Created on 30-04-2008 at 00:00 AM
At the age of 31, Mark van Bommel is one of the most experienced players at Bayern. The Dutchman has won practically all there is to win at club level, and has starred for household-names such as PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona. Now, Van Bommel and Bayern must overcome Russian champions Zenit St. Petersburg on Thursday to make the UEFA Cup final. “We’re absolutely certain we’ll get through,“ declared Van Bommel, a commanding midfield presence for the German double winners. However, should Mark collect a yellow card in St. Petersburg, he would miss out on any final involving the men from Munich.
Interview: Mark van Bommel
fcbayern.de: Mark, drawing on your extensive experience, what will make the difference in St. Petersburg?
Mark van Bommel: “It’s hard to say. Some of the lads have never been involved in a European semi-final or played in the Champions League. I think the old heads like myself can help in some respects, both before and during the match.“
fcbayern.de: You’re clearly under pressure after the 1-1 draw in the first leg.
Van Bommel: “The situation is the same as it was against Getafe. We’re at a disadvantage, but we’ve played good football all season, and we’ll try and keep it up against St. Petersburg. I have no doubt we’re right to be optimistic. Our 4-1 win against Stuttgart on Sunday will definitely give us a lift. We’re absolutely certain we’ll get through.“
fcbayern.de: You know Zenit boss Dick Advocaat from his time as Netherlands coach, and he watched you in Munich last Sunday. Do you think the match made an impression on him?
Van Bommel: “I don’t believe so. Mr Advocaat knows exactly how we play and what we’re capable of. I certainly don’t have the impression he regards his team as favourites. In any case, he’ll keep on calling us favourites in the media.“
fcbayern.de: If you pick up another booking, you’ll miss any final involving Bayern.
Van Bommel: “I know the situation from the season I won the Champions League with Barcelona. I spent the six matches preceding the final under the threat of a ban, and that’s been the case for the last six matches this season as well. Obviously that’s at the back of your mind somewhere, so you just have to be a little more cautious in the tackle.“
fcbayern.de: It’s the 90th minute in St. Petersburg, and it’s 2-2. One of the Russians is heading for goal with only the keeper to beat. You’re behind him. What do you do?
Van Bommel: “Then you just do what you have to do in that situation and risk a booking. Missing the final would be a personal tragedy for me, but if it helps the team, you have to be ready to sacrifice yourself.“
fcbayern.de: You won the Dutch league with Eindhoven, and the Spanish title and the Champions League with Barcelona. What does the German domestic double mean to you, and where would a UEFA Cup triumph fit in?
Van Bommel: “A double is always very special, and you only get a shot at a European trophy maybe once or twice in a career. I already possess a Champions League winner’s medal, and now I want to lift the UEFA Cup. We’ll do whatever it takes. Three trophies in one season would be massive.“