The quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal kick off on Tuesday afternoon as Jahn Regensburg hosts Werder Bremen at the Jahnstadion Regensburg.
Regensburg had to beat Bundesliga opposition to get to this stage, and they did in remarkable fashion. Going down 2-0 in their round of 16 matchup against Koln, Die Jahnelf seemed like they were done for. However, a scorching volley from Scott Kennedy and a close range finish from Jan George leveled the scores before halftime.
That’s when the game tensed up. Koln had a great chance to retake the lead when they were awarded a penalty late on, but Emmanuel Dennis’ attempt was saved by Alexander Meyer. The tie ultimately went to a shootout, and a miss from Jannes-Kilian Horn set the stage for Max Besuschkow to slot home and send Regensburg to the next round.
Bremen’s round of 16 matchup was a much simpler affair. At home against 2. Bundesliga side Greuther Furth, Die Grün-Weißen took an early lead after Kevin Mohwald pounced on a mistake from the goalkeeper to poke home from close range.
Just as it seemed like Furth were destined to grab an equalizer, Bremen scored a second to put the contest to bed. Hitting on the counter, some good work from Romano Schmid allowed Josh Sargent to set up Felix Agu for a simple finish at the back post.
Both sides will like their chances in this quarterfinal contest, which could lead to a thrilling affair.
Regensburg centerback Jan Elvedi, brother of Borussia Monchengladbach’s Nico Elvedi, will miss out through suspension, while fellow centerback Sebastian Nachreiner is a doubt for the fixture due to a muscle injury.
Bremen, on the other hand, will be without midfielder Patrick Erras and reserve goalkeepers Luca Plogmann and Michael Zetterer.
Jahn Regensburg: Meyer, Saller, Gimber, Kennedy, Beste, George, Gimber, Besuschkow, Stolze, Otto, Caliskaner
Werder Bremen: Pavlenka, Veljkovic, Toprak, Friedl, Gebre Selassie, Eggestein, Mohwald, Bittencourt, Agu, Sargent, Rashica
Ones to watch
One of the many heroes against Koln, Regensburg will likely need another big performance from Alexander Meyer if they want any hope of pulling off another upset.
The goalkeeper was huge in the aforementioned round of 16 matchup, saving a penalty during regulation before saving another in the shootout. He’s developed quite the habit of stopping spot kicks this season, as he saved the two penalties he’s faced in the league as well.
Meyer will have some extra motivation when up against Bremen, as he came up through the youth teams at bitter rivals Hamburg. He’s bounced around Germany at the professional level, playing for the likes of TSV Havelse, Energie Cottbus, and VfB Stuttgart before joining Regensburg. It seems like he’s finally settled down with Die Jahnelf, though, which is good news for both him and his club.
This contest will likely be a close one, and there’s always the chance that a shootout is needed to separate the two sides. If that does happen, Regensburg will hope that Meyer can step up to save the day once again.
Bremen’s star man Milot Rashica finally showed up this past weekend, demonstrating just how dangerous he can be when he’s at his best.
It had been an almost cursed season so far for Rashica. It started in the summer when he seemed destined for a move away, but one never came. He then got injured, which ruled him out for the first few months of the campaign. Just as he seemed set to return to the side, the winger was ruled out once again due to a different injury.
Rashica eventually recovered and was back in the team, but he struggled early on. Understandably rusty, he was a shell of himself, lacking pace and sharpness. He just wasn’t as dynamic as before, and some were starting to worry about the Kosovo international.
Those fears evaporated on Friday night, though. After taking a bit of time to grow into the game, Rashica was a livewire throughout. He got on the ball time and time again, constantly leading Bremen going forward.
His dribbling ability was on show as he danced past defenders on several occasions, opening up space all across the field. Rashica set up the equalizer, picking out Theodor Gebre Selassie with a clever pass in behind, and he could have been involved in even more goals if things just went a little bit differently.
It was a man of the match performance from Rashica which helped Bremen pull off the big win on the night. Now, the team will hope he can keep playing like this. If he does, the DFB-Pokal dream might just end up becoming a reality at the end of the season.
Last time out
It’s been over 16 years since these two sides last faced off as Bremen beat Regensburg 2-0 in the 1st round of the 2004-05 DFB-Pokal.
How to watch
The match won’t be broadcasted in the UK, but those in the United States will be able to watch the game on ESPN3.