Kevin Strootman told ligue1.com a win against LOSC Lille on Sunday would be "a big step" for Olympique de Marseille in their quest to secure a top-two finish in Ligue 1 Conforama this season.
ligue1.com: It was a setback against Lyon, but it's been a fantastic season so far for Marseille. You're in second place, you are unbeaten in 13 league matches. The dressing room must be a pretty happy place right now?
Kevin Strootman: Not straight after the defeat to Lyon it isn't. When you lose a game, even if it's after 15 games, it's never a good feeling. But the league is more important to us. But this game [against Lyon] was important to us because if you want to win something in France, you have to focus on the cups, because it's unthinkable to win something with Paris in the same league. The best you can do is finish in second place. We're in the race for second, we're doing well. It was a little setback [against Lyon], but we have to focus on Sunday's game. It's a really important game. If we can get a good result there, we can take a big step.
WATCH: What happened when Marseille hosted Lille this season
ligue1.com: It will be a key game against a Lille side that's going pretty well too.
Strootman: They're a strong team. It's going to be a good game. We beat them at home, but we've seen in recent years that it's difficult to go there and get a result. They have a strong team with fast players, technical players. So we have to prepare ourselves well, recover well, and be ready for that match.
ligue1.com: Coming into this season, did you expect this Marseille squad to be this good?
Strootman: We know we have a good team, good players. But to get a result in this league is very difficult, because you don't have a single match that is easy. Every game is difficult, but we're getting good results. The coach knows us very well. He knows what we need. If we listen to him, we are ready for the games tactically and physically. We're on the right track, but we have to keep going. There are still a lot of games left, a lot of points to be won, so we have to try and get as many as we can. I hope we start with that on Sunday.
ligue1.com: What has the coach done to turn a side that finished fifth last season and missed out on Europe into a team that is on course to play in the Champions League next season?
Strootman: He prepares us very well, physically, menatlly and tactically, that's the importatnt thing. He really gives us confidence, that's a good thing. We know we have a small squad, because some players left, but we have also bought some strong players. But we have a small squad, I hope we don't get a lot of suspensions and injuries, and we can achieve something. We're still missing Thauvin, he's important for us. He'll give us different options, so we're waiting for him. Until he comes back, we need to do well and get some good results.