For the second time in the past three years, Willi Orban and RB Leipzig are aiming to reach the DFB-Pokal final. Three weeks after their 4-1 win in the Bundesliga, the Bulls are favourites going into Friday's semi-final at Werder Bremen (20:30 CEST). The 28 year old spoke to DFB.de about Werder, Leipzig's big chance of winning the title for the first time and the 2019 final.
DFB.de: Willi Orban, in the semi-final of the DFB-Pokal, RB will face Werder Bremen for the second time in just a few weeks. How tough will the task be in Bremen?
Willi Orban: It's a very demanding task. A knockout game in particular is always special and often creates its own dynamic. I think it's going to be a tough fight, we'll have to bring our all on order to win.
DFB.de: What kind of match do you expect? Where is the key to success?
Orban: It will certainly be a hard-fought game. Because there's so much at stake, it will be crucial to go into one-on-one duels and win them. We have to try to play our game and put Bremen under constant pressure.
DFB.de: What significance does RBL's recent 4-1 win in the Bundesliga have, and also the fact that Leipzig has won all of its last four Bundesliga encounters against Werder by total scoreline of 12-1?
Orban: Of course we can take a lot from that game, but so can Bremen. Therefore it's back to 0-0 on Friday and you can expect each team to go into the match with a different plan to a few weeks ago.
DFB.de: How close are Leipzig to winning the first title in the club's history? How big is the chance?
Orban: In theory we are two wins away from the up title; that sounds quite simple. However, Bremen are a strong side that take some beating. Should we reach the final, it would be an extremely difficult match, simply because it's an all-or-nothing game for a title, regardless of which opponent you are up against.
DFB.de: How important is the DFB-Pokal for you?
Orban: It's very important. The cup has always had a mythical feeling, with a lot of stories and a lot of prestige. The whole of Germany will be watching. For us, it would be even more special because it would be the first major title for the club, the fans and the region. We can make history. But enough dreaming, we have a semi-final to win first. (grins)
DFB.de: Where does the fascination of this competition come from for you?
Orban: In general, the appeal of the cup is the small clubs facing the big ones: David against Goliath, so to speak, especially in the first rounds. I think the fans want games like those and cheer for for the underdogs. Personally, I like the knockout games and the special atmosphere - more so, of course, if you also win. (laughs)
DFB.de: What memories do you like to look back on randomly when you think about the DFB-Pokal? Any childhood stories?
Orban: Big DFB-Pokal nights at the Betzenberg as a kid – I can still remember these really well. The tension and excitement made them really special evenings. You could really feel how much these games meant.
DFB.de: RB Leipzig were well beaten by Bayern in the final two years ago. Are there any mistakes from that game that still bug you today?
Orban: I couldn’t say – I‘ve pretty much suppressed that (laughs). But there were a few key moments of course – if we’d taken our chances here we would have had a much better shot at winning. We’ve grown as a team since then though and we were able to learn a lot from that final.
DFB.de: What did you make of the atmosphere at Berlin’s Olympiastadion?
Orban: It was a unique experience. Bayern fans at one end, our supporters at the other. I had butterflies beforehand already, then when we walked out and heard just how loud the fans were, it gave me goosebumps. Looking back at that makes it even more regrettable that this season’s final will be played behind closed doors.
DFB.de: How happy are you with your personal performances this season? What has gone well and where can you improve?
Orban: On the whole I’m very pleased, not just with my own personal development, but with the whole team’s. There are always things we can still work on, but it has to be said that we’ve been able to raise the standard again this season. The good thing ist hat we are never satisfied, that’s in our DNA. True to the slogan “You Can Do Anything” we know no boundaries and always want to deliver our absolute best.
DFB.de: You’ve got a tough group at the EUROS with Hungary: Up against Germany, Portugal and France. How do you rate your chances?
Orban: We’re not the favourites in that group – that goes without saying. But we’ve come a long way as a team and we want to ruffle a few feathers against the big teams. Who knows, maybe we can surprise everyone and take advantage of the format to qualify for the next round. The best third-placed teams also have a chance to go through.