Bastian Oczipka: There must be competition for places

After a personally disappointing preseason, Bastian Oczipka – as well as the rest of the team – is back to his normal self. Although the dropped points due to the last-minute equaliser against 1. FC Köln were annoying, it is “nice that we can be happy for little while”.

“I haven’t heard the fans in the VELTINS-Arena be as loud as they were in the second half against Köln,” the enthused the left-back, who has played the full 90 minutes of all eight competitive games this season.

With 14 points from their first seven games as well as progressing in the DFB-Pokal, the Royal Blues are currently enjoying a good start to the season. “We sat down as a team and we said in the summer break that we have to tick off preseason,” Oczipka revealed. The team did not just want to show their own fans, but fans “all over Germany that we could do better.” They have certainly done that so far. “And we want to continue to do that for the rest of the season”, said Oczipka.

The coach has said since the first day back that we should focus on ourselves and not too much on the opponents.

Bastian Oczipka

Ever since head coach David Wagner joined, there have been encouraging signs of progress in the squad. One of the secrets to their success is, according to Oczipka, that, “the coach has said since day one that we should focus on ourselves and not too much on the opponents. Furthermore, it is logical that every coach has his own style and his own way that he wants to play football.”

The responsibilities are split between everyone

The left-back now has 232 Bundesliga matches under his belt, and at the age of 30, is one of the more experienced members of the squad. However, despite his age and experience, he does not have the sole leadership role within the squad, as Wagner takes the whole team into account. “The coach demands that there not be just one or two players to take on these responsibilities, but to split them between everyone,” Oczipka reveals.

In the past couple of games, Wagner has been able to get the most out of having a large squad. The bigger the squad, the more competition for places. “Competition, especially with a club as big as Schalke, has to be present – and it’s absolutely there,” Oczipka says. “We have a very well-balanced squad, and it’s going to be hard for the gaffer to pick a starting XI out of it, even more so if we have no injured players.”

Suat works hard and is a great footballer. In addition, he isn’t so bad over long distances.

Bastian Oczipka

One player who has long won over many Schalke fans, and recently Germany coach Joachim Löw, is Suat Serdar. The 22-year-old was called up for the upcoming international matches against Argentina on Wednesday (9.10) and Estonia on Sunday (13.10). “Suat absolutely deserves it,” says Oczipka. Serdar had performed well at the end of preseason and his ability in front of goal this season has been noted. Oczipka: “But he has a lot more qualities: he works hard, and is a great footballer. In addition, he isn’t too bad over long distances.

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