#RWETSG Preview: “We have to win“

The first competitive game of the 2017/18 is just two days away. On Saturday, “Hoffe” have a first round DFB-Pokal tie at Rot-Weiß-Erfurt. Kick-off is at 18.30 (CEST). and Julian Nagelsmann look ahead to the match against the third division side.

Julian Nagelsmann on…

…the opposition:

We have been following Erfurt very carefully; we’ve watched all four of their league games. They have not created many chances but luck hasn’t been on their side either. I think they will play lots of long balls over the top and work hard on being first to the second ball. However I think they will also sit quite deep and let us have a lot of the ball. If that is the case then we’ll have to be creative and efficient, in order to create chances and score goals.

…the personnel:

Adam Szalai will definitely miss the Erfurt game. He took a knock to his calf and so it has kept him out longer than expected. He has been back in the team training sessions but right now he is just taking smaller steps to recovery. We will also be without Florian Grillitsch. He has been training with the first team since Wednesday and the athletic and rehabilitation training has not done him any damage but the Erfurt game has come too soon for him.  The outlook is better for Sandro Wagner. He will be available for selection, as will Kerem Demirbay and the U21 international players. They had a long and successful tournament but the burden was similar to that of a pre-season. They are able to play games every three days now. Gregor Kobel will start in goal. Oliver Baumann is being rested. It is just about managing everyone’s work load.

…the sporting situation:

We carried out our plan well in pre-season and we practiced all the parts we wanted to. We are a lot further ahead now than we were around this time last year. Everything is much more stable and we have taken a big step forward in terms of shifting defensively when we lose the ball. We will see on Saturday whether we can implement that strategy when we are under pressure. On the whole the tempo in training has been very high and I am really pleased with that. The pre-season friendlies were all ok but there was nothing to make me jump up from the bench with excitement.

…more on the sporting situation:

The squad will tell me today about our goals for the season in each competition. Last season I presented the targets for the season but this year I want the team to. I trust them a lot. If the goals aren’t as ambitious as I would like them to be, then I will adjust the objectives accordingly but I don’t see that happening with the structure and belief of this group. Whether they decide upon a target for each competition or an overall aim, I’ll find out later.

…further thoughts on the match:

Obviously we all have Liverpool on our minds and I don’t want that game to slip out of our minds. The boys know that to me Erfurt are just as important as Liverpool. If anyone convinces me against Erfurt, they could start against Liverpool and if people underperform, then they may not start in the playoff game. A good game in Erfurt would be a great preparation for the Liverpool game, even though they are two separate competitions. We are the favourites and we are travelling to Erfurt to win. We have to win.  That is our requirement. For Rot-Weiß, it is the biggest match of their year so they will be really up for the game. We want it to remain their game of the season which means stopping them from going any further in the competition.

Head-to-Head record:

It has been a long time since the last match between TSG and Rot Weiß. When Hoffenheim were still in the Regionalliga, the two teams met six times, with Erfurt coming out on top, winning three of those games. Twice the teams had to settle for a point a piece and TSG won once against the side from Thuringia. The fortunes of both sides are worlds apart now with TSG about to start their 10th season in the Bundesliga whilst Erfurt have had a patchy start to their season in the third division…

Rot Weiß Erfurt’s form:

Erfurt are back into the swing of things now. They have already played four games in the 3. Liga but the team coached by Stefan Krämer has not had a very successful start. The team has collected just two points from their opening four games, losing in Magdeburg and at home to Rostock. RWE have already tested their skills against a Bundesliga outfit this season, last week they faced Borussia Dortmund. They did lose the game 5-2 but at one stage they were drawing 2-2 against the DFB-Pokal champions.

The key battle:

Is the key to victory an early goal? As a general rule: the longer a team can hold out against a high-class opponent, the more courageous the underdog becomes. The focus for TSG in their first competitive game of the season should therefore be on their attack. If TSG can score one quick goal, or ideally two or three then it will sap the belief from the Erfurt players that they can cause an upset.


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