Bastian Oczipka: Turning our nerves into enjoyment
It’s been 2541 days since Bastian Oczipka last made an appearance in the Champions League, and the 30-year-old will hope to feature in the competition again on Wednesday. “I’m buzzing,” says the left-back, who had an operation on his groin last summer, and therefore didn’t make Schalke’s Champions League squad for the first half of the competition.
“I couldn’t bank on being 100% fit again during the group stages,” explains the 30-year-old, who made his comeback in the middle of November, earlier than planned. “If I had come back in December, then I would have just been taking up a Champions league squad place.”
Stopping City as a collective
Now the anticipation is high for Oczipka, with a first Champions League appearance for the Royal Blues looming, having previously played three European games as a substitute for Bayer Leverkusen in the 2011/12 season. Oczipka has much respect for the side at the top of the English Premier League: “Our opponents have a brutal attack,” he understands. “We must defend well as a team to stop Manchester City from scoring.”
We worked hard as a team last year to earn the right to compete in these sorts of games.
Oczipka understands that the Cityzens go into the game as favourites. But at the same time, he knows that the result isn’t confirmed already: “They’re not in the quarter finals yet. We’ve got both matches to play first,” explains the left-back. “Of course, we’re the underdogs, but we’re working with that status. We’ll have that bit of extra spark playing at home with our fans behind us.”
The 30-year-old wants to enjoy the match: “We worked hard as a team last year to earn the right to compete in these sorts of games.” He adds that he is slightly nervous: “I’m like that in every game though. That comes with the whole playing experience, and you need that as a footballer. I’m turning my nerves into enjoyment.”