Starke: "We have to lay down a marker"

For TSG 1899 Hoffenheim, this Saturday's game against SC Freiburg is a landmark game. Three points this weekend will give the club license to start looking up the table, after a poor run of results in the league of late. Goalkeeper Tom Starke emphasised the importance of the game in an exclusive interview with “We have to prove to ourselves, and to the fans, that we deserve to be back at the top end of the league.”

Tom, the team have watched the footage of last week's defeat to Hamburger SV. Where do you think it went wrong in the Imtech Arena?

It doesn't matter what you do in a game unless you get things right in both penalty areas – I think that sums up the HSV game and what went wrong for us. We made errors in defence and we lacked composure in the final third.

Are there still positives to take from the 2-0 defeat?

Yes, it wasn't a total disaster. We lost the game, but we haven't let it hang over us. The amount of chances we created was encouraging, and had we taken on or two of them, we could have got a different result. We played some great football, and that's proof that there's a lot of talent in this team. But we need to be more composed in future.

You are currently 9th in the table with 17 points, yet just five points above the relegation zone. How do you assess the current situation?

The league is so tight right now, from the top to the bottom. A couple of wins and you're right up there with the top group of clubs. Our aim has to be to look up and see if we can break into that group of four or five behind Bayern Munich at the top. That starts with a win against Freiburg.

In view of the club's recent form, do we have to label this game as a must-win for 1899?

I think so yes, if we want to fulfil our ambitions this year. We have to lay down a marker about how good we are, and show the fans that we deserve to be near the top.

You're missing two big players at the back on Saturday. Andreas Beck is suspended, while Edson Braafheid is injured.

That's true, they are two key players for us. But our squad is very competitive, and players who have been waiting for a chance for a while will get it this week. I'm sure they'll be more than adequate replacements, whoever the manager decides to put his faith in.

Freiburg are in the relegation places after 13 games. Are you surprised that they have struggled in the league this year?

I suppose so, yes. I've seen some of their games this season, and with a little more luck they could be further up the table. But I don't really like looking at our opponents; I prefer to concentrate on me and my club. We're focused on beating Freiburg and climbing the table.

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