FRANKFURT — Neven Subotic made his first start for Borussia Dortmund since March 2016. After the 2-2 draw in Frankfurt, he talked about the game and his situation at the club.
How did you react when you found out that you were going to start?
Neven Subotic: There was an indication in Friday’s training that I may start but I could only be sure when it was announced in our team meeting later that day. Of course, I was elated. It felt a bit like a World Cup match — it doesn’t happen all too often. Even though I play a lot of football every day in training and do my best, but it’s a special feeling to be back on the pitch [in a competitive game].
It also wasn’t a game that would bore you, was it?
Definitely. Those games are the reason why you become a professional footballer in the first place. Frankfurt were very athletic, very physical and robust. They made life tough for us and we had to work really hard for that one point. We worked well, I thought. Especially in the second half when the action took place on both ends. Sadly, we couldn’t capitalise when the opponent opened up. In the end, we had the chance to score a winner but it didn’t come off. It was a very intense match and I have to admit that it’s fun for a centre-back. I don’t like it when you just play it around the back all the time.
Nuri Sahin just said that he always has a sense of security when you’re on the pitch. Do you think that you will get a real chance?
Whether I believe that I’ll get a chance? I hope. I hope I could show with today’s performance that I can compete in the Bundesliga on a big pitch when it’s eleven against eleven and that I can help the team but obviously opportunities are rare at the moment for me. I do my best in training each day and I’m waiting for my chance. I’m ready at all times. Call me and I’ll be there.
You want to prevail in Dortmund, which is the sole reason you didn’t leave
The surrounding in Dortmund is amazing – I mean I’ve been here for eight, nine years. When I’m not playing, the team has the utmost support for me. Nuri’s compliment means a lot to me and just shows that I’m valued within the team. That is important, especially in more difficult times. And I hope that it won’t always be like this, that I will eventually get my chances. Obviously, I will be able to raise my game as well once I’ve got a couple more games under my belt.
What is the hardest part when coming back after such a long time?
The lack of automatism, although I have to say that it worked very well today. It improves once you’ve passed the ball back and forth five times. Then you know how your teammates play and what kind of runs they are making and they know how I act.
It was a reshuffled backline today. Julian Weigl played centre-back next to you and Marc Bartra was playing right-back. Does that make things easier as everyone is more focused?
Well, I can’t draw a comparison right now. In any case, it was a very tough match and it would have been hard for anyone. An opponent that has such an intense, attacking and dynamic style will cause trouble against anyone. I don’t think that Eintracht Frankfurt are happy with their performance. I think that they executed their game plan quite well.
Were you feeling your legs in the game?
No. The coach asked me during the game whether I could go 90 minutes. I told him that I could go 120, if need be. I’m top fit. If there is something I can do it’s running. I’m not new to playing twice a week. That is my strong point. I don’t excel in every category but I can run and keep up with my opponents. That’s something I picked up during the Klopp-era where great athleticism was required of everyone.
What did the coach say to you after the game?
He praised me and said: “Well done.”
Did you feel like you had won the match after the 2-0 lead?
No, it was such a wild match that you couldn’t think that. It was so intense that you don’t have time to start calculating or count the minutes until full time. I think neutral saw an exhilarating game tonight. Especially in the second half, when Frankfurt came running at us and we were running at them.
It was the critical phase of the match where you could sense that either we would score a third and then add a fourth or that Frankfurt would score.
Was 2-2 a fair result?
Not really, considering that we had so many chances to decide the match in our favour. I think we showed a good performance today but it the result leaves a bitter taste in our mouths. There is still a lot of room for improvement.
Was today’s match an improvement, a step back or stagnation?
That is impossible to say. In every season you go through phases. Sometimes you are on a roll but even if you win 50 games in a row there is always a chance that you lose a game and then the media will be on your back. I think that we have a good game plan and there is a very firm belief in what we do within the team.