Third-level Saarbrucken aims to continue their impressive cup journey on Wednesday by hosting Borussia Monchengladbach in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals.
The 3. Liga team has already knocked out Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt and now seeks to defeat another top-tier Bundesliga team.
After an outstanding win against Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal’s last 16, Saarbrucken beat the 2022 Europa League champions by scoring two goals from three shots on target at their home ground.
Following a thrilling last-minute goal in extra time to beat Bayern, Saarbrucken then defeated Frankfurt in December, thanks to goals from Kai Brunker and Luca Kerber in the second half.
Having eliminated the then seventh-placed Bundesliga team, Saarbrucken is ready for more action this week as they welcome another of Germany’s elite football clubs to Ludwigsparkstadion.
Notably, in 2020, they made headlines in the DFB-Pokal by becoming the first fourth-tier team to reach the semi-finals, overcoming Fortuna Dusseldorf in the quarters before being defeated by Bayer Leverkusen just shy of the final.
Since their victory over Frankfurt, Rudiger Ziehl’s team has lost only one match but sits 12th in the third tier, 20 points behind leaders Jahn Regensburg, after drawing 1-1 with Borussia Dortmund II last weekend.
Facing a less formidable opponent, Borussia Monchengladbach recognizes the German cup is now wide open, with only three Bundesliga teams left.
Hence, the three-time champions aim to claim their first trophy since 1995 when the final takes place in May.
Currently stuck in mid-table, Gerardo Seoane’s team has seen their slight chances for European competition fade after securing only one point from the last three matches, leaving them 10 points behind sixth-placed Frankfurt in the league standings.
With just 21 points from 20 league games this season, their lowest in over a decade, and no consecutive wins under Seoane, who took over in July last year, Gladbach’s recent 3-1 defeat to Bayern shows their struggle, especially away from home with only one win in 10 attempts. However, a narrow victory over Wolfsburg in the previous round might give them hope.
Saarbrucken DFB-Pokal form: W W W
Borussia Monchengladbach DFB-Pokal form: W W W
Borussia Monchengladbach form (all competitions): D L W L D L
Despite Ko Itakura’s return from the Asian Cup, Gladbach’s Gerard Seoane will miss Tomas Cvancara, Max Wober, Alassane Plea, and goalkeeper Jonas Omlin.
Rocco Reitz and Nathan Ngoumou might switch places with Manu Kone and Robin Hack on Wednesday, potentially pairing up with Jordan Pefok upfront.
Saarbrucken native Patrick Herrmann is hopeful to recover from a knee issue in time for the game.
Kai Brunker, Saarbrucken’s leading scorer, will play upfront at Ludwigsparkstadion.
Bone Uaferro, a former Germany Under-18 player, is expected to start in defense after missing the last game due to suspension. He was part of the Saarbrucken team that reached the semi-finals four years ago as a fourth-division team.
Patrick Schmidt, Sebastian Jacob, Richard Neudecker, and Dominik Becker are sidelined due to injuries.
Saarbrucken possible starting lineup:
Kerber, Zeitz, Uaferro, Gaus;
Gunther-Schmidt, Civeja, Rabihic, Sontheimer;
Borussia Monchengladbach possible starting lineup:
Scally, Friedrich, Elvedi;
Honorat, Neuhaus, Weigl, Kone, Netz;
Prediction: Saarbrucken 1-2 Borussia Monchengladbach (after extra time)
Given Gladbach’s defensive struggles in the Bundesliga, Saarbrucken has a real opportunity to pull off another upset and advance to the semi-finals.
In a match that could extend to extra time – a familiar scenario for both teams in this season’s competition – the visitors are likely to narrowly secure a spot in the final four.