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24.10.2016DFB-Pokal

Our next opponents: SF Lotte

These opponents are anything but an unknown quantity for the Werkself. Last season saw Sportfreunde Lotte and Bayer 04 meet in the first round of the DFB Cup.
© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

Bayer 04 ran out 3-0 winners against Lotte, then in the Regional League, with goals from Stefan Kießling, Hakan Calhanoglu and Lars Bender. The side coached by Ismail Atalan is now in the leading group in the third division – and deservedly so. Read on for the lowdown on DFB Cup opposition.

Position

Lotte have made an outstanding start as a newly promoted team. After twelve games, they are in fourth place and the 1-0 victory against Preußen Münster at the weekend was the sixth win of the season. The euphoria after winning the Regional League to gain promotion has almost perfectly dovetailed with life in the league above. Goalkeeper Benedikt Fernandez is determined keep a level head. “We can’t afford to get carried away and our primary aim is to avoid relegation.”

Personnel

Lotte’s 31-year-old keeper, one of four former Leverkusen players, has been a crowd favourite and a reliable shot-stopper for Sportfreunde for years and he is one of the best goalkeepers in the league. “I would have preferred to face a different opponent as Bayer 04 are an extremely difficult team to beat,” said Fernandez, who played for the Werkself from 2000 to 2011. The Lotte captain and defensive stalwart Gerrit Nauber played for youth teams and the reserve side at Bayer 04 until joining Sportfreunde Lotte in 2012. The same applies to André Dej and Alexander Hettich, who was in the Bayer 04 U19 team that beat Bayern Munich in extra time to win the 2007 German league title.

Potential

“Lotte are a strong opponent. We know we face a tough challenge,” said Bayer 04 coach Roger Schmidt after the second-round draw. Werder Bremen have already suffered at the hands of the team from the 14,000-strong community of Lotte-Osnabrück this term. Lotte made the headlines in round one of the DFB Cup with a 2-1 victory against Werder. The team knows they can beat opponents from the top flight, possibly making them a dangerous proposition for Bayer 04.

Problems

There are no signs of any major issues at Lotte at the moment. The league campaign is going well and now there is the bonus of a cup match for Sportfreunde with the visit of the Werkself attracting a full house of 10,000 at the Frimo Stadium. If there is one point of concern for the Lotte coach Atalan then it is perhaps the conversion rate up front. “Sometimes we lack the cutting-edge to finish our attacks better,” he said after the recent 1-1 draw at VfR Aalen.

Prediction

Lotte just missed out on moving up to the third division over the past few years as in 2013 when they lost in the play-offs to RB Leipzig. After finishing as runners-up three times and twice winning the Regional League, the club is now in the third tier of German professional football. Indications are it will not be a brief stay. Much has happened at the club since promotion: a new stand has been built and that provides substantially more room for sponsors.

© Bayer 04 Leverkusen Fussball GmbH

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