Valentino Lazaro has only missed 90 minutes of action so far this season. The Austrian only missed the 3-0 victory away against Borussia Mönchengladbach due to suspension after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season. The full-back has impressed both as a standard right-back and also in more attacking roles so far this season. The 22 year-old played an important role in Hertha’s 2-1 home win against Mainz last weekend, providing the corner for Niklas Stark’s winning goal. In an interview with herthabsc.de, Lazaro spoke about the positive development of the team, the strong team spirit and Saturday’s away match against SC Freiburg (15:30 CET).
herthabsc.de: Tino, the team showed a very good reaction to falling behind right at the start of the second half against Mainz on Saturday. The Blue-Whites managed to turn the match around in just 14 minutes and secure all three points. Hertha’s strong performance means the team has now secured ten points so far in this season’s Rückrunde, almost the same as the entire of last season (12). Are these statistics a sign that the team has grown in self-confidence?
Lazaro: Defintiely and this is the case both on and off the pitch. It was much more difficult for us to turn matches around last season after falling behind. We’ve been able to recover from difficult situations much better this season. This was evident in our very first match of the season, the DFB-Pokal match against Eintracht Braunschweig. We scored immediately after Braunschweig equalised and we progressed to the next round as a result. Perhaps that was the catalyst for our good responses to conceding so far this season (grins).
herthabsc.de: Winning certainly leaves a good taste in your mouth. As a fan watching on, we can see that this helps to create a very strong team spirit…
Lazaro: There is a strong togetherness in the squad and this makes us strong. You can see this more and more on the pitch, especially when a new player is included in the starting lineup. It is due to the strong team spirit and the coaching team each of us can come into the matchday squad so easily and play well. We certainly should maintain this until the end of the season!
herthabsc.de: Journalists and fans have praised you for your clear and precise analysis directly after the victory against Mainz on Saturday. Do you address areas that you could improve to your game with your teammates?
Lazaro: When I started playing football, I was made to analyse my style of play very precisely after every match to be able to improve my overall game. I think its good and important that we also do this internally as a team. It very important to give each other regular feedback, especially when things don’t go as well. This allows us to work on our weaknesses together as a team.
herthabsc.de: There are ten Bundesliga matches remaining this season and there are 30 points still up for grabs. How are you approaching the final third of the season?
Lazaro: As always, we are solely concentrating on our next match and have been advised not to start talking about what position we will be in after the final match of the season. We are preparing to face Freiburg and of course we hope to secure all three points away from home. I have constantly said this season that we have the potential to secure European football come the end of the seaon.
herthabsc.de: Since joining the club from the capital, you have played Freiburg three times and the match has ended in a draw on all three occasions. What is it like to face Freiburg and how do the team need to approach Saturday’s match to ensure that you can enjoy another victory?
Lazaro: We should go to Freiburg and approach the match with the self-confidence secured from the victory against Mainz on Saturday. We have to play attacking football and force Freiburg to adopt to our style of football. We cannot allow Freiburg to dictate play with their style of play. We have a bit more quality in our squad but Freiburg have always been difficult opponents to face. They have a strong team and several players in attack who are clinical in front of goal. We have to bring the highest quality we possess on Saturday and we will need to give 110% to secure all three points.
herthabsc.de: We would like to quickly look ahead beyond the end of the season to this summer. After the final matchday of this Bundesliga season, Hertha BSC will travel to the United States for an end of season tour. The team plan to play two friendlies during their time in the USA. You are a big fan of the USA and have already visited the country on multiple occasions on holiday. How excited are you to return there for the tour?
Lazaro: We have already spoken about the tour as a team. Of course I am very excited. I have already made a few close friends in the USA and will be a great experience to return there with the club. If it was possible, I would definitely like to stay in the United States for a little longer!