Makoto Hasebe: “Hoffenheim have come a long way“

After making over 100 competitive appearances for Eintracht Frankfurt, Makoto Hasabe has become a fixture of sorts at his current club. In this season alone, the defensive midfielder has played the full 90 minutes on eight occasions. Ahead of his side’s clash with Hoffenheim, the Japan international spoke about Frankfurt’s start to the season, the last few games he’s played against Hoffenheim and the upcoming game on Saturday at the WIRSOL Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Eintracht are sitting in seventh in the Bundesliga table at the moment, after winning 18 points from eleven games. How satisfied are you with your start to the season?

Makoto Hasebe: We can be really happy with the points we’ve got up until now. It took a little bit of time to find our feet at the beginning of the campaign, because we brought in a lot of new faces over the summer. Our chemistry is growing by the day though, and everyone is giving a hundred percent. The team spirits are high. That’s the most important thing.

You seem to be at home in the middle of the park, but this season you’ve played more of a role in the back three. How have you adapted to playing in this new position?

Hasebe: I obviously will play wherever the manager wants me to, but I have to say that I feel very comfortable at the back. It means that the game is played in front of me and I can pull the strings. You can also see how good our defensive record is this season, which is great to be a part of.

Eintracht utilised the time off from Bundesliga action to take part in a friendly against SV Sandhausen. How important was the 5-3 win against the second division side?

Hasebe: As I was with the Japanese national team for the international break, I can’t really say too much on the friendly. But that type of game is always very helpful to show you where you are. We have a deep squad, so any kind of playing experience is good experience - even against a second tier side.

Your teammate Jonathan de Guzman picked up an injury to his AC joint and will miss the rest of Eintracht’s games until the winter break. How big of a loss is he to the team?

Hasebe: I feel really sorry for Jono. He was injured before this too and he fought hard to work his way back into the squad. Unlike last season, however, our squad is deep enough to deal with a loss like that.

The last few games between these two sides were gritty and emotional. Will things be the same this time around?

Hasebe: I’m expecting nothing less. Both teams play with a lot of ambition going forward and are strong at the back. In defense we want to make life as hard as possible for Hoffenheim’s forwards and deal with the threat that they bring. It’ll be an entertaining one.

What kind of game are you expecting from a tactical perspective against Hoffenheim and what do you make of TSG in their second full season under Julian Nagelsmann?

Hasebe: In terms of the tactical side of things I don’t really want to give anything away - we want to stay unpredictable for as long as possible. Hoffenheim have come a long way under Julian Nagelsmann and have a lot of players that are good are what they do. Nagelsmann always prepares his team well. They’ve let a few leads slip in recent games though, so I’m sure they’ve been working hard on that. I’m expecting nothing less than a hard-fought game as a result.

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