Will 1. FC Köln finally break their DFB-Pokal round of 16 curse? They have lost their last seven matches at this stage of the competition. On Tuesday (18:30 CET), they face four-time cup winners Hamburger SV at home. FC goalkeeper Marvin Schwäbe (26) speaks to DFB.de about his season in the DFB-Pokal so far, the battle for the number one spot at Köln and his remarkable career path.
DFB.de: Marvin Schwäbe, ahead of this season, the goalkeeping hierarchy at Köln was clear: Timo Horn is number one and plays in the Bundesliga, you are pushing him for that spot and playing in the DFB-Pokal. In the meantime, things have changed and the number one isn’t as obvious – you have the advantage at the moment. How has your season in the cup been so far?
Marvin Schwäbe: Positive overall. I made my debut for the club in the first game in Jena. I felt good, even though we went behind. We then managed to equalise and take it to a penalty shootout where I made two saves – it went brilliantly! The same was true in the second round against VfB Stuttgart. We won again, kept a clean sheet and reached the next round. That meant that I’d get a third game, and we face another exciting opponent in HSV.
DFB.de: How strong do you think Hamburg are?
Schwäbe: HSV are a strong, ambitious side that want to be back in the Bundesliga. We have to be wary. The team have their strengths and play good football so we have to be prepared for everything. We still have a video analysis session to come so I’m not yet sure on all the details. We won’t underestimate HSV in any way.
DFB.de: What will be the key to victory?
Schwäbe: We have to impose our game and give everything until the final whistle blows. We want to be positive, brave going forward and allow HSV as little as possible in terms of chances. We want to dominate the game.
DFB.de: How important is the DFB-Pokal to you personally?
Schwäbe: It’s really important to me. As you have already mentioned, the cup is my competition, so this season it’s even bigger for me. It’s also the most direct path to silverware. We want to make it through round by round.
DFB.de: Which DFB-Pokal game that you have played in sticks most in your memory?
Schwäbe: I’ve had many ups and downs in my career. I played against RB Leipzig in 2015 as goalkeeper for VfL Osnabrück. The game was called off in the 71st minute after the referee was hit by a lighter (Ed. Ad. The game was called 2-0 in Leipzig’s favour). The memory of that game is still positive, however, because we were leading 1-0 when it was stopped. A year later, I played against Leipzig again with Dynamo Dresden and we knocked them out on penalties. I have a lot of positive memories associated with this competition.
DFB.de: After the injury to regular ‘keeper Timo Horn, you are now also the Bundesliga goalkeeper for FC Köln. What were your expectations when you moved to the club from Bröndby in the summer?
Schwäbe: At the time, I was told that Timo was the number one, that I should provide him with competition and that I would get my chance if I did well. I’m happy that I’ll be playing in our upcoming Bundesliga match – It’s great for me personally. Things have gone better than planned.
DFB.de: What is your relationship with Timo Horn like?
Schwäbe: Pretty normal – we have a good relationship even though we are competitors. I don’t think that’s the case with all goalkeepers.
DFB.de: When you glance over your CV, you can see a continuous development from the third division to Bundesliga 2 and then a top Danish club in Bröndby IF. You were there for three years and won the title. How important was that experience abroad for you?
Schwäbe: It was really good for me personally; my time abroad gave me a lot. As you have said, it has always been about developing in the right direction and playing regularly, not just sitting on the bench and waiting for a chance. Therefore, after three years in Denmark and winning the title, I wanted to make the next step. There are only 18 teams in the Bundesliga and 18 goalkeeping spots. 1. FC Köln had been interested in me for over a year and wanted to sign me. The goalkeeping coach Andreas Menger called me often and made me feel good about the move. I decided relatively early on that I wanted to go to Köln.
DFB.de: You succeeded a World Cup winner in Ron-Robert Zieler as number two at Köln. FC traditionally have very good goalkeepers. Have you met Toni Schumacher?
Schwäbe: I know all about the tradition at the club and the big names, but unfortunately I haven’t met Toni Schumacher yet.
DFB.de: How have you found your first half year in Köln? Have you felt how important the club is to the city?
Schwäbe: I feel really comfortable here and was welcomed by the team, the club and everyone involved. I know the people here live and breathe FC Köln, but when you experience it firsthand it’s something completely different – much more intense than you can imagine.
DFB.de: And what about the 4-1 derby win over Borussia Mönchengladbach...
Schwäbe: That has definitely been the highlight so far! Sadly, it was the last game in front of a full stadium. That game was a really good experience.
DFB.de: If FC Köln make it through against HSV, they would already be in the quarter-finals of the competition. Is the final in Berlin starting to sneak into view?
Schwäbe: You try to keep the goal in mind, but it is still a long way off. We need to go game by game as there is no room for error in the cup.