Less than a year ago, Janis Blaswich was staring down relegation from the Eredivisie with Heracles Almelo. Now, he’s preparing to help RB Leipzig win their second DFB-Pokal title when they come up against Eintracht Frankfurt on Saturday (3rd June, 20:00 CEST).
Blaswich, who had been brought in as a back-up goalkeeper, was called upon to deputise in goal following captain Pete Gulacsi’s season-ending knee injury in October 2022. The 32-year-old has become a regular in RBL’s starting line-up, making several key saves to help the team pick up important points.
The goalkeeper will now need to be on top form once again. Ahead of potentially the biggest game of his career so far, Blaswich spoke about the DFB-Pokal final, Frankfurt’s top goalscorer Randal Kolo Muani and offered up some hairstyling tips for Kevin Kampl.
You reached the round of 16 of the Dutch Cup in 2021 with Heracles Almelo, and are now in the DFB-Pokal final with RBL. How do you feel ahead of the game?
- Janis Blaswich: “I’m feeling extremely excited for the final. It’s definitely the biggest game of my career. The DFB-Pokal is a top level competition. Plus, the club have a bit of a knack for this competition (laughs).”
Several players in the team have experienced already what it’s like to play in the final, and have won the cup already. Is this something you talk about within the team, and do those with less experience ask for tips?
- “It’s definitely a benefit for us to have a few guys that know what it’s like to play in the final and that have won it already. They know what happens on a matchday like that and what it means to win the title. We expect that those players share their experiences and input with the team, which is what’s happened so far.”
You have conceded just one goal in the DFB-Pokal this season. Is it possible that you’re even more focused when playing in this competition?
- “It’s a special competition. You only have one game to determine whether you will advance to the next round or, in the final, whether you’ll win the title. The atmosphere will be incredible and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s all down to this one last game, where we can end the season on a high.”
Key battles ahead of #RBLSGE
Have you been able to pick up on any pre-final excitement within the stadium or in the city already?
- “It’s obviously a big topic in Leipzig right now, and preparations for it are in full swing. You can definitely tell that it’s something special and that it’s not just your average game, especially in the week leading up to it. Internally, we’re approaching this game the same way we would any other match, there’s nothing different.
Our penalty takers might put in some extra practice, but other than that, nothing changes about our approach – only that we’re feeling extraexcited and motivated!”
Is the atmosphere always something special during cup games?
- “Definitely. Of course we would rather be playing at home (laughs). But the atmosphere in Berlin will also be great, there will be many fans supporting us and maybe then it will still feel like a home game.”
I’m going into it as if it were my last game.
This will be your first cup final. How are you approaching the game?
- “I’m going into it as if it were my last game. To just be there in order to help the team, to leave everything on the pitch and to win the title. That’s my goal. I’ve not won a major title yet and I would love to do so now.”
Goalkeepers can play a decisive role in a final, especially if it were to go to penalties. Is this something you talk about with the other goalkeepers?
- “We will of course do our own analysis within the goalkeeping team. We look at how the other team plays, and it’s the same procedure as in the Bundesliga. There’s a possibility that this game could go to penalties and so there’s a few things that we will look more closely at.”
Pick One with Janis Blaswich
Eintracht are known for being a tournament team, especially when looking back on the last few years. How tough an opponent will they be in the final?
- “The second half of the season didn’t go as they had planned, but we’re not focused on that at all.
We know the quality and power they have. But, we’re not heading to Berlin thinking “Frankfurt haven’t won all of their last games, this is going to be an easy match.” It’s the exact opposite. We need to be fully alert and focused against them.”
Frankfurt’s Randal Kolo Muani is the player with the most goal involvements in the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal this season. What do you have to say about him as a player?
- “He has a lot of individual quality, and is a strong shooter. He’s very talented in several areas. He’s the kind of player that can really impact a game.”
Kevin Kampl recently said that of everyone in the team, you take the longest to style your hair…
- “I still have a few hairs left, so that’s a good thing (laughs). I like to take my time, that’s just a personal preference. If Kevko needs some tips, then we can definitely make a tutorial on how to properly blow dry your hair, or we’ll go to the hairdresser together.”