SSV Ulm 1846 Fußball are one of three Regionalliga teams left in the DFB-Pokal. Following a 2-0 victory over second-tier FC Erzgebirge Aue in the first round, the former Bundesliga side take on FC Schalke 04 on Tuesday night (18:30 CET). Ulm’s Anton Fink sat down with DFB.de to discuss his experiences in the DFB-Pokal and SSV’s chances of going through.
DFB.de: Anton, what were the key factors in your first-round victory over Aue?
Anton Fink: We were very compact in defence and allowed our opponents very few chances. We knew that we had enough quality up front to cause a second-division side problems. It was a win that we very much deserved.
DFB.de: The second round of the cup sees you play FC Schalke 04, who are currently sitting bottom of the Bundesliga. What are your thoughts on the draw?
Fink: They’re a good team to have drawn. Despite the difficult sporting situation in Gelsenkirchen at the moment, we know that we’re still the underdogs. We would have loved to welcome Schalke to the Donaustadion, but our pitch doesn’t have undersoil heating so it wouldn’t have been ideal.
DFB.de: Do you think that playing away will be a disadvantage?
Fink: Absolutely. We've got a long drive ahead of us and we're playing in a stadium we don't know. Nevertheless, we’ve got high hopes and we’ll give it everything we’ve got to try and cause an upset.
DFB.de: You have 14 games under your belt in the DFB-Pokal. What do you think is the most important thing when you take on teams from higher divisions in the cup?
Fink: First and foremost, it's important to be defensively stable. The longer you go without conceding, the more the pressure increases on the favourite and it gets easier for you. You gain more confidence. We don’t have any pressure going into the game so we intend to just do our best to frustrate them as best we can.
DFB.de: Last season you reached the quarterfinals of the DFB-Pokal with Karlsruher SC. Are you hoping to achieve a similar feat this year?
Fink: That would be fantastic for the club. We want to make the most of our opportunity and go for the upset against Schalke by making the most of our chances.
DFB.de: Ulm are in the top third of the Regionalliga Südwest, but a little way off the top. What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Fink: We were definitely hoping to have accumulated more points at this stage, however we've only played a third of the current season. There's still a long way to go and almost 30 games left. There's a lot of time. Anything's possible, so you shouldn't write us off in the title race too early.
DFB.de: It's your first season below the third tier of football, so how do you rate the level of football in the Regionalliga?
Fink: It's a good level of football. All the teams know how to defend well and it's not easy to make your mark in attack. If you're anything less than 100% focused, you can lose to any team. But that just makes the league more exciting and interesting.
DFB.de: After an interruption to the season, football in the Regionalliga has now resumed. Do you think that is also an advantage in view of the Cup match just before Christmas?
Fink: Definitely! The way that the season has resumed means that we have had a total of three matches before the DFB-Pokal match, so we've had the opportunity to get back into the rhythm and get back into a competitive mindset in good time. We’re also happy with the way that the restart has gone so far after a 3-0 victory at Eintracht Stadtallendorf.