Jonas Hofmann has already experienced a DFB-Pokal final during his time with Borussia Dortmund. Now wearing the colours of Borussia Mönchengladbach, the 29-year-old will need a win in the second round against FC Bayern on Wednesday (kick 20:45 CEST). Hofmann spoke to DFB.de about tactics, the national team, and retirement plans.
DFB.de: Would you have liked to have avoided FC Bayern in the DFB-Pokal for a little longer?
Jonas Hofmann: FC Bayern is definitely the most difficult draw, but if you want to win the Pokal, you’re probably not going to be able to avoid Bayern because they’re often in it for a long time every season. But if we manage to knock them out in the second round, it will make the rest of the tournament a little bit easier for us. I’m really anticipating the game because it’s going to be a real cracker.
DFB.de: You have a decent record against Bayern: five wins, two draws and eight defeats. What is the key to success against them?
Hofmann: If you only play defensively and allow Bayern to play their game, it’s usually only a matter of time until they find the net. You might be able to go 90 minutes and keep a clean sheet, but on Wednesday there is the possibility of extra time, which gives them another 30 minutes. Therefore, we have to try to avoid letting ourselves sit too deep. We need possession of our own and can’t be nervous when we have it. We showed on the first game of the season that we can match them.
DFB.de: That game ended in a 1-1 draw, just three months after you lost 6-0 to them. How do you explain the difference in results when looking back?
Hofmann: Unfortunately there’s always a possibility of conceding five or six goals against Bayern – especially in Munich. Bayern showed recently in Leverkusen that they can make life extremely tough for their opposition even on the road. They simply have the quality to do it.
DFB.de: What influence can BORUSSIA-PARK have on the game?
Hofmann: It can play a big role. The fans are always able to push us forward and give us that extra couple of percent we need. There are definitely easier places to play away from home than at BORUSSIA-PARK, I think.
DFB.de: What game against FC Bayern do you look back on most fondly?
Hofmann: I like to look back at every win against Bayern, because it’s always that bit more special to win a game against a team like them. When you score a goal yourself, it’s even more enjoyable, but every win against FC Bayern is great. They are one of the best clubs in the world.
DFB.de: You met FC Bayern in the DFB-Pokal final back in 2014, when you played for Borussia Dortmund. Unfortunately, you lost 2-0 in extra time – what memories do you have from that game?
Hofmann: I remember the goal Mats Hummels scored pretty well, but it wasn’t given even though the ball was clearly over the line. There was no goal line technology back then – if there was, the goal would’ve stood for sure. I was substituted in extra time. It’s never a happy moment to lose a cup final.
DFB.de: Do Pokal games have a special appeal to you personally?
Hofmann: They feel different to a league game, because if you lose, you’re straight out of the competition. On the other hand, you only need six wins to become Pokal champions – it’s the quickest path to a trophy.
DFB.de: Gladbach found the start of the season a bit difficult, only winning one out of their opening five league games. What have you put that down to?
Hofmann: We had a relatively difficult set of games to start the season, but after the draw against Bayern the mood was good. Then, we completely messed up against Bayer Leverkusen (losing 4-0) and that brought us back down to earth in a big way. We haven’t really played the football we have aimed to, and conceded too many goals too often. That said, I think we’ve found our self confidence and a system which fits us well.
DFB.de: Let’s change the subject. You’ve been involved in all five of Hansi Flick’s games as Germany head coach. Before that, you won three caps under Joachim Löw. What changes have you noticed?
Hofmann: There’s been a breath of fresh air through the team. You always get that in football when a new coach comes in. Everyone has a new opportunity to prove themselves and gives it their all. The little details can make all the difference. In the last international break, we showed how good we can be. I can remember situations in some games, where we tried with all our might to get the ball away from the sidelines. Our fans got behind us then – you felt like something was changing.
DFB.de: You’ve been playing for the Germany national team as a right back. Do you feel as at home at full back as you do in the midfield or on the wing?
Hofmann: Yes, I’ve had a lot of fun playing there. Of course, it was against opponents who I was able to get forward against. Against other, bigger opponents, the defensive work will be a bit more important. I think I’ll be able to cope, though.
DFB.de: Qualification for the World Cup in Qatar is already secured, but there are two more qualifiers in November against Liechtenstein and Armenia. How do you see these tasks?
Hofmann: Even if we’re already qualified, we need to take these games seriously. We want to carry on where we left off, and keep developing both offensively and defensively, playing with joy along the way.
DFB.de: Qatar 2022 begins around this time next year. What do you think will make the World Cup a successful one for Germany?
Hofmann: Because we’ve already started to develop and we’ve got lots of potential in the team. A few of our players have already said that they want to be on top of the world again, and that’s our clear aim. You can sense that ambition in training and during games.
DFB.de: To finish, a more personal question. You come from a family that is known for handball. Your father played for TSV Rot in the 2. Bundesliga and your grandparents also played the sport. Why did you end up as a footballer instead?
Hofmann: It’s actually quite a funny story because I wanted to quit football. Back in the day, I played football, handball and golf all at the same time. When I was 12, my parents told me to choose just two sports because they couldn’t drive me 100km every day to play all three. That’s why I was planning to give up football.
DFB.de: Thankfully you didn’t though…
Hofmann: Yeah exactly. There was a regional talent tournament in my area of Baden. I took part and then wanted to quit football right after that. However, on the same evening, the youth coordinator at TSG Hoffenheim rang me up and said he wanted to sign me. Thankfully, I was aware of what a big chance it was for me and then stopped playing golf instead of football. I was actually a talented golfer too – I won the biggest youth tournament in Germany and had a handicap of 19 – but I think looking back, I made the right decision (laughs).