Mario Götze has told bundesliga.com that form will count for nothing when unbeaten league leaders Borussia Dortmund travel to Schalke in the Revierderby on Saturday.
Dortmund are 19 points better off than 12th-placed Schalke after 13 matches, outscoring the Royal Blues 37 to 14, but if Revierderby history has taught the 2014 FIFA World Cup winner anything, it's to expect the unexpected.
Last season's meeting on Dortmund soil proved as much. After going 4-0 up inside 25 minutes, BVB conspired to concede four second-half goals as Schalke rescued the unlikeliest of points in the most gripping derby in living memory.
It's a game Götze has not forgotten, and the 26-year-old attacker says Dortmund are prepared for every eventuality at Schalke's Veltins-Arena on Matchday 14...
bundesliga.com: What makes the derby so special even after so many years?
Mario Götze: It is a very special game regardless of the current situation or the position in the table of either team. It’s a big game regardless of all outside influences. It is especially important away from home because we did not put on a good performance last time and so we have a few things to put right (ed. Dortmund lost 2-0 at Schalke last season).
bundesliga.com: Does it feel like you have more to lose against Schalke?
Götze: I don’t think we see it that way. The game always have a special status every season, regardless of whether it is home or away.
bundesliga.com: Are Schalke as bad as their current position suggests?
Götze: Of course, they are in a different position to last season. They also have a heavy load with the three competitions they are playing in. They are also going through a discovery phase, which we have often had at our club and I’ve also personally had. It’s all part of it but, this is a special game, and it doesn’t matter what has happened before or whether they are not as strong as they were last year.
bundesliga.com: The season is going pretty well for Dortmund so far. How do you see it?
Götze: I see it the same way. When you think of how many points were available and how many we have, I think things could have gone worse. That, combined with our position in the table, makes for a very good return so far.
bundesliga.com: Did you expect things to be going so well?
Götze: Personally, I didn’t expect things to be going so well because these things take time with a new coach, new players, and with the development needed. You never quite know what is going to happen, but this makes it even better that things have gone so well. Of course, we know that not everything is perfect, and that we won a few games with a bit of luck. It’s nevertheless nice to have picked up the points and to get through our Champions League group. It’s great.
bundesliga.com: Why are things going so well at the moment?
Götze: The coach and the whole team are doing their bit. The opposition and how they are set up also play a role and how they perform in the situation. There are many factors that play a role and you also need a certain amount of luck to win these games. I think we are very unpredictable in games and our substitutes also score a lot of goals. There are many small things that come together and get us the points. These are all the things that are clicking, and that’s why it’s going so well at the moment.
bundesliga.com: What is it that makes you such a close-knit team?
Götze: I think the main thing is that we attack as a team and defend as a team. We do everything as a team and even the attackers try to defend until the edge of the box and try not to let anything through. The defenders also come forward for corners and this is what is making us so strong this year and is putting us in a good position. We try to do everything together and everyone gives 100 per cent to be successful.
bundesliga.com: Have you noticed a change in the way teams play against you?
Götze: If you take a look at the last two games, then they were set up very defensively and they tried to defend with almost everybody on the edge of the box. It’s difficult to assess in those kinds of situations, but when you are considering how they are set up, it’s very dependent on the opposition, on the coach, and whether you are playing home or away. It’s difficult to generalise, but you do notice that they have got more defensive over time.
bundesliga.com: Will it become difficult when opponents set up in a certain way against you?
Götze: It will be difficult because the opposition definitely tries to do different things to play against us. It's then important for us to have a Plan B or a Plan C when this situation arises. But as long as Plan A is working, then it’s alright!
bundesliga.com: Have opposing teams adapted to you trying to open the game up through the middle?
Götze: It depends on the individual team and how they are set up – whether they are playing with four in the middle or with five at the back, which would give them the man advantage in defence. It depends on whether they want a lot of the ball or not. We have had a lot of different games this season. We made life very difficult for ourselves in the first half against Bayern and we lost 2-0 away to Atletico Madrid, so there were situations when it was very hard for us. The away games in Brugge and Hannover were also very tough. I’m not sure whether it’s because of us playing through the middle because there are many factors such as the opposition, the situation, whether we are leading or are behind. It's difficult to generalise. When I think about the recent games, it is true that the opposition stood quite deep, with almost every player on the edge of the box, which makes it a different game than usual.
bundesliga.com: You were champions in 2011/12. Will you become champions again this season?
Götze: It is very difficult to assess because we have some very difficult games coming up in the second half of the season, such as away in Berlin, in Gladbach, in Munich, and in Leipzig. We have so many games ahead of us and the Bundesliga is very long, so it’s impossible to say at this time. We are pleased with our points and our position in the table, but we also know that it can look very different within just a few weeks.