB.de: Let’s speak about your career. You initially became well-known after scoring from around 50 yards for 1860 Munich in the semi-finals of the U19s German Championship. It was the winning goal and was also named as Sportschau’s Goal of the Month. What kind of influence did that moment have on your career?
Neuhaus: I think it was really important for my career. I managed to break into the first team after that and signed my first professional contract at 1860 shortly after that. You could describe this goal as the moment I really kicked my career off.
DFB.de: You won Goal of the Month again in January 2020, this time scoring from 40 yards against Mainz with a stunning lob. Do you work on long-range goals in training?
Neuhaus: I don’t specifically train them, but I often work on volleys – the technique is the same. The goalkeepers were both way off their line for both goals. The most important thing was just noticing that and backing myself to score from there.
DFB.de: A number of 1860 academy players have gone on to play for Germany, including Kevin Volland, Julian Weigl, Lars & Sven Bender. What’s so special about their academy?
Neuhaus: 1860 is a good place to develop. They place great value on the technical side of the game. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you will have always a football there. You’re always having fun, so it’s a good mix. I always enjoyed going to training.
DFB.de: Were other clubs interested in you when you were young?
Neuhaus: I signed for 1860 fairly early on. I was only 10 when the club got in touch and invited me for a trial. I immediately agreed to join 1860, even though FC Bayern wanted me a few weeks later – I wasn’t interested though.
DFB.de: You joined Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2017, immediately going out on loan to Fortuna Düsseldorf, who were in Bundesliga 2, before winning promotion to the top flight that season. Looking back, was that the perfect start for you in professional football?
Neuhaus: With hindsight, it was the perfect step. I got a lot of game time straight away and I also had the full trust of the coach, Friedhelm Funkel. Winning promotion made it the perfect sporting year and I developed my personality during that time.
DFB.de: In the following season at Gladbach, you immediately became a permanent fixture in the side. What were your biggest challenges in your debut Bundesliga campaign?
Neuhaus: I think I was able to bring my form from Bundesliga 2 into the top flight at the start. I regularly spoke to Gladbach’s sporting director Max Eberl and coach Dieter Hecking during my time at Düsseldorf. I recognised the trust and confidence they had in me during these conversations. I just wanted to back that up when I was back at Gladbach. I was able to do that thanks to the goals I scored and assists I provided. Since I’ve been here, things have gone well for both me and the club.
DFB.de: How are you dealing with the constant speculation over your future in the media, with a number of big clubs linked with you?
Neuhaus: It’s not on my mind at all. I can deal with this all very easily. The only thing that matters is what happens on the pitch – everything else isn’t important.
DFB.de: Do you read what’s written about you?
Neuhaus: I’m aware of it, just like everyone else. I’m extremely interested in football and I read the major newspapers, so I do see it. But as I said, it’s not important for me.
DFB.de: Let’s change subject. You’ve won three caps so far for the national team. Do you feel like you’ve already settled right in?
Neuhaus: I would say so, yes. My aim is to remain involved. We have big, big goals. Obviously we will have to wait and see how our current development goes, but our main aim is the EUROs and we want to be successful there.
DFB.de: Germany have a really tough group with France, Portugal and Hungary. What are your thoughts on the draw?
Neuhaus: I think it’s a good thing that we’ve got top sides to face straight away. We want to test ourselves against the best and we want to put things right after that game against Spain. We want to play as well as we can against the best nations and show that Germany are always a force to be reckoned with.