Thomas Letsch, VfL Bochum’s head coach seems to be a big fan of the Vonovia Ruhrstadion. The 54-year-old is yet to lose a game at ‘anne Castroper’, as the Bochum supporters describe their stadium on the Castoper Straße. Letsch took over the job from Thomas Reis at the end of September, with Union Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt among the teams having visited in that time.
This run of wins has catapulted the Blue-Whites from 18th place out of the relegation zone. SC will now be taking on the fifteenth-placed team in the Bundesliga on matchday 21, and Streich expects “a big fight” ahead of them – with the DFB-Pokal quarter-final at the beginning of March 2022 still fresh in the memory. “There will be lots of long balls from their goalkeeper Manuel Riemann towards Philipp Hofmann, one of the best headers of the ball in the Bundesliga. Then there will be second balls and it is about being assertive here.”
Whole squad is fit, apart from Kyereh
The SC head coach emphasised on Thursday morning that him and his coaching team, despite having full respect for Bochum, “are not afraid” ahead of the away game. “We have to play the kind of football that Bochum can’t adjust well to. They defend man-to-man. So it is an essential factor that can hold your own in one-on-one situations.”
A player whose strengths lie in this area is Daniel Kofi-Kyereh. The midfielder won’t be available for SC for the rest of the season, however, after his ACL tear, which is still in his coaches thoughts: “It was a shock in training. It’s very painful for him and for us. He brings something to our game that it special.” The Ghana international will undergo an operation on Saturday.
Apart from Kofi, all SC player are fit. Even Jonathan Schmid, who has not yet played a competitive game this season has been putting in good performances in training, according to Streich. “There is the consideration that he will play in the second team at some point,” said Streich. “If he keeps going it could be the case that after that he will be back on the pitch – at the Europa-Park Stadion.”
Another meeting with Keven Schlotterbeck
When SC Freiburg host VfL Bochum in the league the supporters often get their money’s worth, with an average of 3.63 goals per game. SC can move the goal balance their way with a victory to nil, with Bochum currently leading by 15:14 in terms of goals scored.
Keven Schlotterbeck, who is on loan at VfL Bochum until the end of the season, will obviously be trying to prevent this. Christian Streich assessed the development of the defender, who has been on the bench recently, positively: “He’s following the process, has already started and also scored a goal. Then, the coach changes the team, and you have to fight your way back in.”
Penalties could play a decisive role on Saturday. No team has given away as many penalties up to this point as VfL Bochum (twelve), no team received as many as SC (seven). A penalty previously played a decisive role in the first meeting of the two sides this season, with Vincenzo Grifo scoring a rebound to make it 1-0 after Manuel Riemann had saved his first attempt.
Photo: Achim Keller