Sakai relishing Bayern trip caught up with Rothosen skipper Gotoku Sakai for a chat. The Japanese international discussed the strengths of next opponents Bayern Munich, the new-found stability in his team and how he feels ahead of facing world class French super star Franck Ribery. 

February 3rd was a bit of a strange one for HSV fans, as they saw captain Gojko Sakai celebrate his side’s crucial 1-0 home win over Bayer Leverkusen not in his usual Rothosen strip but in a brown parka coat. The reason being that the gritty defensive all rounder who had played for 1,935 minutes of HSV’s total of 2,060 minutes on the pitch was suspended after attaining five bookings. Those stats reveal an appearance rate of 90% - more than anyone else at the club. The skills of the 25 year old will be in high demand more than ever on Saturday (25.02.17, 3.30 PM) as he and HSV travel south to face odds on Bundesliga title favourites Bayern Munich at the sold out Allianz Arena in the Bavarian capital. “Go” knows that in order to take something from the game everything has to be perfect. Read here what he had to tell us. Go, the Bundesliga resumed about a month ago after the winter break and it has been an eventful time for you and HSV. How do you see the last four weeks? 

Gotoku Sakai: My assessment is positive. We made a poor start in the games in Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt, but our recent three wins inside a week helped us to get back on track. Our last game against Freiburg could have gone either way. We missed a late penalty to win the game but Freiburg also had good scoring chances. In the end we can live with a point because that is how football is sometimes. On the whole it shows new-found stability that we were not destroyed by those early setbacks but successfully fought our way back.

How do you see the current relegation battle in the Bundesliga?

Sakai: We are within punching distance of safety and have managed to keep three teams below us in the table. It is however crystal clear how tight things are in that area of the table. It is typical of the Bundesliga that a team can quickly slip into the dreaded drop zone but can also puzll clear just as quickly by winning again. Right now there are several teams fighting down there which increases our chances of staying up. 

HSV now face a challenging period during which they play six top ten sides – the first of which is against mighty Bayern Munich. What can HSV achieve there?

Sakai: Personally I want to take points from every game regardless of the class of the opposition and wherever they may be in the table. Everyone knows how tough it is in Munich because Bayern are full of world class players, as they recently underlined as they out classed Premier League side Arsenal in the Champions League. But if we can tactically and passionately perform the way we did as we beat Leipzig away from home I believe we can take something from the game. We need a tight team performance, play well in defence and take any chances which come our way up front.

On your side of the field you will probably be up against fit again French super star Franck Ribery. Do you relish such duels or do you get nervous because of his undoubted class?

Sakai: No, there is no fear, far more anticipation. It is brilliant facing world class players and I cannot wait to face up to them by producing a stable performance with our team. A player like Ribery is impossible to keep quiet for the full 90 minutes. Such things require team work. We know his strengths and you can only stop him over 90 minutes with a collective effort.