Cup clash brings family rivalry

Melissa Friedrich (22) has played for the Bayer 04 Bundesliga women's team since 2016, Marvin Friedrich (24) joined Union Berlin at the start of this season. Tonight, their clubs not only meet in the DFB Cup Round of 16 tie at the BayArena (18.30 CET) but it also brings a reunion of the siblings. We spoke to them ahead of the game…

Your two clubs are nearly 600 kilometres apart – when did you last manage to see each other before this game?
We saw each other two weeks ago.
Melissa: That's right, I visited Marvin when Bayer 04 were away at Union.
Marvin: We see each other more often in the summer and winter breaks. Or, if there is an international break, we both go home to Kassel. Otherwise, we keep in contact quite a lot and write to each as well.

Two siblings playing in the top flight – that doesn't happen very often. Did you ever think that would happen?
I don't think anybody could count on that. We just worked for it. I went from the the Schalke youth set-up to Augsburg. It didn't go so well for me there and then I moved on to Union Berlin where I've really been able to find my way in the Bundesliga.
Melissa: To be honest, I didn't think that would happen either. I had a similar experience: I was in the youth team at FFC Frankfurt and although I did manage to move up to the first team I never got much time on the pitch. When I came to Leverkusen I was straight into the Bundesliga team. Apart from my current injury (torn cruciate, ed.), which is progressing really well, everything has been pretty good up to now.

Looking back at how you started in football – did you play football together when you were children?
Yes, definitely. We've got an older brother and a younger sister and we all played together back then. We had two big goals in the garden and it was always football for us rather than any other sport. Nobody thought back then that two of us would actually end up playing in the Bundesliga.

Do you watch each other's games if you can fit it in?
It's a bit difficult for me because Melissa's games are rarely broadcast. If there is one on TV then I'll watch it. Otherwise I follow her games on live text commentary and I'm always happy when she plays and wins.
Melissa: I try to watch every Union game. Even when I'm playing away for the women's team, I watch the matches on my mobile. If I get the chance, I always try to go to the games.




Do you analyse each other's games afterwards? Is there criticism, praise or tips?
We congratulate each other if things go well. But there is no great analysis. We're quick to talk about other subjects.

Now your two clubs meet in the cup. Will it be a special game for the two of you?
It will be for me! It's a home game for me and that's something special. I can walk to the stadium.
Marvin:  After the draw, I thought my sister would come and watch us at the stadium. Of course, it's great to be in the quarter-finals but playing Leverkusen of all people doesn't make the game any more special for me. It's a game like any other that we want to win. I would have preferred to have been at home but that makes Melissa even happier.
Melissa:  Absolutely! And this time I was able to get the tickets myself otherwise Marvin has to do it (she laughs)

Marvin, this is the third time Union have played the Werkself this season – you were on the losing side both times but only just in the last match. How do you think the game will turn out and what can the Werkself expect?
At home, we played well up to the 80th minute against Bayer 04. We know it'll be a bit more difficult for us away from home. But you could see that we can cause problems for Leverkusen too. Now it's a cup game: win or lose – there aren’t any draws. Obviously we're going to Leverkusen with the attitude of wanting to get through to the semi-finals. Any which way!

Melissa, hand on heart: Who are you really crossing your fingers for tomorrow? Your club or your brother's?
I'm torn both ways. Of course, I’ve really got my fingers crossed for my brother and I will wear a Union shirt with Friedrich on the back.
Marvin: That's probably more of a Friedrich shirt than a Union shirt… (he smiles)
That's right. I'm not a Union Berlin fan but I am a fan of my brother. For me, tomorrow's game is one where I can be happy whichever team goes through. So I can only be a winner!


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