Arnold: "We're capable of scoring at any time"
Maximilian Arnold has developed in a short space of time in Wolfsburg from a young talented player to a Germany international. The midfielder joined VfL Wolfsburg’s youth academy from Dynamo Dresden in 2009, played in the Bundesliga for the first time in 2011 and made his international debut in 2014. The 20-year-old is currently having a successful season with the Wolves. This is underlined by the fact that the team currently occupy second place in the table.
They now face 2. Bundesliga team RB Leipzig on Wednesday (19:00 CET, live on Sky) in the last 16 of the DFB Cup. In an exclusive interview with DFB.de, Maximilian Arnold spoke about the cup match against Leipzig, his new role in defensive midfield and the tragic death of his teammate Junior Malanda.
DFB.de: Mr Arnold, you’re coming up against a strong second division team in RB Leipzig in the last 16 of the DFB Cup. What do you make of the draw and what do you know about your opponents?
Maximilian Arnold: We’re at that stage of the DFB Cup where there aren’t any supposedly easy opponents left. RB Leipzig are an emerging and ambitious team. I watched their match against Eintracht Braunschweig on Monday evening. Yussuf Poulsen is a very fast and strong attacker. We should be aware of that.
DFB.de: VfL Wolfsburg have faced second division teams in the previous two rounds of the cup. You cruised to a 4-1 home victory over Heidenheim in the second round but the first round tie against Darmstadt 98 went to penalties. What made it so difficult?
Arnold: Every team that we come up against are very tactically astute and disciplined. Darmstadt made it difficult for us because they had some big players and fantastic support from their fans. However, against Heidenheim we had more space, particularly in the second half, to show the quality we have in our team.
DFB.de: In the past two seasons, you’ve been knocked out in the semifinal. Does this make the team even more determined to make it to the final?
Arnold: Every club would like to be in the final. We can talk about it if we make it through to the semifinal. First of all, we have a difficult task against RB Leipzig.
DFB.de: You began your career as an attacking midfielder but you’ve recently started playing more as a defensive midfielder. How have you had to adapt your style of play?
Arnold: I have to play safe and try to avoid making mistakes. That’s a key difference to playing in attack. If a mistake happens up front, there are always players behind in support who can deal with the situation. Therefore, you’re more likely to take risks.
DFB.de: VfL Wolfsburg are prolific goal scorers, especially in the first quarter of games. Is that coincidence or the plan?
Arnold: That might be a coincidence. We obviously want to score early in matches so we can build on that and come away with a result. We don’t panic though if we can’t make the breakthrough immediately. We know that we have the quality in our team to create chances and are capable of scoring at any time.
FB.de: As a result of the team‘s strong season, Wolfsburg are being labelled “Bayern hunters.“ How do you feel about this title?
Arnold: “Bayern hunters?" I don’t know about that. We’re currently happy at being second in the table and want to defend our position.
DFB.de: On the 10th January, the club was left in shock as your teammate Junior Malanda was killed in a car accident. How did the team come to terms with the loss and focus on playing football again?
Arnold: It’s an ongoing process. Everyone reacts differently and it was difficult to digest the news. One thing is for certain: Junior will always be with us.