Nordtveit: "The whole planet will be watching"
Håvard, the first home match in the UEFA Champions League is coming up soon. You have already played in the competition with Borussia Mönchengladbach in 2016. What makes the tournament so special?
"It's mainly the feeling that the whole planet is watching. The UEFA Champions League interests every football fan in every country. Because of the many cameras and the enormous interest, you can feel on the pitch that the match isn't being broadcast in just one or two countries, but is reaching people all over the world sat in front of their television sets. This creates a unique kind of excitement, of course. And for me it's a great pleasure to be playing in the Champions League with our team, our small family. It's simply unbelievable to be one of the players who have qualified for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League with Hoffenheim for the first time. It's a historic success for TSG."
You go up against Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk and Olympique Lyonnais in the group stage. How did you experience the draw?
"I was very nervous, almost as much as for a match, and was wondering the whole time when they would get on with it because the show went on for a very long time. I'm satisfied with what came out of it. I'm very happy to be returning to England and I believe that we can progress. Manchester City are, of course, a world class outfit, we've already seen how things are against Donetsk, and Lyon are beatable, but they'll be watching us and will know what to expect. We still want to be in the competition the other side of winter, but it is the away games at this level which are particularly tough."
Will the experience of last season help you all, when participation in the UEFA Europa League came to an end after the group stage had been concluded?
"We knew then too that it would be difficult, but were of course dissatisfied with our performance. We are now determined to show Europe that we can do better. We now have the chance to play against Europe's elite teams and to demonstrate the level we're at. That went well for us when we played Donetsk."
The first home match is coming up soon when Manchester City rock up in Sinsheim. What are you doing to prepare immediately before the match?
"We can hardly wait for kick-off. We are of course training with the official match balls on the day before the game, and there were innumerable photographers at the final session. You feel at every second the enormity of what's at stake. And the matchday itself is then a long day. After getting out of bed, all you actually do is spend the day waiting for the incredible anthem to sound and for the referee to finally blow his whistle for kick-off."
City are one of the favourites for the title. You have already played against City with Mönchengladbach and West Ham. What can you expect?
"Manchester City are very strong in attack. They have midfielders who can play the most difficult of passes out of absolutely nowhere. Sometimes in top matches it looks as though they are under extreme pressure – and then they conjure up a perfect attack out of the hat unexpectedly and take the lead. You can't let up for one second against them and can never get complacent. They just need one good pass and then it's already too late."
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