Halstenberg: "It'll be a meeting of equals"

Marcel Halstenberg is a first-team regular at RB Leipzig, where he occupies the left-back role in the Bundesliga's best defence. In an interview with, the 27-year-old spoke ahead of Monday's match (20:30 CET/Live Ticker at about previous meetings between the teams, Leipzig's defensive solidity and what this season has held in store for his side.

Marcel, you're in the DFB Cup quarter-finals and you're currently fourth in the Bundesliga. How satisfied are you with the season so far?

"We've conceded very few goals to date, which is something that means a lot to me as a defender and is testament to the performances produced by me and my team. On the other hand, our elimination from the Europa League was certainly a negative experience for us as we obviously really wanted to go through. We now want to make up for that by doing as well as we possibly can in the Bundesliga and the DFB Cup. Overall, I'm satisfied with how the season has gone to date."

There have already been two meetings between the teams this term. Leipzig have won both games. What's been the difference?

"We were highly focused in both matches and perhaps we simply had the momentum on our side – that can help to decide the outcome of the match. We know that we always need to produce a top performance against Hoffenheim if we're to beat them. They usually punish the smallest of lapses by the opposition, so we certainly can't allow ourselves any mistakes."

Monday will be the third meeting between the sides. What kind of match are you expecting and where do you see TSG's strengths?

"I think that it'll be a meeting of equals that will be characterised by speed and offensive strength. The team that makes fewer mistakes will probably emerge victorious in this match, as both teams possess a lot of quality and don't need a lot of chances. We know how strong TSG are in technical and tactical terms and that they're particularly strong when they have possession of the ball. They have outstanding players, some of whom are capable of making the difference – but we do too."

You have the best defence in the league. What makes you so strong at the back?

"The collective and the fact our strikers form our first line of defence. They work very hard and cover an awful lot of ground when we don't have the ball. That applies to everyone in our team all the way through to the goalkeeper. We're all just really keen to keep a clean sheet. That is always one of the primary objectives we have going into our games."

You suffered a torn cruciate ligament at the beginning of last year but you've been fit again since the start of this season. How important is it for you to be playing without any injury concerns again?

"There's a huge sense of relief and I'm very satisfied with how seamless my return to action has been. As a footballer, you learn not to take it for granted when you sustain an injury like that. You really appreciate being injury-free and what a privilege it is to be able to do this profession."

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