Bayern Munich have one cup under their belt, the league all but sewn up and a good chance of making the UEFA Cup final. The club's Brazilian defender Ze Roberto tells DW-WORLD.DE what motivates the Bavarian giants.
Ze Roberto has played more games than ever before and is holding up well
DW-WORLD.DE: Ze Roberto, let's talk about the coming game with Zenit St. Petersburg. Can Bayern Munich make it to the UEFA Cup final? How high are the chances?
Ze Roberto: We have a big chance to reach the final in spite of the result from the first leg of the semi-final at home. We can win and want to win in St. Petersburg. We are on a good run and have had some luck on our side.
This luck may have helped in the Bundesliga and maybe even in the UEFA Cup, if you consider the crazy game against Getafe, but can you count on it?
The games in Europe are very different from the ones played in the Bundesliga or the German Cup. In the UEFA Cup you have a lot of teams which are not seen as being the biggest in Europe but are nevertheless very strong and have a lot of quality. They want to win this title. The problem has been for us the games at home, such as against Getafe and last week against Zenit.
Can you explain why the results have been so close and the ties so complicated when Bayern has the potential to get a result quickly and more clearly?
Ze Roberto is at a loss to explain why Bayern fade
We have recently had two types of halves in these games. In the first half we are normally dominant, aggressive and determined. In the second half, though, we have been unable to maintain that level. I can't explain why. Maybe after so many games we are tired. But the fact is, unfortunately, it is in the second half that we often give things away.
But to get to the final of the UEFA Cup, the team must be able to maintain that first half level of dominance for the whole 90 minutes.
That's right. We plan to perform for the whole game in St. Petersburg at the level we showed in the first half of the game against Zenit in Munich.
Is it a mental problem that the team cannot maintain such a high level for the whole game?
It is a primarily a psychological problem and also a physical problem with tiredness. Nevertheless, we always come out of the dressing room with the vision of victory in our heads, regardless of who our opponent is.
Lucio was the unlucky figure last week in the first game against Zenit -- his own goal gave St. Petersburg the draw and set up the nervous match in Russia. Does the team stand behind him? Has he regained his confidence?
Lucio's own goal complicates the tie with Zenit
The sort of own goal Lucio scored seldom happens under normal circumstances. We are a real team, and we stand behind Lucio. If we did not support him then we would not be a team because the idea of unity would be absent. Lucio is extremely motivated, just like we all are and our combined purpose is the welfare of the team -- not the honoring or castigating of individuals.
You have never played as continuously throughout a season as you have during this campaign. How are you feeling?
Everything is going well. I'm surprised myself to have played so often, but I have remained free of injuries and from health problems. It is a very positive thing to feel so physically and emotionally fit at the end of the season.
Has it been a difficult season?
One does not experience a season of challenges like this every year, maybe once every three or five years. It is nice to be in this position where we are playing for three trophies which we want to win. We have the German Cup, the league championship is very close -- we only need one more point -- and we have a great chance in the UEFA Cup. We have talked a lot about this and our coach Ottmar Hitzfeld has gone over with us many times how special this is. This is something great we are creating, something that is very special and that motivates us.
In spite of the tiredness?
Yes. This motivation, these big challenges help us to overcome the tiredness. We are concentrating very much and the bones and muscles will stay strong because we stand on the brink of a historical event.
At the age of 33, do you feel the demands of the three different competitions greater than others?
Ze Roberto's body tells him when he's in need of a break
Yes, I feel the demands even more intensely today than I did when I was 25 years old or 20. As I said, I feel good, but my body lets me know when I need a break. On the other hand, my experience as a player helps. I know better what I need to do to recover. I hear my body, I count on my experience and I think more like a professional than I did when I was younger. Only thinking like this has allowed me to play longer at this high level.
Is this Bayern Munich team the best you have ever played for?
No, the best team was the national team of Brazil. Now if the question refers to club level, I must answer with a very strong "yes." This team, Bayern Munich, is fantastic. We are very strong as a group and we have in the players who can make a difference in every game. To be allowed to play with Ribery, Luca Toni or Klose is very motivating. There is always the desire to win everything. This team emits such strength that we come to the stadium not only to play soccer, but also to defeat the opponent.