Claudio Pizarro is a record-holder, having made the DFB-Pokal final eight times. In order to get there again this year, he needs to beat current table-toppers Borussia Dortmund with Werder Bremen. The two sides meet on Tuesday (20:45 CET) in the round-of-16.
DFB.de: Mr Pizarro, is an away tie to Borussia Dortmund the most difficult draw that Werder could have expected?
Claudio Pizarro: Yes, I think so. Dortmund are playing the best football in the Bundesliga at the moment. They’re scoring a lot of goals, are very strong up front and they’re also playing us at home. But we play good football too, and we could cause an upset.
DFB.de: Do you think that Dortmund will now be able to challenge your former club Bayern permanently in the Bundesliga?
Pizarro: Their football is very energetic. They’re playing good football at the moment. It’s possible that it could carry on. The key will be whether they can cope with the pressure. If they do that, they’ll be the champions this year and can permanently be in competition with Bayern.
DFB.de: You’re the record-holder for most appearances in the DFB-Pokal final. You’ve reached the final eight times and played seven times. Which was your favourite?
Pizarro: That’s difficult to say. But if I have to answer, I’ve been in the final with Werder Bremen three times. We lost twice and won once, against Bayer Leverkusen in 2009. That was really special for me and the team, so I’d say this final.
DFB.de: You’ve played in the Champions League final and UEFA Cup final with Werder Bremen. Do you think it’s possible that Werder could rise to those heights once again?
Pizarro: That’s the idea. Our goal is to play in an international competition again. We maybe had more quality in the team in the past. We got used to playing in the Champions League. It’s been different recently. For the past two or three years, it’s been about staying up in the league. We can’t change that overnight. The club had problems because a lot of the players weren’t good enough, but we’re on the right track now. The quality of players has got better. We’ve got the opportunity to get back to where the team was before.
DFB.de: Why is Florian Kohfeldt the right coach to turn Werder back into a top team?
Pizarro: Because he was here during the difficult times and knows what to correct. He’s put together a good team. We were third in the table at the start of the season, and with good reason. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep this up. But the coach is doing a very good job.
DFB.de: Does Kohfeldt’s philosophy remind you of Werder in previous years?
Pizarro: Yes, our team plays very offensively, but still works defensively. You can’t go all out attack in every game. Against teams like Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund you have to sit back a bit and try to hit them on the counter. The good thing is that we’re in the position of being able to play different systems. That makes us strong.
DFB.de: One of your Werder teammates, Maxi Eggestein, scored a wonderful goal against Eintracht Frankfurt last weekend. What makes him stand out?
Pizarro: You could see the potential with him right from the start. He’s a strong runner, an intelligent player, understands tactics and can shoot well with either foot. He’s already a complete footballer and he’s developed well. He can become an even better player in the next few years.
DFB.de: Footballers always want to start. You play in most of Werder’s games, but you mostly come on as a substitute. Are you taking that better than before, now that you’re 40?
Pizarro: No, I always want to start. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be playing football anymore. I’m waiting for my chance and I’m fit.
DFB.de: Just as fit as before?
Pizarro: It takes a little longer to recover, but I’m fit.
DFB.de: You’ve had a lot of great managers like Ottmar Hitzfeld, Pep Guardiola, Thomas Schaaf, Jose Mourinho and Jupp Heynckes. Who influenced you the most?
Pizarro: Every manager has their own style. Pep Guardiola was definitely one of the best though. I learned a lot from him, because he’s so disciplined tactically. His motto was: The best way to defend is to have the ball yourself.
DFB.de: Jose Mourinho is just as famous, but left Manchester United recently. You played under him at Chelsea. What memories do you have of The Special One?
Pizarro: At the time, he was the best manager in the world, he still is. What made him so strong was his good relationships with his players. He was good at giving them confidence.
DFB.de: You’ve been back to Werder four times since your first spell with the club from 1999 to 2001. What keeps you going back?
Pizarro: Everything. I was welcomed really well when I left Peru to come here. All the people here are so nice. I fell in love with the team straight away. We’ve been through a lot together. I feel at home here.
DFB.de: What are the chances that you’ll still be playing for Bremen next year?
Pizarro: I don’t know yet. I’ll have to see how I feel physically at the end of the season and what’s happening with the team.
DFB.de: You’ve already ruled out management after your career, but you haven’t ruled out some role in coaching. Would you like to follow in the footsteps of Tim Borowski and do an internal training programme at Werder?
Pizarro: I’ve always said that I want to stay connected to football. That’s what I do and what I have the most experience with. I’ll have to think about what I want to do after my career.###more###