Preview: Chemnitzer FC – FC Bayern

Justin Separator August 10, 2017
(Photo: Alexander Hassenstein / Bongarts / Getty Images)

For the best possible gauge of what the upcoming opponent is like, we’ve invited an expert. Markus Herwig is a journalist and works for Sportschau and Telekom Sport, among other things. He is part of the sports programme “Sport im Osten” on MDR, which is why he is well-acquainted with Chemnitzer FC.

Hello, Markus. This weekend, Chemnitzer FC will play against FC Bayern. What was your initial thought when you heard about it?

I was very happy for the fans in this part of Germany who follow Chemnitz. For a lower-league team, there are two scenarios in the DFB Pokal: either you hope for an opponent who might just be beatable if the circumstances are right, or if you have to exit in the first round, you at least want to go out against a proper big name team from the first division. There is no bigger name in German football than FC Bayern, so I think all fans are happy about the draw, and I’m glad about that. In addition, the club will have a full stadium and generate good income. That might be enough to become active on the transfer market.

Many Bayern fans won’t know what to expect. In your opinion, who are Chemnitz’s key players?

Maurice Trapp, Marc Endres, and Laurin von Piechowski. The new three at the back need to become more stable. After losing their opening game 1-0 to Zwickau, CFC conceded eight goals in three games. That’s too much. The old saying of defense beginning all the way up the field is true, but even so the three guys at the back need to become secure, otherwise it seems possible that the game against Bayern will be decided very early on.

In offense, Chemnitz has players that have proven to be dangerous in front of goal this season. After top scorer Fink left, Daniel Frahn has had to step up to close that hole in attack, and he seems to be handling the increased responsibility well. Dennis Grote has scored against FC Bayern in the Bundesliga, and new signing Florian Trinks has played Bundesliga 14 times for Bremen and Greuther Fürth. He recently won the Hungarian Cup with Ferencváros. If these players play up to their full potential against Bayern, CFC can be a threat in front of goal.

There was a change over the summer, with a new coach and several new signings. Has there been a noticeable change this season?

The most obvious change is the switch from a back four to a back three. This is to strengthen the midfield and develop more force offensively. Six goals scored in four games is not bad. On the other hand, the defensive gaps are much bigger this way if opponents bridge the midfield with quick counters. Offensively, there are several players carrying the load, with Florian Hansch supporting Daniel Frahn. They still need to learn how to work together, but both have the potential to score a double-digit number of goals. Whether it will be enough to score against Bayern will remain to be seen.

Horst Steffen is Chemnitz’ new coach.
(Photo: Karina Hessland / Bongarts / Getty Images)

You already mentioned it: defense was the biggest problem last season, too, now it’s another eight goals conceded in the first four games. Is the offensive style too dangerous, or are there other causes for the lack in balance?

The switch from back four to back three isn’t completed yet. Counterpressing is very popular in the 3. Liga and to do that, it’s important to own the midfield to be able to put pressure on the opposing player who has the ball. To achieve that, one player is taken from defense and when the opponent attacks, the wingers need to help with the backtracking. Paderborn is an example where this works really well. Chemnitz still needs a couple more training sessions to achieve it.

Which are the club’s short, medium, and long term goals? And what do you think would be realistic?

Every club would like to be better than they were in the previous season. Short term, the goal has to be to internalise coach Horst Steffen’s ideas and to improve the playing style with a back three and five in midfield. This should lead to fewer goals against, and therefore more points overall. Medium term, Chemnitzer FC should become a team to be reckoned with in the top third of the 3. Liga table. The stadium is wonderful, the atmosphere is great, but the inconsistencies in performance in the past have wiped away all dreams of promotion.

Long term, the direction of ambition has to be upwards. After five years in the third division, it would be important economically to get access to the TV money available in the 2. Bundesliga. I don’t know how much clubs will profit from the new TV contracts that were agreed on for the 2018/19 season, but football in a higher division will always be more attractive from an economic point of view.

If Chemnitz does plug into its full potential of performance, I think the top third of the table can be realistic, and then anything could happen – even in the fight for promotion. CFC is not an overbearing team, however.

Big FC Bayern will come to play this weekend. How can Chemnitzer FC achieve the best result, and is there a scenario where you think a win for Chemnitz is possible?

The back three need support. Maybe Horst Steffen should line up his starting eleven in a back five, where the wingers go forward in possession. The basic formation would stay the same, but defense would have more manpower. And if there is a chance to go forward, the back five turn into four defenders, not three. That makes the game easier to read, but I wouldn’t expect too many changes from side to side anyway. But at least that way there is an additional player when the ball gets lost.

Winning against Bayern as a third-division team is like winning the lottery. Of course it’s possible, the probability is just not very high. If CFC’s conversion of shots were at 100%, and that of Bayern at 20%, it might become interesting.

Thank you, Markus Herwig!

It hasn’t been an easy year for Chemnitzer FC. However, winning their state cup competition meant they qualified for the DFB Pokal, where they will host Bayern.

CFC’s biggest successes came many years ago – like participation in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup in 1967. In 1989 and 1990, they participated in the UEFA Cup. On a national level, they won the GDR league in 1967 and came second in 1990. In addition, they played in 2. Bundesliga between 1991 and 96 as well as ’99 and ’01. Afterwards, they got relegated several times, even dropping out of professional football for a while.

Scouting report

In 2011, winning the Regionalliga (fourth division) title meant the return to professional football. Since then, the team has played no part in the relegation battle. Preseason this year has been anything but easy, however, with issues in obtaining their licence that could only be solved in a second attempt, and the aforementioned changes.

Change happened on all levels. Eleven players left Chemnitzer FC to join other clubs, including Björn Jopek (now Würzburger Kickers), who had an important role in central midfield. There were also eleven new players who signed for CFC and who still need to find their footing. Amongst them, Florian Trinks (formerly of Bremen) is the most recognisable one.

What’s noticeable is that the average age of the players who left was 27.0 years, whereas the new signings average 23.7 years – a visible rejuvenation. There have also been changes in the sporting leadership team and coaching staff. The new sporting director is Steffen Ziffer, and Horst Steffen wants to stabilise the team.

What can Bayern expect?

Like so many times before, Chemnitzer FC needs to stay patient. They started the season with four points from the first four games – there’s room for improvement there. The previously mentioned issues in defense need to be addressed. While his predecessor preferred a clear-cut 4-2-3-1 with a very offensive interpretation, Horst Steffen tries to generate superior numbers in the centre.

Chemnitzer FC won their season opener against FSV Zwickau 1-0. It was followed by two losses and a draw.
(Photo: Karina Hessland-Wissel / Bongarts / Getty Images)

Instead, Chemnitz’s coach uses the 3-5-2 system, which is interpreted offensively as well, but is intended to bring a better balance of defense and offense over time. It’s likely that he will veer from the offensive focus for this game.

In a 5-3-2 or 5-4-1, Chemnitz could drop back and wait for chances to counterattack. A chain of defensive midfielders is also not an unknown defensive mechanism against FC Bayern in early rounds of the Cup. The Saxonians will try to leave as little space as possible in their own third to then aggressively fight for every ball.

Chemnitz’s biggest advantage is that they’re already at full speed in their league season, whereas fitness on the record champion’s side seemed to be far from 100% recently. So if there is any hope for an interesting game, this is probably it.

Bayern, on the other hand, need to pay attention only to themselves. If they play to their superiority in the attacking third and convert their chances, the game should be over soon. The main focus for the record cup winner is mostly on finding their own rhythm a week ahead of the Bundesliga start, and to get to the next round with as clear a scoreline as possible.

Manuel Neuer and Arjen Robben, while back in team training, are questionable for this game, just like the other injured players. Either way, Carlo Ancelotti should have a powerful team at his disposal. Kingsley Coman will be an interesting case to watch – the Frenchman had to start the Supercup on the bench, while Tolisso had a new role in Ancelotti’s system.

New signing Tolisso, seen here with Dortmund’s Castro, was convincing in his new role.
(Photo: Alex Grimm / Bongarts / Getty Images)

The new signing played something of a hybrid position, a mash-up of a half-right number 8, a right winger, and a right-back. His task was to back up Joshua Kimmich’s offensive forays and to provide him with the space he needed. Both Kimmich and Thomas Müller profited visibly from the 23-year-old. A role, born from necessity, but impactful at least in Dortmund. It will be interesting to see if Ancelotti will return to it over the course of the season.

Tolisso brought additional stability, particularly against the ball, something that Coman likely wouldn’t have been able to provide. It’s questionable if that is what’s necessary to beat a third-division team, of course, but it is an option to be kept in mind.

Either way, people in Chemnitz are looking forward to 90 minutes of footballing spectacle and – who knows what might happen – maybe even more.

Facts and stats

  • Bayern’s first team have no experience in playing Chemnitzer FC so far. However, the second team won against the Saxony team in 1994, in the second round of the DFB Pokal. With a scoreline of 2-2 it went to a penalty shootout, which Bayern won 4-1.
  • Chemnitz player Dennis Grote has faced Bayern four times and scored twice during those games. He recorded a 3-3 draw with VfL Bochum in 2008, and three losses.
  • The last time Bayern exited the Cup in the first round was in 1994, losing 1-0 to TSV Vestenbergsgreuth.

Experts’ predictions

In this section, an external expert will give their opinion on the game in a couple of sentences and predict the end result. A correct prediction earns them three points, a correct tendency (win, draw, loss) one point. This will be compared to a second prediction, made by Miasanrot’s editorial team. At the end of the season, we will see whether the external experts gained more points than the Miasanrot team.

For this first Cup round, we asked Jan from the Miasanrot team to enter the duel with interview partner Markus Herwig. Luca Gierl predicted a Bayern win last week, and even though it took penalties to decide the outcome, the experts go 1-0 up.

Markus Herwig: Bayern will dominate the game from the get-go and will be 3-0 by half time. Afterwards, they will reduce intensity and Chemnitz will get a goal from a set-piece. In the end, Bayern win 3-1, with CFC goalkeeper Kevin Kunz showing off some fantastic saves.

Jan: Bayern will start at high intensity, and then it will be the same procedure as every year in the first Cup round: 1 or 2 goals before the half-time whistle, then take it down a notch. Maybe Chemnitz will score one, and Bayern then get another goal in. 4-1 to the record champion.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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