Werder Bremen’s Argentine striker Franco Di Santo is taking the Bundesliga by storm. He spoke with DW about the image of German football overseas and Bayern’s dominance of the domestic league.
DW: Firstly, congratulations! Your season is going very well with Werder Bremen. You have already scored 12 goals and you are currently the top performing player from Latin America in the Bundesliga. What's the reason for your success?
Franco Di Santo: I think that there are a number of reasons why things are going so well. Everything always works better if you feel at ease at your club, if you get on well with your teammates and if things are going well on the home front too. I wouldn't be going so well, if the rest of my team were struggling. Sometimes I really believe that the success I am having right now doesn't really have anything to do with me, but it is due to all the players making it possible.
Times like these are a bit new at Werder Bremen. Earlier this season, the side struggled. How did you get through those times?
I never doubted us. I saw the quality of the players who were playing beside me and I just felt I had to keep a positive frame of mind. The team helped me to believe in us, and what we were working towards, too. This group always helped me to give my best. Now we are enjoying the good times, together.
Do you have the feeling that the only thing that matters these days in the Bundesliga is Bayern Munich?
Overseas many people are convinced that the Bundesliga only survives because of the Bayern games. But that is completely wrong. The other teams in Germany are definitely not bad. The problem is: Bayern is just playing on another level right now. They have a very good team and things are a bit special there at the moment. To be honest: if Bayern played in the Premier League they would win that as well. Or they would definitely challenge for the title.
Doesn't this situation still portray a warped image of the German league?
Of course. Many people look at the Bundesliga and see that Bayern have an 11 point lead over the second-placed team, Wolfsburg. They say: "God, those other teams are hopeless." But that is not the case. The other teams are also in great shape. If you don't believe that, look at the international achievements of Schalke or Leverkusen this season. Schalke went to Spain to play Real Madrid, the current Champions League winners, and they won the game. It was only because of Iker Casillas that Real managed to get through to the quarterfinals. Also, Leverkusen had a convincing win against Atletico Madrid. Atletico was in the Champions League final last year!
Is German football underrated outside of the country?
The Bundesliga is sometimes a bit underrated. Many fans overseas are of the opinion that all teams, aside from Bayern, are pretty average. That's wrong unfortunately. The Bundesliga is a very competitive and exciting league. I'm proud to be part of it.
Have you experienced situations where you have had to defend the German league?
It's not that I have had to defend it, sometimes I just had to explain things a bit. I always say that Germany has no reason to be looking over its shoulder at other leagues. Often people are so focused on the Premier League as an example, as it is so popular. But that has less to do with an actual difference in quality. It's more due to the fact that the Premier League has had a marketing advantage for decades.
Do you think that the Bundesliga will manage to improve its reputation in the near future?
Since 2013, when Dortmund played Bayern in the final of the Champions League, foreign fans started to realize the level of play in the Bundesliga. For German football it is very important that lots of people overseas are able to follow the Bundesliga. That way the fans can learn to understand the league better, and they won't only think of Bayern Munich.
And if the fans do watch it overseas, they'll be able to see you realize your goals here too. What exactly are they at the moment?
In the short term I would like to get back into the Argentina national team. In order to do that, I need to keep putting in good performances here in Bremen so that we end the season in a good position. I would like to get more experience on the international stage too, and would like to play in European competition. Bremen is close to qualifying for the Europa League. We can achieve it if we work step-by-step. We need to stay grounded, but we also should remain confident that we can achieve a lot if we play to our potential.
Werder Bremen's 25-year-old striker Franco Di Santo, has played a major role in the club's turnaround this season. His 12 goals so far this campaign have come in just 17 matches. Di Santo's game is characterized by a high level of technical skill and speed and the striker has a contract with Werder until June 30 2016.