Niklas, the winter break is over. How happy are you that the football's restarting?
"We've prepared ourselves superbly and we're delighted that the Bundesliga is restarting. It's a special match for me and that makes it even better."
What makes the match against TSG so special for you?
"Sinsheim became my home for a time. I joined TSG at 14 years of age and I have fond memories of my many special moments with the club. For example, when I became the first player to progress all the way from the youth ranks to the Bundesliga team. I was in Sinsheim over the winter break and visited my friends. I'm really looking forward to returning."
You're in second place ahead of the restart. What's your aim for the second half of the season?
"We naturally want to become German champions again. It's feasible to make up the six-point gap to Borussia Dortmund. However, we cannot allow ourselves to go through another dip like we did in the first half of the season. Instead, we'll need to do our homework and win our games. Alongside the Bundesliga, there are other highlights awaiting us in the form of a DFB Cup tie against Hertha in Berlin and a meeting with English league leaders Liverpool in the Champions League. We need to put in some good performances and then we have a chance of winning any competition."
"TSG have a super squad"
Hoffenheim have been able to win both of the last two meetings between the teams in Sinsheim. Why have Bayern repeatedly had problems travelling to the Kraichgau in the recent past?
"It's always difficult to play away to TSG. They compete courageously under Julian Nagelsmann and don't simply sit back. I was still wearing a Hoffenheim shirt when the club picked up their first-ever victory over Bayern. That was a really special moment. TSG continue to have a super squad in the current campaign too. Naturally I hope that we win the match on Friday, but once that's over I'll be crossing my fingers for Hoffenheim and hoping that they win the remainder of their games."
What will it come down to on Friday?
"The first game after the break is never easy. The teams have not yet rediscovered their rhythm. Small details will prove decisive such as which team settles into the game better and who will take their chances? TSG always produce a spectacle at their matches. That's why I'm sure that it'll be a very interesting encounter for the spectators."
Are you still in contact with any of TSG's players or staff?
"I often write with Benjamin Hübner and Kevin Vogt as well as the physiotherapist Manuel Kreuzberger. But we see each other in the Bundesliga anyway. When I come back, it's always very welcoming and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone again on Friday."