'A superb turnaround'
The first half of the 2017/18 season is over, and Bayern are in a good position in all three competitions. It is hardly surprising that Mats Hummels called the first half of the season outstanding as he looked back in an extensive interview with fcbayern.com. However, the 29-year-old centre-back thinks there is "quite some room for improvement" for the next year.
In the first part of the interview Hummels talks about the reasons for the turnaround, special matches in the first half of the season, his holiday plans and his wishes for 2018.
Mats Hummels interviewed, part 1
The last match is over. Are you glad about the winter break?
Hummels: Very glad. I'm a big fan of the winter break. And at the moment it's be crucial for me. I have to recover in terms of both my head and my body as I'll have to be in action non-stop from 2 January to mid-July I hope. The short break, even if we're talking about only ten days, is incredibly helpful.
What's your conclusion to the first half of the season?
Mixed. We can now look back on an outstanding first half even if it didn't look like that in the meantime. But we had a superb turnaround then. Now we're in a perfect position in the Bundesliga, we've advanced in the Champions League having taken 15 of a possible 18 points, and we're in the DFB Cup quarter-finals. Things are looking very good now, but I still think there's quite some room for improvement.
What was decisive for the turnaround in your opinion?
The change of coach played a part of course, we don't have to talk it down. It's made us show a shade more focus, determination and ambition. It was definitely an important factor, albeit not the only one.
Which matches of the first half do you remember?
The Paris match in a negative way because we got a roasting there. Fortunately there haven't been so many negative things apart from that. Of course there were the two draws after going two goals up. The cup thriller in Leipzig in a positive way, the great second match against Paris and for me personally the match against Celtic of course. It was very special to me because I scored my first Champions League goal for FC Bayern.
You're eleven points clear in the league despite the shaky start.
We're at the top having taken 41 of a possible 51 points, that's strong. Apart from Bayern not many clubs have enjoyed a yield like this. I was at Dortmund when we had 43 points I think. That's very good. But our lead is so big because no other team have won so regularly of course. The other teams all had their weak phases. We had a small bad patch too but we still won our matches, three times by 1-0 scorelines recently. That's what causes a cushion like this.
How will you spend the free days?
I'll stay in Munich for a few days, and then I'll go on holiday with my wife and some friends for a couple of days. It's going to be very relaxed, and we'll stay relatively close to Munich, we can't travel far as my wife is pregnant. Recuperation for mind and body has priority during the winter break. I always have to protect myself a bit, I mustn't be too active. I need to take the rest my body urgently needs at the moment.
What are your wishes for the new year?
In terms of sports I hope we'll pick up where we left off, that we'll continue to improve. Personally I hope I can keep up the high level at which I'm playing, I think I can say that. The most important factor is my health. That's what all footballers wish each other. Everyone knows everything else is secondary if you aren't fit.
The second part of the interview will be published on Thursday 28 December.