Benjamin Stambouli: We want to push on

The Frenchman was part of the back three and talks about where his preferred position is, the competition within the Schalke squad and what Schalke face ahead of them on Friday evening.

Benjamin Stambouli, you played another 90 minutes on the right hand side of the back three in Berlin. How have you found this new position after spending last season as a defensive midfielder?
I try to prepare as well as I can for all of my appearances wherever I play, The head coach trusts me to play in several positions. Before the season begun, we spoke about how we could bring my strengths into the fore of a game. In the pre-season friendlies, I played in the back three and did well. Of course, it’s not easy to change position all the time but I don’t mind. I always want to play and am always available for the team.

How are you finding your place in the back three at the moment?
As a defender, you are the first player in the move when it comes to build-up play and possession of the ball. Therefore, we try to get the ball heading towards our opponents’ goal. To do that, you have to get around the pressing of the opposition to prevent being counter-attacked, especially in the Bundesliga that can be dangerous as many teams try to break with pace. Also, we have a responsibility when we’re not on the ball to be available to receive it and to not allow our opponents to get into dangerous areas of the field.

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that the intensity in training is very high. How would you describe the levels of competition in the team?
I don’t we have a starting XI as such. We are a team. As our squad isn’t so big this season, everyone has to be ready to come on and help out the team on the pitch. Therefore, I think our line-up will continue to change very often and everyone will get their chance. It also means that no one’s place in the starting XI is a shoe in.

A lot of players in the squad – including you – are capable of playing in a number of positions…
That’s true. The flexibility is helpful. For example, Max Meyer had a very good performance in defensive midfield against Hertha but he can help us playing behind the striker, on the wings or upfront. It means that, even though our squad is quite small, we have options and quality in every position. Everyone has to work hard in training and be fully focused. I’m optimistic that we’ll continue to improve and have a good season.

We can make the next step in the right direction in the next two home games against 1. FSV Mainz 05 and VfL Wolfsburg.
If we just continue to focus on the next game against Mainz, we have a good chance of getting a result. However, if we start thinking about later games to come, we’ll have some difficulties and most likely give up points. So we have to focus entirely on Friday. That’s the best approach we can take to have a successful season.

In that case, we’ll keep our focus solely on Friday evening too. You can prepare for serving up the perfect start to the weekend for the fans!
It’s special to play on Friday. We want to win so we can have a good weekend before we prepare for the DFB-Pokal game on Tuesday. We know there are no easy games. We just have to be confident and show enough quality to get the three points.

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