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The Boys in Brown play host to FC Heidenheim in the opening home game of the 2020/21 campaign on Sunday (13:30 CET). For head coach Timo Schultz, the visit of last season’s Bundesliga play-off finalists marks his competitive debut at the Millerntor. On Friday morning, Schulle looked ahead to the challenge at the pre-match media conference.

Timo Schultz on…

...the personnel situation: "A number of players are pushing hard for a place, not just the substitutes at Bochum but also other lads who’ve been going flat out in training and aren’t far away. For the starting lineup that means there are a lot of players in contention who are champing at the bit, which is how a battle for places should be. It’s nice for me to have just about everyone in training apart from the two or three long-term absentees. That’s exactly what you want as a coach. The Bochum game showed we can add quality from the bench. The lads who came on really livened things up."

...injured strike pairing Simon Makienok and Borys Tashchy: "We'll await the last two training sessions before we make a decision. Both of them could play, but we'll have to wait and see what shape they're in and weigh up the risk of them suffering a setback. After the final session on Saturday, we’ll decide whether we include one or both of them in the squad."

...lessons learned from the Bochum game: "Heidenheim play a different kind of football than Bochum. They have a very dynamic style of play and like to get the frontmen involved straightaway. The first task for us will be to control the zone in front of our defence and then get forward with more pace and resolve on winning possession. That’s where we can improve the most. Our counterattacking at Bochum wasn’t always good. We also want to put more pressure on the ball up front and force our opponents into mistakes in their build-up play."

...the mood in the camp: "The mood is one of relaxed concentration, the lads are focused. We have 25, 26 lads in training who all want to play. After the setbacks at Bochum, when we conceded twice even though we weren’t playing badly, the players put in a really high-energy performance. That was the result of a lot of hard work in pre-season, when they stayed focused, maintained their belief in themselves and put any setbacks behind them. It’s a hallmark of this team that they’re all there for one another."

Head coach Timo Schultz and assistant Loïc Favé keep a close eye on things in training.

Head coach Timo Schultz and assistant Loïc Favé keep a close eye on things in training.

...FC Heidenheim: "They only narrowly lost out in the play-off last season. They’ve lost some key players but on the other hand, they’ve also bought well. They’re a very physical, extremely quick side who topped the sprint rankings last year. They’ll push us to the limit, that’s for sure. It’s always fun to play Heidenheim because you always know what you’re up against. Heidenheim are a pro-active team who like to get forward and score goals."

...the first home game in front of a crowd since March: "I’m always happy when fans are in the ground even if there’ll only be just over 2,000 to begin with. It’s a start. I hardly notice them during the game because I’m totally focused on what’s happening on the pitch, I’m in the zone, so I don’t really take in the atmosphere. I’d be delighted if we can celebrate with the fans after the game, of course."


Photos: Witters