FC Schalke 04 reached the last 16 of the DFB Pokal after a thrilling game, in which the Royal Blues beat second-division side 1. FC Köln 6-5 on penalties. Sebastian Rudy not only impressed in the penalty shoot-out but also in midfield for last season’s runners-up. The national team player was a marquee signing for Schalke after joining them from Bayern München in the summer. However, he has made a mixed start to life in Gelsenkirchen after not making an appearance in the first four games of the season. The 28-year-old speaks to DFB.de about reaching the last 16 and the difficult start to the season.
DFB.de: Sebastian Rudy, FC Schalke 04 are in the last 16 of the DFB Pokal. How happy are you with your team’s performance against 1. FC Köln?
Sebastian Rudy: It is always great to advance in the DFB Pokal. We did that and therefore I am delighted.
DFB.de: How tough was the game against the second-division side?
Rudy: You could see it yourself. Köln made it hard for us and are a good side. It looked as though we were going to lose the game but we took it to extra time. We came back into the game well and got a deserved equaliser.
DFB.de: You got the impression that it was going to be difficult for Schalke to get a goal. Did you start to lose hope that you would find an equaliser in 90 minutes?
Rudy: No. As I said, it was not going to be an easy game and when the score is only 1-0, you always believe you have a chance. Anything can happen, whether it is in the 90th or 94th minute. You are never allowed to give up.
DFB.de: How do you sum up your performance on the whole, especially after not making an appearance in Schalke’s last game?
Rudy: The 120 minutes went well. I think I held the midfield down well and made some good tackles to help my team. I put in a good shift.
DFB.de: Do you feel more integrated into the team after that game?
Rudy: I definitely feel part of the team. You have to keep working every day to force yourself into the team. It is a long process and I need to take it day by day. I am used to my surroundings now and feel settled here.
DFB.de: What aspects do you have to work on at the moment? Your fitness or trying to gel with new teammates?
Rudy: I feel in great shape at the moment, I had to work on it a lot at the beginning but I don’t have any issues anymore. Schalke have different tactics to Bayern and have a different style of playing and it takes a while to get used to it. But as I have said, it is an ongoing process, you need to keep working in training and listen to what the manager is telling you.
DFB.de: Do you believe you can replicate the cup form in the league?
Rudy: We definitely hope so, starting on Saturday against Hannover.
DFB.de: You took the second to last penalty. Did you put yourself forward to take it?
Rudy: I was surprised that so many people volunteered to take a penalty. I put myself forward to take one and they gave me the sixth one.
DFB.de: What were you thinking when Timo Horn saved the first spot kick?
Rudy: I wasn’t worried. You just concentrate on the next penalty.
DFB.de: What makes the DFB Pokal special for you?
Rudy: The cup is brilliant, especially because of the knockout format. It is always special for us footballers. You want to get as far as possible. Every game is a fight and you need to put everything in to get the win. We did that today and come away as winners.
DFB.de: Schalke reached the semi final last season but narrowly lost to Eintracht Frankfurt. The Royal Blues have a score to settle this campaign.
Rudy: We need to see who our next opponents are first. Anything can happen in cup competitions, but on the same note, you can never write us off.
DFB.de: What has been your best moment in the DFB Pokal so far in your career?
Rudy: It is hard to say. I reached the final last season with FC Bayern. When I think about it, today’s game was not so bad. I really enjoyed it especially as we managed to get the win.