presented by
World Cup winner Kramer

‘Not just an everyday Bundesliga clash'

Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Manuel Neuer – Christoph Kramer. Only a few months ago the Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder was known only to experts, if at all; now the 23-year-old is a World Cup winner. In an exclusive interview with Kramer talked about the big match against FCB, his relationship with his colleagues from Munich and his personal progress.

Interview: Christoph Kramer: Hello Christoph! First of all, congratulations on the victory over Limassol on Thursday evening. How satisfied is a World Cup winner with the clear-cut 5-0 win in the Europa League
Christoph Kramer: Very much so! We had to get those three points at all costs. The victory is heartening. We can be more relaxed now when we look at the table. It isn't always easy to maintain concentration. We did it well – even if, perhaps, we were already thinking of the big match on Sunday. You took a break against the Cypriots after a severe gastro-intestinal infection. Did the break come in handy?
Kramer: At club level it's my first season that includes international competition and I'm part of the national team. I noticed that my legs got a little heavy. They're okay again. So the break wasn't inconvenient.
You lost five kilos (nine pounds) in the meantime...
It was a tough virus which I had during the trip to the international in Poland. But the five kilos are back on – so everything's okay. Your blackout in the World Cup final was tough too, which is why Philipp Lahm, Manuel Neuer and Thomas Müller played a benign joke on you in a TV show. You seem to have a good relationship...
Definitely! Thomas and Philipp were my roommates in Campo Bahia, I get in touch with Manuel on a regular basis. We had nearly ten intense weeks during the World Cup and the preparation in South Tyrol. A period like that brings people together, particularly if you're successful and clinch a title. Everything's fine then, you've done everything right. How intense is the contact right now?
Kramer: We text each other every now and then. But before the top match... we're not friends, you know (laughs). Two and a half years ago you were in a relegation struggle in the second division with VfL Bochum. Now you are a world champion. Have you even realised this fully?
It's hard to realise fully because it wasn't a step by step development but happened suddenly. Sometimes you think: 'Now you've understood it fully.' But then there are days when you ask yourself: 'How did that happen?' Everything’s happened so fast. On Sunday FC Bayern visit Mönchengladbach to face the team in second. Is it the meeting between the best two teams in Germany at the moment?
The table isn't lying. It isn't the first or second matchday, but the ninth. The table is significant now. It isn't without good reason that we are where we are. And it certainly isn't a secret that Bayern are the best German team. Werder Bremen were very defensive against FCB recently, Rome wanted to make an impression on the game – but the Bavarians were clearly superior in both cases. How will Borussia handle it?
Kramer: Clearly both strategies don't work (grins). Seriously: Our coach Lucien Favre will definitely have an idea. We'll see... What's certain is this: To have a chance we have to have a good day, but Bayern can’t have their best day. Were you surprised by Bayern’s clear 7-1 victory in Rome?
Kramer: Absolutely. When Manuel Neuer saved stunningly against Gervinho when Bayern led 1-0, I thought: this is going to be a thrilling evening! After 20 minutes it was different. Mönchengladbach had a shorter break between the matches. Is that a problem?
Kramer: Only if you keep telling yourself so. Both our games were decided early, none of the teams had to push to the limit. All of us are fit, so there shouldn't be a problem. Borussia are undefeated in 14 matches. Why is your team even stronger than last season?
Kramer: We’ve improved because we have more good players. I don't know whether we're stronger than last season. The core has remained, the team has matured. At the moment we're just playing decent, solid football and we’re well positioned. So our opponents score fewer goals – and we don't lose our matches. What kind of game can the fans expect?
Kramer: A fierce one (grins). When Bayern come to town, the stadium is always full. You know it’s not just an everyday Bundesliga clash. Everybody looks forward to it and desperate for it to start. We'll give everything we have.