With 176 Bundesliga appearances for Bayer 04 Leverkusen, 1. FSV Mainz 05 and 1. FC Köln, Marcel Risse is 3. Liga side FC Viktoria Köln’s most experienced player. The 33-year-old, who was made the club’s captain at the start of the current season, spoke to DFB.de about his role in the team and the upcoming DFB-Pokal game against TSG Hoffenheim (Monday, 18:30 CEST).
DFB.de: Were you surprised to be named the new club captain following the departure of Mike Wunderlich, or did you even definitely expect it?
Marcel Risse: I certainly didn’t definitely expect it. I knew that the head coach Olas Janßen holds me in a close circle. But the fact that he asked me if I wanted to do it in the end took me by surprise a little.
DFB.de: Did you have to take your time thinking about it?
Risse: The coach had told me that I should take a few days to consider it, and that’s what I did. When I do something like this, it has to be full of conviction. But it wasn’t something that I needed to think about for a long time.
DFB.de: You’re not really known for being especially loud. Head coach Olaf Janßen called you a ‘role model’ and his ‘right hand’, and said that you’d have a great impact within the squad. How do you see your role as captain?
Risse: First of all, it’s just really nice when the head coach says something like that about you. The armband doesn’t really change much; I’d have still gone about things the same way. I know that I can help some of the young players because of my experience. I will definitely be able to give a lot of tips and chat with the others about similar situations that I’ve already experienced. Of course, I’m aware that this responsibility hasn’t got any smaller since becoming captain.
DFB.de: The start to the season hasn’t been great, with one point from the first two games. What do you make of it?
Risse: Of course, we’d have liked to have more points. However, you have to keep in mind that our squad wasn’t complete during pre-season; players were always joining. Therefore, differing levels of fitness definitely play a role and you couldn’t expect to take six points from the first two games. The increase in our performance levels for the 1-1 draw against FSV Zwickau, after the 2-1 loss to Viktoria Berlin in the opening game, is definitely a boost.
DFB.de: What do you think the team can do over the rest of the season?
Risse: I think we can do quite a bit. We’re a young team and we have clear tactical instructions from the coach. If we manage to carry those out fully on the pitch, I’d be quite optimistic looking ahead.
DFB.de: On Monday, you’ll face Bundesliga side TSG Hoffenheim in the DFB-Pokal. How much value do you place on the cup in comparison to the league?
Risse: It’s hard to compare the two. What’s clear is that we’re definitely not the favourite against Hoffenheim. However, I know what we’re capable of. I expect us to make it difficult for them.
DFB.de: For Leverkusen, Mainz and Köln, you have 176 Bundesliga games under your belt. How big is the difference to the 3. Liga?
Risse: The difference is definitely there. In terms of intensity, I’d say the two leagues are similar. Tactics play a role here and there, but the main difference is the quality of the final pass and finishing. In the Bundesliga, mistakes are punished much more quickly.
DFB.de: What do you make of your chances of an upset, in that sense?
Risse: We’ll do everything to try and pull off an upset. I’m definitely feeling positive going into the game.
DFB.de: You have faced Hoffenheim several times in the Bundesliga. Do you have any memories of the games?
Risse: I’ve played against Hoffenheim in the Pokal before: with Köln in the 2016/17 season, when we won 2-1 after extra time at the RheinEnergieStadion. I scored in that game from an indirect free kick from about 35 metres, so I have good memories.
DFB.de: In Kevin Vogt, you’ll come up against one of your former Köln teammates. Have you spoken in build up to the game?
Risse: With Kevin, nothing so far, but I’ve spoken to team manager Denis Lapaczinski. He messaged me straight after the draw.
DFB.de: What will it come down to, first of all?
Risse: We definitely can’t have any fear. On the day, we have a lot to win. We should see the game in the same way. If we bring our attitude and tactical game to the pitch, we can hurt Hoffenheim. And we have to believe in that.