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16.04.2018DFB-Pokal

'We have to play the perfect game'

Anticipation for the DFB Cup semi-final has been growing since the draw at the start of February. The big match is tomorrow 17 April, 20.45 CET). And just in time for the knockout tie against the former and new champions of Germany Bayern Munich, Heiko Herrlich's team are on a roll – with two 4-1 wins within six days. "After two extremely important wins in the league, we can now focus on the Cup," said Bayer 04 sporting director Rudi Völler as he made a clear prediction: "We're playing against one of the best teams in Europe. But we'll put up a good fight against Bayern."
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Heiko Herrlich showed similar motivation at the pre-match press conference ahead of the Bayern game. “A cup game like this is different from the league where you have the chance to pick up points a week later if you lose. Tomorrow it’s just about going through. There you have to be prepared as a player and as a team to give your all,” said the Werkself coach on Monday afternoon.

Herrlich CALLS FOR courage and clinical finishing

At the same time, there is no doubt about who the favourites are and the great quality of the serial champions of the past six years. For that reason, Heiko Herrlich said to the assembled journalists that he did not want to “bore them by talking about all that again.” Herrlich sees the recent results of the Champions League semi-finalists as impressive and expression of the outstanding form of the Munich team: “At the weekend they managed to beat Mönchengladbach 5-1 with a B team. Before that they won 4-1 at Augsburg and secured a 6-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund – and in between they knocked Sevilla out of the Champions League.” The Bayer 04 coach takes the appropriate view: “We have to play the perfect game to go through.”

In front of a full house, the Werkself have a chance to demonstrate their progress – particularly in relation to the two league meetings with Bayern. Back in August last year there was a 3-1 defeat in Munich and the same result came in the opening match of the second half of the season in January at the BayArena. “We played pretty well twice and in both the away and home games we had phases where we got into the final third but were unable to take our chances. And when we didn’t have the ball there were phases when we defended very well and were in the game,” recalled Herrlich before adding: “I hope we can do that for 90 minutes tomorrow.” Over the past week his team has shown they have made progress. “We’ve suffered a couple of setbacks this season. I think the team is solid: On Saturday we finally managed to beat a team from the top six in the game against Frankfurt. And, at the same time, we succeeded – after a performance like in Leipzig – to maintain our hunger, stand up to the pressure and get back on the front foot,” said Herrlich full of praise. For tomorrow’s meeting, he believes it is important to play with courage and work as a team to counter the opposition strengths and deal with their key players (“As far as that is possible against Bayern Munich”). To come out on top against the overwhelming power of Bayern, his team needs the necessary courage and the clinical finishing in front of goal shown over the past week: “If we get a chance up front then we have to make sure we take it.”

Alario back on board

With the exception of Wendell (ankle) and Joel Pohjanpalo (rehab after ankle injury), Heiko Herrlich has his full squad available. Jonathan Tah, who suffered a problem in the warm-up ahead of the Frankfurt game on Saturday, will probably recover in time to be an option. The same applies to Lucas Alario who has watched from the sidelines due to a three-match ban in the league. “A couple of players have picked up knocks but I’m very optimistic,” said Herrlich who also announced his intention to field his “best possible team.” He also said Bayer 04 did not have the same possibilities as the record champions with the “luxury” of resting or leaving out “top players like Lewandowski, Ribery and Robben.”

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