Berlin – It is always the same ritual: About one hour before kick-off Hertha officially name their starting XI for the upcoming match. Sometimes it’s the formation, sometimes it’s those involved who cause a stir. It was a case of the latter in last week’s game against Dortmund, as Thomas Kraft replaced Rune Jarstein in between the sticks. The number 2 faced up to his challenge impressively, with Pal Dardai saying afterwards: “I have said time and time again: I had no qualms about putting Thomas in goal. We can always rely on him and he showed that again.”
herthabsc.de: Thomas, Pal Dardai is always saying how satisfied he is with you. How much does that kind of support help?
Kraft: I’m on the massage table once a week and he usually asks me if I have gotten older! Jokes aside of course I am going to be pleased by such praise. Me and Pal are always talking to each other and we often exchange words even when I do not play.
herthabsc.de: Last week against Dortmund marked your first league appearance of the season. When did you learn you would play that game?
Kraft: I spoke to Rune Jarstein on Friday and he told me it was very likely I was going to play. He wished me good luck and wished him all the best. Everything passed off without a hitch but we don’t need to talk about how the game went. It’s widely known how well we get on so everything was done very easily.
herthabsc.de: How did these news change the way you approached the game?
Kraft: Not at all, I am not an 18 year old so I didn’t feel the need to put my right boot on before I put my left one on. I did the same as always. Read in the hotel, slept and ate. Then in the team meeting, as we were in the bus on the way to the stadium, I had may headpones in a listened to music. I didn’t have any butterflies in my stomach like at the start of my career, but I was positive and was looking forward to it all. As the teams came out I went to go to the bench, but then I realized and just kept walking forwards!
herthabsc.de: How do you look back at the game a few days later?
Kraft: We played really well and had more play in the first half. We had chances after that to make it 2-0. If we had got that second goal then the game would have been decided. You could see how much quality they have in the last fifteen minutes of so. 1-1 was a fair result after the 90 minutes.
herthabsc.de: You’ve played five games this season, four of them in the Europa League. What do you say those people who are skeptical about not playing regularly.
Kraft: I was happy about how I played against Dortmund. On occasions, a couple of the little things weren’t quite there in terms of timing and positioning but that gets there with match practice. The four games in the Europa League helped me, even if Dortmund are of a different caliber. It’s like riding a bike, you don’t forget. Of course, it can take a while to get back to perfect condition but you don’t forget the basics.
herthabsc.de: In your five appearances so far, there’s been a different back four in front of you each time. On Saturday against Werder Bremen, it could be a sixth different line of defence in front of you. How much do these changes affect you in goal?
Kraft: We haven’t been able to do anything about it really. We’d had injuries and that’s why we’ve changed. However, we all train together everyday and know each other’s game. Pál Dárdai always mixes it up in training regarding the defence so i don’t think it’s an issue for us.
herthabsc.de: It’s been a while since Hertha won in Bremen. Can we change that on Saturday?
Kraft: We have to perform like we did against Dortmund but it’ll be a different kind of game. Bremen are in a perilous position and we’re going to have to keep our focus throughout and take our chances. With the quality we have, I think we have a chance of taking all three points.