DFB-Pokal: Bochum relies on home strength against Dortmund

Hans-Peter Villis was out and about in Mainz on the last weekend in January. His club played for the 05ers in the Bundesliga on Saturdays, but the trip to Rheinhessen turned out to be a minor disaster for the VfL Bochum chairman in two respects.

“I drove my car into a ditch near the stadium, and then we’ll get five more,” Villis reported of the two unpleasant experiences in the carnival stronghold. When VfL had just turned around the 2:5 of Mainz in the home game against Hoffenheim.

On the one hand, the Revierklub has won all five home games since the arrival of new coach Thomas Letsch at the end of September. But on the flip side of the coin is: With 46 goals conceded in 19 games, VfL has the worst defense in the league. Trainer Letsch has not yet tackled this cardinal problem in the long term.

Before joining, Bochum conceded 2.71 goals per game. Since the native Swabian has been wielding the scepter on Castroper Straße, the average has been pushed down rather subtly to 2.25.

The visit of the recently downright goal-happy neighbor Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday evening (from 8:15 p.m. live on ZDF) in the DFB Cup will be the ultimate acid test for VfL in view of this blatant weakness in defense. The blue-white home power welcomes the black-yellow to the round of 16, and at least board boss Villis sounds: “I am firmly convinced that we will win.”

The head of the bank in charge takes a more realistic approach. “It’s clear who the favorite is,” Letsch carefully rolled out the red carpet for Borussia, who have won four times this year. In his opinion, however, this also applies:

In any case, everyone involved is well aware of the original flair of the Bochum Arena in the midst of the many high-gloss stadiums in the country. “It’s very, very compact. It’s going to be a heated atmosphere,” predicts Dortmund’s sporting director Sebastian Kehl. While Letsch says almost affectionately about the VfL Arena: “This is a niche, it’s something special.”

For personal entry a week earlier, however, it was a 0: 4 at premier class representative Leipzig. And apart from the 1-0 win in Augsburg, there were usually hefty bankruptcies in Stuttgart, Wolfsburg, Dortmund, Leverkusen and Mainz.

It was not without reason that Letsch looked for reinforcements for the defense during the winter break – and received them with the central defenders Keven Schlotterbeck (borrowed from Freiburg) and Mohammed Tolba (own youth).

Mainly thanks to his team’s much more passionate, braver and more effective game in front of a home crowd, Letsch has lifted Bochum from 18th to 15th place. Accordingly, according to Anthony Losilla, the team is now looking forward to the “bonus game” in the national cup.

“Anything can happen” in Bochum, captain Losilla believes. And newcomer Keven Schlotterbeck explains why before the cup duel with his brother Nico: Because we have the ability to beat anyone at home.”