Nabil Bentaleb: Positive derby memories

The derby excitement is building and it's no different for Nabil Bentaleb. The Algeria international spoke to about the comeback for the ages in the last clash with Dortmund and some unforgettable derby experiences from his time with Tottenham Hotspur.

Nabil, the next game is the most important one of the season for the fans. Do you get the feeling within the team that this is a particularly special fixture?
There’s a very special atmosphere when these two teams face each other. Every player is really focused on the task at hand. Our aim is still the same as for every other game – we want to win at all costs!

You couldn’t play in the 4-4 draw in the first half of the season due to injury. Where did you watch the game?
I was there in the stadium to cheer on the boys in person from the stands. It really wasn’t easy to withhold my emotions!

What was going through your head when it was 4-0 at half time?
A lot of things went against us in that first half, but I still had belief in the boys. One of our defining characteristics is that we never give up.

And at full time?
My first thought was that we had just made history. People will talk about that derby for years and years to come. The comeback in the second half was just unbelievable.

You’ve converted four penalties so far this season. But your teammates have also been reliable from the spot too. Who will step up if needed to in the derby?
Me, obviously! (grins)

There’s a very special atmosphere when these two teams face each other.

Nabil Bentaleb

What does a derby mean to a player?
Every player loves it when the stage is bigger and the lights shine brighter. And that is exactly the case with this derby. The pressure is obviously higher than in any other game, but I enjoy that. I cannot wait. If it were down to me, the game would kick off right now.

During your time with Tottenham Hotspur you played in a number of derbies, because there are almost a half dozen London-based clubs in the Premier League. Which game means the most?
The north London derby against Arsenal. That game captivates people. I actually made my first team debut for Spurs against Arsenal in January 2014. The feeling during those 90 minutes was just amazing.

Just a year after, you set up Harry Kane’s 86th minute goal to win the derby against Arsenal!
I can still remember that game like it was yesterday. It was such a good feeling to win. The fact that I assisted the winner made it even sweeter.

Do you have any other derby memories that have stayed with you from your time in England?
I have a lot, but the 2-1 win against Arsenal is definitely the one I remember most fondly. I also have good memories of the derby with Schalke last season, when we managed to draw 0-0 away from home. We gave everything to keep our streak going (13 games unbeaten).

After the derby is the cup semi-final. Are you letting yourself think that far ahead?
No, the only thing on my mind is the derby. Once it’s over, then we can start to turn our attention to the game against Frankfurt.

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