The fight for a first-team place is keeping Germany's Marco Reus occupied, and the midfielder told UEFA.com: "We all have a great target. We want to win the title this year."
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Having earned a transfer to Borussia Dortmund during a dazzling season in which he scored a career-best 18 goals as VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach finished fourth in the Bundesliga, Marco Reus is now making an impact for Germany at UEFA EURO 2012.
A surprise starter in the 4-2 quarter-final victory against Greece, Reus marked his seventh cap with his second international goal, and as he spoke to UEFA.com at Germany's base in Gdansk, retaining his place for tonight's semi-final against Italy in Warsaw was still a possibility.
UEFA.com: You finally made your UEFA EURO 2012 debut against Greece – how did it feel to play and score?
Marco Reus: I didn't get to play in the first three matches, that was disappointing, but the coach told me that I should continue fighting and that I would get a chance to play. When I got that chance I had to be ready, and I tried to perform well. We won the match, so that's why I'm very satisfied.
UEFA.com: What are you learning from your experience here?
Reus: It really helps in certain situations if you have already gained experience in the previous two or three tournaments. Now we are playing in the semi-final, and it's good to have experience to know how to deal with such a match. If you are new, you deal with it in a different way, during the match as well. We still have a lot of players in our team who haven't played in any big tournaments, but we proved we can do it. Take Mats Hummels as an example. He has played the first four matches here at the EURO and given good performances.
Here you play against the best teams, against the best players in the world, and you learn something in training with the squad. The quality is very high within the team, so you are challenged and improve every day – that is the objective of every single one of us. And then, of course, during the matches you face the best players in the world, and you can copy a lot of things in how they play. All this is very helpful.
UEFA.com: This is a very young Germany team. Are the older players giving you much guidance?
Reus: Of course, but even us young players can give tips to the more experienced ones – everybody has their ideas and opinions and everybody respects that. This is very important and that's how it always should be. If a player like Bastian Schweinsteiger or Philipp Lahm comes to you and tells you you need to do things this or that way, then of course you have to take it on board and try to do what they say.
UEFA.com: What do you think of Italy?
Reus: They are a team who are very hard to play against. Andrea Pirlo has extraordinary ability; he proved that against England. So that's one thing we have to watch out for very carefully – we need to stop him playing those passes. But the whole team is full of good players. In attack they have Mario Balotelli and Antonio Cassano. This will definitely be different to the match against Greece. We will definitely be challenged more, but we will find some free space too, because Italy also play attacking football.
UEFA.com: Is it hard dealing with the competition for a starting place?
Reus: Everybody wants to improve. If you can fight and measure yourself against the strongest, that's the way it should be. The team then improves as a result. Everybody knows that they have to give their best every day, and give 100% so they can make it into the team and get a game. Everybody wants to play, but we don't have any arguments in public or tell the press that we are not satisfied. We know how to behave, we are one team – everybody knows that and everybody has to accept that. We all have a great target. We want to win the title this year.
UEFA.comL The way Germany play is very different to what you are used to with Mönchengladbach. Has that been a struggle?
Reus: In the early stages, when I was new to the team, it was a bit strange because you had to play differently, and maybe you had to change your way of playing, but I got used to it. Actually, I didn't have to change my own style so much, I just reapplied my skills. You defend with 11 players and you play attacking football at the same time. Obviously the quality changes with a national team, and you play at a higher pace and develop a feel for the game and for training with the team, but I think I've got used to that and I'm happy to be here.