U19s eagerly anticipate visit of Real Madrid

Marcel Rapp and Benjamin Wallquist, the coach and captain of the U19s, were given a small foretaste of what lies ahead on Monday morning. Several media representatives crammed into the small conference room at the Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion, where they assembled cameras and microphones and asked all kinds of questions about the UEFA Youth League quarter-final meeting with Real Madrid, which is set to take place on Wednesday evening.

As the small media meeting was taking place, the groundman was attending to the pitch. It all needs to be perfect for the biggest match in the young academy's history (live on Sport1 and via stream at from 17:55 CET). "It'll be a very special day for the TSG Academy," said Youth Coordinator Dirk Mack. One journalist wanted to know whether there would be a reward in the event of a win. "The match is the reward. The lads have given everything to get here and they absolutely deserve this match."

Real Madrid. It's a name that instantly commands great respect. It is certainly no coincidence that the Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion is sold out for the first time since 2008 – and it has been for more than a week already. "We're underdogs and we're happy to assume this role," said Rapp. Wallquist admitted: "It's a famous name. Games like this are the reason we started to play football as kids."


Awe, yes; subservience, no. The red carpet is not going to be rolled out when the Real Madrid team bus pulls up outside the stadium. "We won't hide," promises Wallquist, who cites the three Fs – "Freunde, Familie, Fernsehen" (family, friends, television) – that will give him and his team-mates a motivational boost. "We want to offer something to everyone and naturally we're hoping for great support."

Meanwhile, his coach said that they have been approaching it as though it is a game like any other. "We've looked at the video material, looked at the opposition, tried to get an idea of the way they like to play, adapted our own ideas accordingly and tried to convey this to the lads," he explained. The newly certified tactician still has two more training sessions "to test out a couple of things".

The U19s, bolstered by reinforcements in the form of three U20 players, have proven to be a tough nut to crack for the top European clubs in the UEFA Youth League this term. "We have a bunch of internationals in our ranks who have played games at this level and in front of a large audience," emphasised Rapp. "Nerves will not be a factor. However, one thing is clear: we are TSG and they're Real. They do not bring through youth players just so they can compete in the Spanish top flight; they do so because they want to win the Champions League."


Aside from Tobias Heiland (torn cruciate ligament) and Enes Tubluk, who sustained a medial collateral ligament injury in the Dynamo Kiev match, Rapp has a full squad at his disposal. There were no goals in that meeting with the Ukrainians until the penalty shootout. "We didn't specially practise for that [penalties] at the time and we haven't now either. Firstly, we have a good goalkeeper; secondly, we have good takers; thirdly, you can't recreate the pressure situation."

There will be no return leg. A victory for TSG would take them straight into the semi-finals, where they would face the winner of the meeting between FC Porto and FC Midtjylland in the Swiss municipality of Nyon on 26 April. The final will take place in the same location three days later.

"We're ruling nothing out," said a confident Rapp, who said that he certainly won't enjoy the Real Madrid match. "This is our job. The sense of enjoyment may come in hindsight. We'll only be satisfied if the performances of all the players on the pitch reflect their true potential." Youth coordinator Mack added: "If we get the right result, I won't mind too much about anything else."

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Youth League quarter-final
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs. Real Madrid
Wednesday at 18:00 CET, Dietmar-Hopp-Stadion
(live on Sport1 and via stream at

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