The respect that is held for the assumed favorite is significant, even though two divisions separate Borussia Mönchengladbach and 1. FC Saarbrücken. This is a testament to the level of competition and sportsmanship present in football.
The two clubs are set to face each other in the quarter-finals of the DFB Cup this Wednesday, with the match being broadcasted at 8.45 p.m. on ZDF and Sky. Gerardo Seoane, the coach of Gladbach, has kept his team selection for the upcoming match under wraps, choosing not to divulge any information about it a day before the game. This strategic move builds anticipation and intrigue.
Except for Jonas Omlin and Tomas Cvancara, who are unfortunately dealing with long-term injuries, all other players participated in the final training session on Tuesday. This includes Ko Itakura, the Japanese international player who has recently returned to Mönchengladbach after being eliminated from the Asian Cup. Despite his return, Seoane has refrained from announcing whether the central defender will be named in the squad against FCS or even included in the starting line-up. According to the Swiss coach, there are still “one or two question marks,” and he states that “of course we won’t resolve this yet.”
The Saarbrücken team, who currently holds the twelfth position in the third division – similar to Gladbach’s position in the Bundesliga – have earned their respect through their previous impressive performances in the cup. Coach Rüdiger Ziehl’s squad has already successfully eliminated three higher-ranked teams: the second division team Karlsruher SC (2:1), the record cup winners Bayern Munich (2:1), and Eintracht Frankfurt (2:0).
“We’re facing an opponent who has rightfully earned their place in this competition thus far,”
Gerardo Seoane, Coach of Borussia Mönchengladbach, commenting on the third division club Saarbrücken
Seoane has acknowledged the strength of the opponent, stating, “We know that they defend very well.” The Gladbachers previously visited Saarbrücken during the summer for season preparation, where the Bundesliga team emerged victorious with a 2-1 win.
The upcoming game holds significance for the Gladbachers as they aim to reach the semi-finals for the first time since 2017. As for the Saarbrücken team, they don’t have to look too far back for their last semi-finals appearance, which was in 2020 when they were still a regional league team. After achieving victories over, among others, the two first division teams 1. FC Köln and Fortuna Düsseldorf, the FCS unfortunately fell short against Bayer Leverkusen.
Securing a win against Gladbach will serve as a crucial step forward for the traditional club. Hartmut Ostermann, the president and financier of the club, believes it would enable 1. FC Saarbrücken “to invest in infrastructure, which in the long term is certainly the best way to get into the second division.”
Reaching the semi-finals alone comes with a bonus of 3.45 million euros, a sum of considerable value, especially for a team like Saarbrücken. The team’s advance to the last four in 2020 was a saving grace for FCS, as Ostermann recalls, “because we were able to limit our losses from the Corona period.”
“We are the blatant outsiders because it cannot be assumed that Gladbach underestimates us. But like against Bayern or Frankfurt, there are days when you surpass yourself,” said Saarbrücken’s president before the game in the sold-out Ludwigsparkstadion. “We try to make our fans happy year after year. We succeeded in the cup, and at some point it should work in the league too.”