Bastian, on Tuesday Schalke lost 1-0 to Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal quarter finals. How do you look back on the game?
"It's extremely difficult to play against Bayern at the moment. TSG experienced that themselves last weekend. We wanted to stay solid in defence and be dangerous on the counter attack. We succeeded in doing so, but unfortunately, we conceded the decisive goal from a set piece. But of course, the defeat was deserved. Currently, FC Bayern are the standout team in German football."
In the league, things are not yet going as well as you were hoping for in the second half of the season. Where do you see the problems?
"We are not playing to the form that we achieved during the first half of the season. We have a lot of injuries at the moment - that doesn't make it any easier for the team either. As a team, we don’t have much power at the moment, but the cup match was a step in the right direction. We want to get back on track.”
You haven't missed a single minute of competitive action this season and had the opportunity to lead the team onto the pitch as captain on the previous matchday. What was that feeling like?
"Of course, I'm happy that I can help the team and the fact that I was even allowed to wear the captain's armband on Saturday is a great honour. Even though I know that it's only because so many players are injured, it was still a great feeling."
The first meeting between the two sides earlier in the season ended in a 2-0 victory for TSG. What are your memories of the match?
"From my point of view, the first half in particular was one of our best performances this season. In the second half, Ihlas Bebou came on as substitute and decided the game in Hoffenheim’s favour with two counter attacks. We didn't have any good protection on the counter attack and learned from that. Something like that must not happen to us again."
Both sides are separated by only two points. How important is the clash between the table neighbours?
"In the current phase, it is important for us to look only at ourselves. We've had a difficult patch recently. A lot can still happen in the coming games, but we're convinced that we'll win enough points to achieve our goals. But we have to be on our guard against TSG because they are a strong team."