Our next opponents: Hammer blow inspires hope

At last, another cup tie at the BayArena! The Werkself are at home in the DFB Cup on Tuesday night (29 October, 20.45 CET) for the first time in 18 months. The second round opponents have already played at Leverkusen this season – and SC Paderborn demonstrated their ability to compete on equal terms despite being bottom of the table. The lowdown on our next opponents.
Leopold Zingerle


The opening match for SCP at Leverkusen was, to a certain extent, a taster of how the Baumgart team will fare in each game this season: a courageous performance with some good moves in attack but ending up empty-handed. The rank outsiders at the start of the season have been able to compete with teams other than Bayer 04 as they always attempt to play attractive and attacking football. Scoring more goals than the opposition succeeded last Saturday. A brilliant long-range hammer blow from Abdelhamid Sabiri put Paderborn on course for victory against Fortuna Düsseldorf and the 2-0 victory was the first win of the season and that gives the team from East Westphalia renewed hope. SCP are still bottom of the table but have closed the gap to the teams above. The only other win this season for Paderborn came in the DFB Cup: At the end of a crazy match in the first round, Gjasula & Co. beat Regional League side Rödinghausen 7-5 on penalties to put them through to the next round at the BayArena.


Coach Steffen Baumgart has a big and balanced squad. Accordingly, the coach often rotates his starting line-up and he has already had four different players start up front in Sven Michel, Streli Mamba, Babacar Gueye and Ben Zolinski. Only the two central midfielders Sebastian Vasiliadis and Klaus Gjasula have started every game so far. Baumgart has also recently changed goalkeeper with new signing Jannik Huth making way for the promotion keeper Leopold Zingerle (pictured above) who produced an impressive performance against Fortuna. He has also changed the 4-4-2 formation that Paderborn played at Leverkusen on matchday one to a 4-2-3-1 system and against Düsseldorf a 4-3-3 line-up for the first time. There's not just a large tactical repertoire: In contrast to many other Bundesliga teams, Paderborn have almost a full squad to choose from in spite of the packed fixture list: Only the defensive stalwart Uwe Hünemeier is definitely ruled out of the game against Bayer 04 due to a torn ligament.


The loss of Hünemeier affects an already evident weak spot in the squad: the defence. Paderborn have already conceded 22 goals this season. In part, that is down to their attacking approach but also a lack of experience in defence. After Hünemeier's absence, Baumgart has put his usual partner and captain Christian Strohdiek on the bench. The central defensive partnership recently has been the homegrown player Sebastian Schonlau and new signing Luca Kilian. The pair have made seven Bundesliga appearances and the keeper Zingerle three to date. At the same time: Paderborn kept a clean sheet for the first time this season against Düsseldorf and Schonlau scored to make it 2-0.


Over recent seasons, Paderborn have followed a policy of giving players from lower leagues a chance. Left-winger Christopher Antwi-Adjei was playing in Sprockhövel two and half years ago; Zolinski was in Neustrelitz three years ago, Mamba played for SV Sandhausen reserves – and Kai Pröger, scorer against FC Bayern, was at Regional League Rot-Weiß Essen at the start of the year. It's clear that Paderborn cannot attract talented youngsters from across Germany due to financial reasons. The potential that SCP have exploited for years has its own charm and a certain romanticism: A team with numerous players, who have developed away from academies, flying under the radar at the top age for a player – and then ending up in the Bundesliga.


Not only the management at Paderborn would hardly be surprised if the second Bundesliga season in the club's history ends with a second relegation. For a club, who were only in the Regional League two and a half years ago, promotion was like having the chance to play in the Champions League. However, the team from East Westphalia should not be written off. SCP showed against Bayer 04 and the supposedly mighty FC Bayern that they can compete to the end and pose a threat to any opponent with their carefree style of play – including the Werkself on Tuesday night.


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