Germany international Antonio Rüdiger can expect to be in Chelsea FC’s starting line-up in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final following his impressive display in their 1-0 Premier League win over Norwich on Tuesday. The Blues take on Manchester United at Wembley from 19:00 CEST. We spoke to the 27-year-old defender about the cup semi, his strengths and weaknesses, and his goals with Die Mannschaft.
DFB.de: Antonio, everyone in England is looking forward to Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final between Chelsea and Manchester United. Sadly, it will take place in an empty Wembley Stadium, although it is the place where Chelsea beat United in the cup final two years ago. What are your expectations for the game?
Antonio Rüdiger: I’m really looking forward to the game. United are in great form; they haven’t lost in 18 or 19 games now and they’ve beaten us twice in the league, so they will go into the game full of confidence. It will be a tough battle. A positive for us is that Olivier Giroud is scoring goals again. He has worked his way back into the team even though a lot of people had written him off already.
DFB.de: You’re very close to securing Champions League football for next season in the battle for the top four. How happy are you with Chelsea’s season and with yourself personally?
Rüdiger: We’re on a good path, but we still have two difficult matches against Liverpool and Wolves. The good thing is that it’s in our own hands. Not many people would have bet on us being third at this stage of the season. Unfortunately, we have dropped a few too many points, but all in all, we can be happy. The season didn’t start all that well for me personally with a few injuries and niggling problems. I’ve fought my way back into the team, but I’m not quite back to my old strength. I want and need to keep working hard.
DFB.de: You played 129 passes with a 92 percent pass accuracy in the vital 1-0 win over Norwich on Tuesday.
Rüdiger: I didn’t know that, although it did feel like I had a lot of the ball.
DFB.de: More so than usual?
Rüdiger: Not really. I had over 100 touches in practically every game in 2018/19.
DFB.de: Something that stands out is how often to come away with the ball cleanly when you go in for a tackle with the strikers. Would you agree with that?
Rüdiger: I would say so, but that’s all part of it. A lot of it is intuition or simply a feeling. You think about how you can solve the situation and fortunately I’m not the slowest of players, so I rarely have to go to ground and can stay on my feet to win the ball, but when I do slide in, I’m 100 percent confident that I will get the ball. It’s one of my strengths and has long been a big part of my game. I was a lot less controlled when I was younger – you want to prove yourself in every challenge. I’m more experienced now.
DFB.de: What goals have you set yourself with the Germany national team?
Rüdiger: The most important thing for me is simply to stay fit.
DFB.de: Can Germany win the EUROs in 2021?
Rüdiger: We have a lot of talented young players. It probably isn’t a bad thing for us that the tournament has been pushed back by a year. Niklas Süle and Leroy Sané should be available too. We’ll have to wait and see how this next year plays out. To be completely honest, I don’t consider us one of the big favourites – there are a few teams out ahead of us.###more###