Against Hamburg you came on after just 20 minutes, which was a tough start. What was your take on that?
Ermin Bicakcic: It wasn’t easy to be substituted on so early into the game. When I came on, HSV were applying a lot of pressure. But you always have to be physically and mentally prepared to help the team when you come on. Of course we wanted the three points, but we weren’t able to implement our plan the way we wanted to. In the end, we didn’t do enough to earn the win.
When you are directly involved in the opponent’s equaliser, how does that affect you during the game?
Bicakcic: Everything goes very quickly in football and so split-decisions can be important sometimes. It is therefore important to be fully focused on your task as soon as you are on the pitch. Regardless of what happens in the game, whether it be an equaliser or another negative situation, you have to keep going and try to fulfil your task right to the end.
You are part of the “Oldies” in the team. How noticeable is that in the dressing room?
Bicakcic: It’s very strange that as a 26-year-old, you are part of the oldies. I can no longer be considered to be one of the talented ones (laughs)! I have the respect of the team, but age doesn’t play a role in that. It’s more about your presence as an individual. I think it is just the way I am and the way I carry myself that some players come to me for advice, which I am of course more than happy to give. On the pitch it is obvious that everyone has to take responsibility. Off the pitch, you need players who can lead. I like doing that and I think it comes naturally.
You will face former teammate Tobias Strobl on Saturday. Do you still speak to him? What kind of game are you expecting?
Bicakcic: We don’t communicate so much anymore. But I am really looking forward to seeing him again and so are the other boys who played with him here at Hoffenheim. It’s going to be an intense match. Gladbach’s league position doesn’t reflect the quality they have as a team. We have to be attentive and stick to our game plan.
What are your objectives for the game?
Bicakcic: Of course we want to win the three points in Gladbach. We will go into the game with this attitude. We will be well prepared for our opponent. It’s really important that keep confident and play our best football.
The year is drawing to an end. What do you hope to achieve in your last five games of 2016 and are you happy with how 2016 went?
Bicakcic: We want to do as well as possible in our last few fixtures to end the year well. There has been a lot of positives we can take from this year, including my contract extension at Hoffenheim. Our sporting situation is good, we have been playing some really good football.