These are exciting times for VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach. After a fourth-place finish in the Bundesliga last term, the 1977 European Cup runners-up are just a play-off away from competing in the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time.
It is a far cry from when Lucien Favre took charge in February 2011, when the side were adrift at the bottom of the table. The Swiss coach talks to UEFA.com about the upcoming campaign and how the squad is dealing with an influx of new faces and the departure of some old favourites.
UEFA.com: How happy are you with preparations so far?
Lucien Favre: I am pleased. We have trained well and had some great conditions at the training camp. Unfortunately, Peniel Mlapa picked up an injury in the last warm-up match against Bochum, and he's going to be missing for a while. That is always one thing you want to try and avoid during the build up to a campaign.
UEFA.com: How are the new arrivals, such as Luuk de Jong, Granit Xhaka and Álvaro Domínguez, settling in?
Favre: They have integrated well. It is one of the reasons we needed this preparation period. Obviously they have to get used to German football and the Bundesliga. It is a big adjustment for the players who have come from abroad and we must not forget that they are all still very young. We have to have patience and give them some time.
UEFA.com: Will you be bringing anyone else in before the season starts?
Favre: That depends on how the rest of our preparation goes. Anything can happen during this period.
UEFA.com: What is the mood like in the team?
Favre: The mood is good and the fans are staying realistic. They are looking forward to the new season and playing in the Champions League, but they also know that we have lost the spine of our team in [Marco] Reus, Dante [Bonfim] and [Roman] Neustädter, and that first we have to start building a new squad. The supporters know that there is a difficult season ahead of us.
UEFA.com: Before the Bundesliga starts, the first round of the DFB-Pokal Cup takes place on the 18 August. What do you expect from this competition?
Favre: We want to get past [Alemannia] Aachen in the first round. There is no point in setting a specific aim in the cup – a lot depends on having a bit of luck with the draw – but, of course, we will approach every game in the cup with the intention of winning it.
UEFA.com: What are your intentions this season?
Favre: Like I said, we have lost the spine of our team. It is like Barcelona losing [Lionel] Messi, Xavi [Hernández] and [Gerard] Piqué all at once. It is impossible to predict what is going to happen. We will do what we did last season: take each game as it comes and fight for every point. That is the only way to go about it.
UEFA.com: Who do you think will win the league and which team could be the surprise package?
Favre: Dortmund or Bayern, one of those two will be the champions. All the others are underdogs. It would be sensational if another team were to win it.
UEFA.com: Last season you qualified for the UEFA Champions League play-offs. Have you set yourselves a target or is it just great to be a part of it?
Favre: We also want to approach the European matches with the intention of winning them. It would not make sense to say anything different. We still do not know who we are up against in the play-offs.
UEFA.com: Is there a particular team you fancy meeting in the group stage?
Favre: No, there are so many interesting opponents. It is just pot luck.
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