Marvin Stefaniak has been back at his childhood club Dynamo Dresden since the beginning of October. The 25-year-old midfielder is hoping to surprise second-division SV Darmstadt 98 in the DFB-Pokal next Tuesday (20:45 CET), and sat down with DFB.de to discuss the cup match and Dynamo’s fans.
DFB.de: Beating SV Darmstadt 98 and reaching the last 16 of the DFB-Pokal would be a welcome early Christmas present for everyone at the club. How do you rate your chances, Marvin?
Marvin Stefaniak: Anyone can beat anyone in the DFB-Pokal. If we bring our A game out onto the pitch with us, the chances are good. It would definitely be ideal for us to go into the short Christmas break with a cup win. It would give everyone at Dynamo a good feeling for the holiday period and to start next year with.
DFB.de: How big is the difference in sporting terms between a second division team and a top team in the third division?
Stefaniak: Not too big, I would say, which is why Darmstadt won’t have been too happy to have drawn us for the second round. I think that whichever team turns up will play the decisive role in determining the outcome of the game.
DFB.de: Dynamo have already knocked out an ambitious second-division side in Hamburger SV with an emphatic 4-1 win. At that point though, you weren’t under contract back in Dresden. Were you following the game?
Stefaniak: Of course. I've always kept an eye on Dynamo since they’re my childhood club. It was an outstanding performance by the team to knock out HSV. Everything went perfectly for the team, right from the defence through to the attack. If we can build on that performance against Darmstadt, it’ll be great.
DFB.de: What will be the key to victory do you think?
Stefaniak: We’ll have to give it everything we’ve got and play to the limit. Every single player has to want it more than they do and show the commitment to see us through. The motivation to knock out a club in a higher division will be huge anyway.
DFB.de: That is especially true for Dynamo midfielder Yannick Stark, right?
Stefaniak: Yannick was born in Darmstadt and played for the club for a long time. He will be really motivated, no question – but that goes for all of us. We definitely consider ourselves lucky that Yannick is on our side now. He’s been leading the team ever since he arrived.
DFB.de: Speaking of leaders, Dynamo captain Sebastian Mai will miss the Pokal game against the Lilies due to a knee injury, meaning he won’t be able to play against his younger brother Lukas.
Stefaniak: That’s obviously a shame for Basti, who is undoubtedly an important player for us. The clash with Darmstadt would have been even more special than it already is due to the family aspect of it. But he’s the kind of guy who can play through the pain barrier and he will be back from this injury – things will be even easier for him if we can be successful in his absence.
DFB.de: During your time with Dynamo Dresden you have already been able to pull off a few cup upsets. What memories do you have of those games?
Stefaniak: Our first-round wins against FC Schalke 04 and RB Leipzig in 2014 and 2016 remain especially strong in the memory. They were outstanding games in which the fans in the stands gave us a real boost, I have to say. The fans turned the stadium into a cauldron and helped to create a great atmosphere. That makes it even tougher this time around, when we have no choice but to play behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.
DFB.de: The Dyanmo fans’ passion and support for the club have been on show again recently with the impressive number of tickets that have been sold for the ghost game against Darmstadt. What do you make of that as a player?
Stefaniak: It’s just phenomenal. The stadium was virtually sold out with 30,000 sold within two days, and the club managed to continue and even expand the sale after that –crazy. It once again shows the great togetherness of the Dynamo family.
DFB.de: Was that one of the reasons why you returned to Dresden on 5th October, the last day of the transfer window?
Stefaniak: Definitely. We never lost touch. I had been considering my future for a long time ahead of the start of the season, after I left Wolfsburg for 1. FC Nürnberg last year and was then loaned to Greuther Fürth. After the season started in September, it was clear that there was huge interest in a transfer both on my side and on Dynamo’s. I was even happier when the loan went through. Now I want to help Dynamo Dresden get back where the club belongs.
DFB.de: What has changed since your first spell in Dresden?
Stefaniak: In terms of the squad, only Marco Hartmann and goalkeeper Patrick Wiegers were here before. The training ground is also new – Dynamo has taken a massive step forward with that. Otherwise, almost everything is as I knew it before. (laughs) All the club’s quirks have stayed the same.
DFB.de: In 2015/2016 you won the 3. Liga with Dynamo Dresden. Do you think the current side can repeat that feat?
Stefaniak: That’s definitely our aim and our dream, but I’m not the kind of man who promises things to the fans – I just look at it one game at a time. Things have gone well so far, but we definitely can’t let ourselves get complacent. The 3. Liga is as tight and difficult as ever. Every point that we collect before Christmas is valuable, but we will need a breather in the early stages of 2021 in order to remain on top.