Piotr Trochowski talks about Sevilla’s European prospects, the way forward for his old club Hamburg SV, and his take on the budding rivalry between the Spanish La Liga and German Bundesliga.
The Talking Game is a regular column in which members of TheHardTackle chat with players, coaches, staff, agents and almost anybody who has a part to play in the beautiful game. In this edition of The Talking Game, Aditya Balaram caught up with Sevilla FC’s midfielder, Piotr Trochowski.
Piotr Trochowski came to prominence during his time at Hamburg SV, where his contributions in the attacking midfielder role caught the eye of football followers. He moved to Sevilla in 2011, and is looking to return to his peak after some absences due to injury.
Aditya Balaram (AB): As someone who has played in both countries, what’s your take on the budding La Liga vs. Bundesliga rivalry?
Piotr Trochowski (PT): I think we have to wait for some more seasons to have a real idea if there is a new rivalry between La Liga and the Bundesliga. At the moment La Liga is probably still the best league in the world, but the new Financial Fairplay rules of the UEFA will give an advantage to the German clubs in the future because in Germany it’s not possible for investors to take over a club; and due to the regulation system of the German Football League, the clubs have to fulfill lots of conditions [for many years] to prove that everything is correct. So, German football is financially sound, the infrastructure is great and the youth development system is really good. This will help the Bundesliga to get bigger and bigger.
AB: Do you see the Bundesliga following in the footsteps of the La Liga and becoming a two horse race in the years to come?
PT: Yes. I think the constellation is quite similar. Bayern Munich has been playing on a top level for many years and with its current squad and the new coach it will be difficult to beat. Dortmund is quiet constantly since Jürgen Klopp is the coach there and will be the largest competitor again. Behind these two top-teams, as well as behind Barca and Real in Spain, the other teams will play their season.
AB: How does the level of football in Spain compare with that of Germany?
PT: Both nations play excellent but very different [forms of] football. Spanish football is less physical, because the players are not as robust as, for example, the Germans or the English are. They’re also rather small. Therefore, the Spanish players put enormous importance to emphasize their strengths: they are always working to improve their technique and speed. In my opinion, nowhere is pressing implemented as excellently as in the Primera Division. Training is much more intensive and varied. And the analyses are more comprehensive and detailed.
AB: Do you think Seville have the quality to make it far in Europa League?
PT: Definitely, yes. Seville has the quality and requirements to play in the European competition. How successful we are depends on many factors not least of all being the luck of the draw, so it’s not possible to make a reliable forecast. If you have a look at our squad, Seville is still one of the best Spanish clubs on paper. Unfortunately, we did not draw from our potential last season. We are getting this chance just because Malaga and Rayo were rejected a license. I hope we will be able to use this opportunity.
AB: In your opinion, how important is the Europa League?
PT: Of course the Champions League is the most interesting and prestigious contest, but nevertheless the Europa League means playing international football as well. It is an exciting challenge. You have always matches during the week – and more games always means more fun and more experience.
AB: Do you think you could have achieved a lot more had you played for Poland rather than Germany? What do you make of both those national team right now?
PT: No. Of course I sympathize with the Poland team, but I am not the “what if”-type. I grew up in Germany and run through all junior national teams in Germany. So it was a logical decision for me to play for the German National team, when I got the chance. I never regretted the decision to play for Germany.
AB: The German side has changed a lot over the last few years. What would you attribute this to?
PT: That’s right. The team has developed extremely well. In Spain, this development is pursued with great interest. Germany is considered here as the greatest opponent of the Spanish national team. In my opinion this is especially due to the many young and talented players that moved up in recent years. Most of them could already gain international experience with FC Bayern Munich or Dortmund, not to mention Sami Khedira or Mesut Özil from Real Madrid, another top club in world football.
AB: Do you believe that you can make a comeback into the national team?
PT: I have had a good time in the national team and have played two large tournaments for Germany. Currently I do not deal with this issue, but put all my energy into the rehab. First of all I have to get 100 percent fit and then I want to play for Seville again. Anything else follows.
AB: Do you still follow HSV in the Bundesliga? What do you think they need to do to get back to the days of European success?
PT: Yes, of course I still follow the Bundesliga and the way of my former club. I think the current problem is apparent and well-known: the team lacks continuity. I still remember the atmosphere from my time in Hamburg. There is a lot of uneasiness. Before each match it actually felt like everything was possible, but it was and is a kind of lottery. One week the team suffers a bitter defeat, next time they win clearly. I think the club has to define a route and pursue one approach consistently and systematically.
AB: In an interview with us Hamburg legend Horst Hrubesch said that local players were crucial if Hamburg were to return to success. What do you make of this?
PT: I don’t agree. In my opinion, the basic structure is the most important factor. If the concept, the general plan of a club is clear, it shouldn’t make a difference where the players come from. Of course encouraging young talents is an important part of sustainable work and it is great if a club is competitive with many players from its own area. But in my opinion the problem that has to be solved first in Hamburg is the lack of structure.
AB: Can we see you making a return to the Bundesliga someday?
PT: At the moment I am concentrating on my rehab and I am looking forward to playing for Seville again. I like Spain, the city and the Spanish football, but of course I would not refuse to go back to Germany someday in the future, if there will be an opportunity.
AB: Who would you say is the best coach you’ve worked with?
PT: Every coach had his own character and was a case sui generis. I think one of my strength is that I am able to deal with all kind of people, so I have learned something new in each collaboration.
We would like to thank Mr. Piotr Trochowski for taking time out of his schedule and answering our questions, and also Ms. Katharina Schrott of Acta7 for helping conduct this interview and entertaining our request.