Marc Lais will take on his former club SSV Jahn Regensburg with SV Wehen Wiesbaden in the DFB-Pokal on 23rd December (kick-off 20:45 CET). The midfielder gained promotion from the fourth tier to the 2. Bundesliga with Regensburg. Lais spoke to DFB.de about the reunion.
DFB.de: What were your initial thoughts after the draw, Marc?
Marc Lais: That it was going to be a great occasion, for us as a club and also for me personally. I watched it live and was really pleased that I’ll be able to see my former teammates and many familiar faces. I think both teams are evenly matched and both rightly have a chance of reaching the next round.
DFB.de: Have you been in contact with any of your former teammates since?
Lais: After the game was announced, we exchanged a lot of messages, above all with Benedikt Gimber and Sebastian Nachreiner, who I’m still in regular contact with. We’re all really looking forward to the game.
DFB.de: You achieved promotion from the fourth tier to the second division with Regensburg. Did you ever think of anything like that when you joined in 2015?
Lais: When I joined from Chemnitz in 2015, promotion back to the third division was the goal. Although we lost the first leg of the promotion play off 1-0 to Wolfsburg II, we turned it around with a 2-0 win in the second leg to reward a strong season with promotion. In the 3. Liga, the aim was to stay up, but we managed a successful season.
DFB.de: What was the deciding factor behind it?
Lais: We were an impressive team with some great guys. That wasn’t just during games and in training, but also off the pitch we spent a lot of time together in private. Back then there were definitely other teams who were more tipped for promotion, but we were also a good team. What really stands out was our consistency and continuity. In Sebastian Nachreiner, Jann George, Oliver Hein and Markus Palionis, Regensburg still have a lot of players who were part of the fourth-tier squad in 2015.
DFB.de: Your coach at Regensburg was Heiko Herrlich, who is now at FC Augsburg. What kind of a person is he?
Lais: He set us up really well for the opposition and always gave us a clear plan of how he wanted us to play. Also on a personal level, he had a good connection with the players. He was simply a really good fit.
DFB.de: Another famous name is Christian Streich, who was your coach in the youth team at SC Freiburg. What did you take away from your time there?
Lais: I was able to learn from him regularly for two years. In 2009 we won the youth DFB-Pokal. After he became coach of the first team, I got to train with the professionals from time to time. I spent my final six months training with the first team. Christian Streich has one of the highest levels of understanding of football and as a person is also fantastic.
DFB.de: You also played for Freiburg once in the Bundesliga. What memories do you have of that?
Lais: As a Bayern fan, I can’t describe how it was to play against them. It was a dream come true. As soon as I heard that I was in the squad, I was really looking forward to the game. In the 82nd minute, I was brought on for Cedric Makiadi. After the game, I took my chance and swapped shirts with Javi Martinez. Of course, I’d have loved to have played more games in the Bundesliga but I have to admit that the jump from the second team to the professionals was a big one. Overall I’m pleased with how things have turned out since.
DFB.de: After five years in Regensburg, you left SSV last summer. How difficult was it to say goodbye?
Lais: There’s a few different ways of looking at that – emotionally, I had an amazing time in Regensburg. A successful time at that. Gaining promotion to the Bundesliga 2 in the Relegation playoff against 1860 München was even bigger than returning to the 3. Liga. The fact that I scored two goals myself against 1860 was just the icing on the cake. Lately, though, things haven’t been going so well for me on a personal level. It was clear to me that I wanted to play more football, so I started to look for a new club. I had good talks with the guys in charge at SV Wehen Wiesbaden – they want to get back into the Bundesliga 2, as do I.
DFB.de: How would you say your first few months with SVWW have gone?
Lais: We had a great start to the season with our 1-0 win over Heidenheim. The league campaign started well, despite dropping some points where we could have avoided it, like in the 2-2 draw with Kaiserslautern. Given the balance in quality throughout the 3. Liga, it’s important to make sure bad runs are as short as possible. Personally, I had a bad run after starting a few games. That might be partially down to having not played a lot in Regensbrg. I need to work hard to turn this around for myself.
DFB.de: You mentioned the successful start. What was the main reason behind your shock 1-0 win against 1. FC Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal?
Lais: We were the better team on the day, simple as that. We were pumped for the game and we didn’t let Heidenheim find their rhythm. Our pressing caused the opposition to lose the ball at the back.
DFB.de: What will you need to do for another Pokal upset?
Lais: SSV Jahn Regensburg don’t just play out from the back – we need to be ready for long balls. It won’t just be important to win our headers, but also to react quickly and win the second balls. We need to show more ambition than the opponent, then we will be in a position to win the game.