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Exclusive: Andreas Ottl

We’re back where we belong

Mark van Bommel, Zé Roberto, Tim Borowski and even Hamit Altintop were the pre-season names in the frame for the holding midfield position at Bayern, but relative outsider Andreas Ottl is the man who has actually filled the role. The 23-year-old has started three of the club’s four Bundesliga matches and earned rave reviews into the bargain.

“We’re really, really happy with Andreas Ottl,” declared coach Jürgen Klinsmann, praising the FCB youth product “for the way he’s approached the job and grown stronger and stronger within the team. He’s been top class in the first two and a half months.“ caught up with the midfielder ahead of the Champions League opener in Bucharest.

Interview: Andreas Ottl Andi, Bayern are back in the Champions League! How much are you looking forward to the first match among the elite in 17 months?
Andreas Ottl: “Enormously. We’re back where Bayern should be at last. Big matches against big clubs in big stadiums, the Champions League anthem before the match, every player looks forward to it. I think after a year away we’re delighted to be back where we belong.“ You open against powerful Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest. How do you rate the serial champions?
Ottl: “They won’t be easy. They’re very aggressive in front of their home crowd. It’s a traditional football stadium with a rousing atmosphere. They’re full of good players, comfortable on the ball and prepared to dribble. It definitely won’t be easy for us in Bucharest.“ Your other first-stage opponents are Lyon and Fiorentina. What’s your take on the group?
Ottl: “At first glance you might be tempted to think it’s not too bad, but I actually think it’s a very tough group. Away games in Bucharest, Florence or Lyon – who’ve always done well in recent years – are never going to be easy. But we’re confident and keen to make a decent start.“ The defensive midfield role seems to be yours at the moment. What do you make of your current situation?
Ottl: “There was lots of speculation as to who might play, but I knew that would happen. I went into pre-season aiming to work hard and put myself forward, do the best I could in every friendly, and put my case to the coach. I’ve also made sure I’m in peak physical shape, ready to perform when called upon.“ It was still a surprise to some people when you chose to extend your contract. Were you sure you’d make the breakthrough in Munich?
Ottl: “I never even considered leaving the club. I always go looking for a challenge. At Bayern you test yourself against the best every day, you’re in with a chance of trophies every year, and it’s a fabulous place for me to grow into the defensive midfielder I want to be. I’m the most defensive of our central midfielders, and I believe that’s my chance to make the position my own over the coming years.“ Jürgen Klinsmann has praised your recent efforts, but has he spoken to you personally?
Ottl: “The coach told me I did very well in pre-season. I think I’ve done OK so far, and I’ve had very good feedback from the coach, he’s pleased with me. So I’m continuing to work hard on my game, putting myself forward when I’m picked to play.“