SV Werder face 1899 Hoffenheim in the first Bundesliga game back after the winter break. On the books at Hoffenheim is Florian Grillitsch, who has played there since last summer when he made the move from the Green-Whites. WERDER.DE spoke to “Grillo” ahead of his visit to his former club about his best moment at Werder, the record from the first half of the season and the upcoming clash against his former teammates.
WERDER.DE: Hi Flo, firstly a very happy new year! How was your start to 2018?
Florian Grillitsch: “Thanks, and to you too! It was really nice and relaxed. New Year is never really a big deal for me. I went for dinner with my girlfriend and we had a bottle of wine. That was it really. But it was perfect.”
WERDER.DE: The preparation time in the winter break was really short because of the World Cup in the summer. From a player’s point of view – is that a curse or a blessing?
Florian Grillitsch: “It wasn’t really all that long; it was just an extra week of preparation. At the start, the legs were a bit stiff but we made a few tweaks. There were a few things that we needed to work on. I think the time helped us and we are ready for the second half of the season now. I don’t really think about whether it’s a curse or a blessing – it just is what it is.”
WERDER.DE: You are coming back to the Weserstadion on Saturday. How do you feel ahead of the game?
Florian Grillitsch: “It’s my second time back after the cup game. But it is still a special game for me because I was at Werder for a long time and I still have a lot of friends at the club. I was welcomed back really nicely last time – that made me happy.”
WERDER.DE: Have you spoken to any of your old teammates ahead of the game?
Florian Grillitsch: “We haven’t spoken this week yet but I am close with a few of the players such as Flo Kainz, Zlatko Junuzovic and Maxi Eggestein. I keep on contact with some of the physios too. That won’t change – wherever I play.”
I will never forget that dayFlorian Grillitsch
WERDER.DE: What is your fondest memory of your time at Werder?
Florian Grillitsch: “The last matchday of my first season as a professional. I will never forget that day. We were fighting to avoid relegation and we scored in the 88th minute to go 1-0 up and stay in the Bundesliga. Frankfurt went down – it was crazy. Before the game 30,000 people were there to greet us outside the stadium.”
WERDER.DE: You needed some time to adjust after your move, but since then you’ve played more and more. What’s your personal verdict of the season so far?
Florian Grillitsch: "I didn’t start here as well as I’d hoped to – partly because I was out injured during the pre-season for a while. I made good progress throughout the first half of the season though: I got a lot of game time and played well. I want to continue like this for the rest of the season."
WERDER.DE: Serge Gnabry was the latest player to go from Hoffenheim to Werder last summer. Do you often talk about your time at Werder?
Florian Grillitsch: "No, usually we just talk about TSG and what our targets are."
WERDER.DE: Werder are in the relegation play-off spot. What do you make of the situation here?
Florian Grillitsch: "In a way, you get used to that at Werder; the first half of the season never goes so well. I think the team really took off under Florian Kohfeldt and they won’t have to worry about relegation. That changes nothing about the fact that I want all three points for TSG at the Weser-Stadion on Saturday."
WERDER.DE: What kind of a game are you expecting?
Florian Grillitsch: "Werder have changed their style of play under the new manager, who I know well from my time at the club. Especially on the ball, but that doesn’t mean they’ll just be pressing us high up the pitch the whole time. We’re preparing ourselves for an opposition that sits deep and waits for the opportunity to counter. It will be very important to be full concentrated, when Werder take the lead, it’s hard for the visitors in front of that crowd to turn the game around. We learnt that in the cup, but I’m confident we can get the win this time out."