Florian Grillitsch: "We want to reach the knockouts"

Florian Grillitsch needed some time to settle in at TSG, but the Austrian has since firmly established himself in Julian Nagelsmann’s setup. With Hoffenheim’s Europa League clash with Sporting Braga just around the corner, the 22-year-old spoke to us about his progress, the European fixture and the club’s targets before the winter break.

You needed some time at the start of the season. What role did the preseason injury play?

Florian Grillitsch: "It definitely had an impact on the settling in process. It’s never easy moving to a new club in a new town with new teammates and a new manager. Julian’s sessions are very demanding and his expectations of the players are very high – that took some getting used to. Without my injury it would probably have gone quicker. I never lost my temper though and kept working on my own progress. The manager and his team gave me lots of advice, both on the pitch and using video analysis. They showed me exactly what is already going well and what I need to improve to be able to help the team. It was all constructive criticism, which I was happy to receive."

In the last three games you played the entire 90 minutes. Have you settled in properly now?

Grillitsch: "Absolutely. Physically I am in top condition and I feel like part of the team. The last few games obviously gave me self-confidence as well. I always want to give 100 percent and repay the coach for putting his trust in me. I am pleased with my performances in the recent games. We are a young, strong and fast group of players, and it’s a pleasure to play in this team.

There was a lot of praise for you after the Köln game in particular – including from Julian Nagelsmann and Alexander Rosen. What did you make of that? 

Grillitsch: "It was nice to hear, especially because the game didn’t start as well as I’d wanted it to. Praise is always good, but I know not to dwell on it. The Köln game was really good, but there will be games in the future where not everything runs so smoothly."

How important was the late equaliser against Frankfurt going into the Europa League? 

Grillitsch: "We went out to win the game, but the goal thankfully allowed us to avoid defeat and pick up a point. This equaliser did a lot for our mentality travelling to Braga. We were by far the better team in the second half and put them under a lot of pressure. For me it was just a matter of time before we found the equaliser. We want to build on that second half performance on Thursday and win in Braga."

Braga is practically a knockout game... 

Grillitsch: "That won’t make a difference to me psychologically. We always want to win, every time we step out onto any pitch: In the Bundesliga and the Europa League, so I don’t feel under any more pressure."

What lessons were you able to learn from the home game?

Grillitsch: "We were by far the better team in that game but failed to build on our early goal. Braga on the other hand made excellent use of very limited chances. Two goals for them and suddenly we were left empty-handed. Perhaps we took our foot off the gas a little too soon – content with the early goal. I don’t know whether we’ll re-watch the game or certain clips from it. The coaching staff will decide that. A lot of time has passed since then. 

The games are coming thick and fast now as well. On Sunday you travel to Hamburg for the next Bundesliga matchday. What are your aims going into these games up until the winter break?

Grillitsch: "Our first objective is to win twice in the Europa League and qualify for the knockout stages. In the Bundesliga we want to collect as many points as possible. We never go out onto the pitch and think 'a draw would be nice today.' We want to win; we want maximum success."

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