Esser: "It'll be another battle for us"

Michael Esser has been the first-choice goalkeeper for Hannover 96 this season. Speaking in an interview with, the 31-year-old discussed the relegation battle, the victory over Nuremberg and the upcoming meeting with TSG Hoffenheim.

Michael, after three months without a win in the Bundesliga, you beat 1. FC Nuremberg 2-0 last weekend. Was it an important triumph for the whole club?

"It was obviously very important for us. Nuremberg are a direct rival for us and we knew we could leapfrog them in the table. It was also good for us mentally to finally rack up another Bundesliga win. However, it's clear to all that the match was only a small step and that we need to build on it."

The win means you're no longer bottom of the table. How do you rate your chances of staying up?

"To beat the drop, you need to work for it. In a relegation battle, what counts are the basic virtues of football such as passion or the desire to go above and beyond, even more than usual. Everyone in our team knows that, which is why everyone works hard for the team. We're stable and we can deal with the pressure. That's a very good basis to ultimately make the decisive leap in the table, which obviously doesn't look too good for us right now. I'm absolutely convinced we'll manage it."

In TSG, you're now facing a team that's competing for a European place. What kind of match are you expecting and where do you think Hoffenheim's strengths lie?

"Hoffenheim are a team that can really cause problems with the ball and, on their day, play with an extremely high tempo in every situation. We'll counteract this. For us, it'll be another battle. But no-one will be expecting us to be trying to win a prize for beautiful football."

You've made more saves than any other goalkeeper in the division this term by some distance – ahead of Oliver Baumann in second. How do you assess your own performances this season?

"I think I offer a stable backbone to the team. Part of that is that I try to save as many of the shots that come at my goal as I can. That's my job. We finally kept a clean sheet in the last match. That makes me happy, but that's not solely down to me. The lads who play in front of me contributed to that too."

You've previously played three times against TSG Hoffenheim but you've never won a game against them. Is there still a lot of confidence ahead of the upcoming meeting in Sinsheim?

"I would guess not many people rate our chances on Saturday – but we certainly do. And that's what matters. We took a lot of confidence from the game against Nuremberg. This week of training has been very good, too. We'll be ready on Saturday."

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