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Boys in Brown set for cup battle at Elversberg

So many things are different this year due to Covid-19, including the match schedule for the 2020/21 season. The Boys in Brown thus kick off the new campaign in the DFB Cup rather than the second division when they go to Saarland cup winners SV 07 Elversberg on Sunday (15:30 CET). The aim is clear: FC St. Pauli want to advance to the second round!

It is the club’s first outing to Saarland for a DFB Cup tie since Uli Maslo's side won 4-1 at FC Saarbrücken in the Round of 16 not quite 26 years ago in 1994. This time, with a place in the second round at stake, SV 07 Elversberg provide the opposition. The ambitious fourth-tier outfit are out to make life as hard as possible for the Boys in Brown and hope to cause an upset in front of some 500 spectators.

Fifteen years ago, it was our very own St. Pauli causing the upsets on their legendary 'B-team' cup run. In the thick of things in midfield back then was a certain Timo Schultz, who instead of taking to the field himself at Elversberg will be making his competitive debut on the touchline. “The DFB Cup is special,” said the head coach, who has just about a full squad at his disposal for Sunday’s encounter. “Every game can be your last. I know what makes this competition so appealing and I'm trying to drill it into the lads that it's a knockout game where everything’s up for grabs. I really want us to have a good cup run this season.”

The Boys in Brown go into the game well equipped, with the coaching team having run the rule over the fourth-tier outfit several times on video. "Elversberg work under professional conditions, so they're more like a third-division side, with a good mix of experienced and highly talented young players," said Schultz at the pre-match news conference before adding: "They’re a gutsy team who press the ball very aggressively on losing possession and will push us to the limit. We know what we're up against, but we also know what progress we've made in pre-season."

Captain Christopher Avevor took a similar line, saying: "We know how tough it'll be because it was a real battle at Lübeck last year. It'll be another battle at Elversberg, and we’ll have to be at our best if we want to win it." The Boys in Brown have progressed each time they have met fourth-tier opposition at this stage of the competition in recent years, albeit not without a struggle. They won 3-1 at Optik Rathenow in 2014, 3-0 at VfB Lübeck in 2016 and, in the tie mentioned by Avevor, drew 3-3 after extra-time at Lübeck last term before winning 4-3 in the penalty shootout.

The last time the Boys in Brown were knocked out of the DFB Cup by a fourth-tier side was in July 2011 when they lost 2-1 against Eintracht Trier. They will be desperate to avoid a repeat at Elversberg, and that will require a cohesive team performance against opponents they cannot afford to take lightly. New signing Leart Paqarada understands that all too well: "Elversberg will be straining at the leash," he said, "so we have to make sure we dampen their euphoria from the word go."

Photos: Witters/Eibner

 

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