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Interview: Ex-FCB man

Feulner: We aim to give Bayern real problems

First the gym, then a couple of hours rest and finally onto the training ground: the atmosphere at FC Nürnberg has reached fever pitch ahead of Saturday’s Bavarian derby (Live in English from 3:30 pm CET on Twitter and Web Radio). The mood is shared by Markus Feulner who spent six years at FCB from 1997 to 2003 and is now looking forward to facing his old club. The 31-year-old spoke to about records, old friendships and Saturday’s match.

Interview: Markus Feulner Hello Markus! Congratulations, first of all: the victory in Berlin marks a new club record for FC Nürnberg.
Markus Feulner
: Really? I only know we haven’t lost to Hertha BSC for a couple of years…

That’s right! Not since 2008. We actually meant: FC Nürnberg have never started the second half of a Bundesliga campaign with two wins in two games…
I didn’t know that. That’s good. It seems to be a year for records both from a positive and negative point of view.

Now you mention it: FCN did not win a single game before the winter break - that’s a record too. But now it seems to be OK again. Why’s that?
We produced some good performances in the first half of the season but didn’t get our just rewards. A lot of things went against us and we were also unlucky at times. Now our luck has come back. But we haven’t achieved anything yet. We still need a lot more points.

To what extent is the good start due to having the time to work with new boss Gertjan Verbeek?
Of course, we were able to work more intensively in the winter break. The coach has instilled his philosophy in us - positional play, attacking moves and switching play. He works very hard and he’s very precise with his analysis and on the training ground. That helps us all. We need to be on the case at all times.

You were certainly on the case in Berlin - with your first goal of the season. Did that goal lift a weight off your shoulders?
The real weight came off after the first win against Hoffenheim [a 4-0 success]. Everybody at the club and round about could hardly wait for it. Everybody wants us to be successful. But we all know there’s a long way to go before we’re safe from relegation. We can’t avoid to ease off.

Is it fair to say you’re more confident as a group? Has the game against FCB come at the right time?
We’re looking forward to it and the fans are up for this game. They will go into this game with a certain heady feeling - just like us. This derby is a huge match and it gives us the chance to compare ourselves with the best team in the world. We’ll try to put on a good display.

You’ve managed it a few times in the past: FCB have only won once on their last six visits to Nuremberg. How do you manage to upset Bayern so often?
(laughs) We’re very aggressive at home and we work hard. Then we start to enjoy playing. Of course, we hope we can reproduce the form in the last home game [a 1-1 draw], where we forced ourselves on FC Bayern. But it’ll be extremely difficult, there’s no question about that.

You played for FCB between 1997 and 2003. Are you still in contact with anyone at the club?
I still keep in touch with Bastian Schweinsteiger on a regular basis. We meet up now and again when I’m in Munich. We text or phone each other from time to time. I used to play alongside Pizza [Claudio Pizarro] back then. He’s a great bloke and a great player. I always like to meet old friends. But we haven’t had a bet with each other.

How closely do you follow events at Bayern?
I always look out for my old club and I watch the Champions League games at home on the TV. I grew up in Munich and I’m very grateful for having the chance to learn how to play football at FC Bayern. I had a great time.

On the subject of learning: like Philipp Lahm for example, you’ve been used in different positions over the past few months. Do pros have to be more flexible now compared with when you started out?
It’s definitely the case that there’s more and more emphasis on athleticism in footballers these days. It’s an advantage if, like me, you’ve been coached well in Munich, including in terms of tactics. Anybody who has a certain understanding of the game can play in several positions.

You’ll be 32 in a couple of weeks. Have you started to think about what you’ll do after you retire?
I obviously think about how it might turn out. I’d like to keep working in football because it’s incredible fun. It could be as a coach or in management - we’ll have to wait and see.

You lost 1-0 to Holger Badstuber in a virtual match on the games console. How do you think you’ll get on in Saturday’s match?
I don’t want to make any predictions. But I hope we can produce an incredibly good performance and give Bayern some real problems.