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Vasilj: "I'm expecting a good battle to the end of the season"

Goalkeeper Nikola Vasilj took time out between two high-intensity training sessions on Wednesday to talk to the media about the promotion race and various other subjects.

Nikola Vasilj on...

...his increased workload in recent matches: "I can remember saying earlier on in the season that I had didn't have much to do. I was joking, of course. No goalkeeper likes having nothing to do, but when you get more shots on goal, some will go in. I try to save as many as possible. It's obviously easier for me when we defend well as a team. I can't tell you what the exact cause has been recently but it's obvious we aren't as stable defensively as we were in the first part of the season. We work a lot on our defending, but sometimes you have phases in football when everything goes well and then sometimes when it doesn't."

...clean sheets: "For me it's important to keep a clean sheet, but it's more important that we win games. I'll always be happier if we win 4-3 instead of drawing 0-0."

...set pieces: "We're working on them just as we did at the start of the season, us with goalkeeper coach Matze Hain, and all of us as a team. We haven't changed anything in that respect. The corner from Kittel that led to their goal in the derby was superbly taken, which made it really tough for me and the defenders."

...recent league games: "We've taken just two points from the last four games. It's no secret we haven't been so good away from home so far and three of our last four games were away. We have to become more stable and need more focus and we work on that every day and analyse all our games."

...Dennis Smarsch and the success in the DFB Cup: "I'm really pleased about that and I'm pleased for him. We have a very good relationship. He supports me every game and I do the same for him. I was happy for him when he played well against Dortmund and we reached the next round as a team."

...the promotion race: "I don't think there'll be as many teams in contention at the end. I'm expecting a good battle to the end of the season with the big clubs such as Schalke 04, Werder Bremen and HSV. We're second at the moment and not putting ourselves under any pressure. We go into every game wanting to win it. It's important that we find our rhythm and go on a run like we did in the first part of the season when we won several games in succession."

Photos: Witter

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