The Werkself set off on Monday en route to the Swabian Alps with confidence, a spring in their step and being in the role of the favourites but the walking boots were left behind in Leverkusen. No wonder as the impressive form of the team lying sixth in the second division makes an idyllic evening walk along the banks of the Brenz highly unlikely. Instead, it is up to the big club to make the running – above all to keep on course for the DFB Cup final in Berlin. Read on for 04 facts on #FCHB04…
There is always a first time. And the visually impaired footballer Serdal Celebi made that possible for the Werkself at the Round of 16 draw at the beginning of November. Bayer 04 are set to play the first competitive match against the football club from Baden-Württemberg founded in 1846 – and who knows – perhaps the match will provide a taster of a possible meeting in the top flight…. In the first two rounds, FCH came through against the Regional League side SSV Jedelloh II (5-2) and relegation– threatened division two rivals SV Sandhausen (3-0). The team coached by Frank Schmidt, who has been at the helm for eleven years, are in the Round of 16 for the third time in the past five years. One or two big clubs can only dream of that…
Heidenheim have struggled against teams from the top flight: Seven out of eight ties have ended with the Bundesliga team showing FCH they have reached the end of the road – probably a cause of much relief to the visitors. Only once have they caused a cup upset at their own ground, known as the Voith Arena since 2010 with a capacity of 15,000. The then third division side beat Werder Bremen 2-1 in the First Round in 2011/12. Statistics taken to heart at Leverkusen with a knowing nod. The Werkself have often spoiled the party at away games in the recent past – with the exception of the slip up at Lotte two years ago. That can happen in the cup. However, that was the only time in the past 14 away DFB Cup ties. Last October saw a fantastic 5-0 victory at Borussia Mönchengladbach and hopefully that can be repeated now against Heidenheim. It could well be that FCH receive the same message at the end of tonight's game.
It is well known the DFB Cup is a competition in its own right. But that does not mean that confidence can't be taken from the bread and butter games in the league. And that is certainly there after the last two games with two wins and six goals to celebrate – against teams in the top six of the league from Wolfsburg and Munich. That is an average of three goals per game and clearly shows the Black and Reds are on fire. And that is a good starting point for the Bosz team to extend their success on the road in the cup. Against Heidenheim, Bayer 04 could hit the back of the net for the 25th time in succession in away games since August 2007 – an average of 3.1 per game (the total of 74 goals). But Heidenheim also have an impressive stat – FCH have scored 18 goals (3.6 per game) in the last five cup ties and last season the only time they failed to score more than one goal was against the eventual DFB Cup winners Eintracht Frankfurt in a 2-1 defeat after extra time in the Round of 16. Not bad at all!… And beyond that contrary to the clichéd characteristics of supposed Swabian skinflints. So now it is a question of whether the Werkself can succeed in carrying on an away run in the cup that has seen clean sheets in the past 04 away games in the competition...
As mentioned at the start, this is the first time the Werkself will face Heidenheim. It is even more remarkable there are quite a number of acquaintances on the pitch: For example, Karim Bellarabi may very well have a reunion with the Heidenheim defender Norman Theuerkauf who he played alongside in 50 games for Eintracht Braunschweig. Kevin Volland and FCH striker Denis Thomalla know each other from the Germany U18 and U19 teams. Jonathan Tah and Julian Brandt also know Heidenheim midfielder Maurice Hulthaupt from the Germany youth teams and that also applies to Sam Schreck and Heidenheim's Niklas Dorsch. Beyond that, there are two Leverkusen players who have fond memories of the Voith Arena in Heidenheim: Mitchell Weiser provided two assists for his former club Hertha Berlin in a 3-2 victory in the 2015/16 quarter-finals, and Lukas Hradecky was in goal for Eintracht Frankfurt when they beat FCH in extra-time last season. So, same again please – preferably without extra-time…
Previous result: –
Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)
Weather forecast: -1 degree, overcast
Live TV broadcaster: Sky
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