Matija Nastasic: 100 Bundesliga appearances for Schalke means a lot to me
Matija Nastasic was inducted into the ‘100 club’ against SC Paderborn 07 at the weekend. The centre half speaks about reaching this milestone, the upcoming game against Mainz and why he’s looking forward to facing Bayern Munich in the next round of the DFB Pokal.
Matija, you made your 100th Bundesliga appearance for Schalke against Paderborn. How much does this mean to you?
I’m very proud to have even been given the chance to play for Schalke in the first place. It means a lot to me to have made 100 Bundesliga appearances for this club. I hope that there’s still many more to come.
You’ve been at Schalke for over five years now. How closely do you hold the club to your heart?
This club has become a second family to me over the course of the last five years. I feel really at home here and every single day that I come to the training ground, and work with everyone involved in the club, makes me really happy.
You’ve played in a number of different defensive partnerships so far this season due to injuries. Is it difficult for a defender to play next to someone you’ve never played with before?
As a centre back you always have to adapt when you line up next to someone new. Unfortunately we’ve had to rotate a lot due to our injury problems. We have lots of centre halves so it doesn’t really make a difference who plays. The more you know someone, and the more times you play together with them, the better your communication on the pitch becomes.
This club has become a second family to me.
Recently, you’ve played with Ozan Kabak and Jean-Clair Todibo, who are both nineteen and twenty respectively. What makes them so special and how good can they become?
Everyone can see that they both have huge potential and an enormous amount of quality. There’s no doubt in my mind that they both have big futures ahead of them. They will continue to prove that they are very talented centre backs, and will hopefully go on to celebrate a lot of success here.
You only managed to pick up a point against Paderborn, with Mainz next on the agenda. In what areas do you need to improve?
It was a difficult game for us against Paderborn, having played the full 120 minutes against Hertha BSC in the cup just a few days before. Every game is a battle in the Bundesliga, and SC Paderborn are no different as they are fighting to stay in the division. They also play really good football, which they proved at the weekend. We should have put the game to bed after we went 1-0 up but unfortunately we couldn’t find the second goal. Now we need to concentrate on the next game in Mainz as that will be just as difficult. We’re preparing ourselves for a tough battle, and we need to ensure that we play to our strengths.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Ozan and Jean-Clair have big futures ahead of them.
Your visit to Mainz last season didn’t go so well. Does that give you even more motivation as a player to go and do better this time around?
You’re motivated before every game, but even more so when you have last season’s defeat in the back of your mind. We need to stay focused and perform as well as we can. We’ve struggled there a lot over the years, not just last season. We know what we’re up against and we’ll be ready for it.
You have been drawn against FC Bayern for the quarter final of the DFB-Pokal in March. Your last time out against the record champions ended in a 5-0 defeat. Why is a result still possible this time around at the VELTINS-ARENA?
It’s good for us that we have another opportunity to play against Bayern again this season. In Munich we were far from our best, and now we have the chance to prove that we can hold our own against Bayern. Also, why not? The DFB-Pokal is a completely different competition, and anything is possible.