Borussia lose DFB-Pokal quarter-final in Saarbrücken

Borussia lost 2-1 at 1. FC Saarbrücken in their DFB-Pokal quarter-final. Robin Hack gave the Foals an early lead against the third-tier side, but Amine Naifi and then Kai Brünker at the death turned the game around in Saarbrücken’s favour.

In front of 15,903 spectators at a sold-out Ludwigsparkstadion, both teams looked to attack from the outset, and both struck early on. Robin Hack firstly finished off a lightning-fast counterattack following a Saarbrücken corner to give Borussia the lead in the eighth minute, before Amine Naifi equalised at the other end with a powerful shot from distance in the 11th. The Foals were not deterred by being pegged back so quickly and soon had good chances to score a second goal through Rocco Reitz, Franck Honorat and Hack again. Borussia continued to pile the pressure on, but were unable to convert a wealth of opportunities and possession into more goals.

In the second period, it was a fiercely fought contest amid prolonged rainfall in Saarbrücken. The Foals controlled the proceeding against the hosts, who were playing on the counter, but failed to create any clear-cut chances from their dominance. With all the signs suggesting that we were headed for extra time, the hosts scored the winning goal in injury time with their first real effort of the second half.


Head coach Gerardo Seoane made four changes to his side from the 3-3 draw in the derby against 1. FC Köln. Ko Itakura and Marvin Friedrich came in for Max Wöber and Joe Scally in defence. Rocco Reitz replaced Manu Koné in midfield and Robin Hack started in place of Nathan Ngoumou. Itakura, Friedrich and Nico Elvedi therefore formed the back three in front of goalkeeper Moritz Nicolas, while Franck Honorat and Luca Netz operated as wing-backs. Julian Weigl, Florian Neuhaus and Reitz made up the midfield, with Hack and Jordan as the forwards.

Max Wöber was unavailable in Saarbrücken because of a muscle issue picked up against Köln, and missed out along with Alassane Plea (bruised foot) and Tomáš Čvančara (ankle ligament tear).


8’: Hack makes it 1-0! Honorat picks up a long ball, beats Gaus for pace, drives into the penalty area and cuts it back to Hack. He holds his nerve and strikes into the bottom left corner.

11’: Saarbrücken equalise. Itakura intercepts a low pass but it falls at the feet of Naifi, who lets fly powerfully from around 16 yards and scores to make it 1-1.

14’: A huge chance for Reitz, but he’s challenged by Thoelke at the final moment.

18’: Saarbrücken clear off the line! Neuhaus strikes it initially, then Hack’s follow-up effort ricochets to Honorat, who hits it from close range. Boeder intervenes to prevent Borussia from going 2-1 up.


60’: Jordan wins it in the air in the penalty area and lays it off to Hack. He tries to chip the ball over Schreiber in the Saarbrücken goal, but it lands on the roof of the net.

90+2’: The host have a free kick on the right. The second ball falls to Boeder on the left of the area, and he hits it first time. Itakura deflects it wide and nothing comes of the resulting corner.

90+3’: Saarbrücken counter through Di Michele Sanchez, who plays it across to Brünker on the edge of the penalty area. The forward strikes a low shot into the bottom corner from around 14 yards for 2-1.


Saarbrücken: Schreiber – R. Becker (D. Becker 74’), Thoelke, Zeitz, Boeder, Gaus – Naifi (Di Michele Sanchez 74’), Sontheimer (Civeja 66’), Kerber, Rabihic (Günther-Schmidt 46’) – Brünker // Unused substitutes: Paterok, Rizzuto, Biada, Breuer, Stehle

Borussia: Nicolas – Elvedi (Lainer 81’), Friedrich, Itakura – Honorat, Weigl, Netz (Scally 81’) – Neuhaus, Reitz (Koné 69’) – Hack (Ngoumou 69’), Jordan // Unused substitutes: Olschowsky, Herrmann, Kramer, Jantschke, Ranos

Goals: 0-1 Hack (8’), 1-1 Naifi (11’), 2-1 Brünker (90+3’)

Yellow cards: Sontheimer, Naifi – Elvedi

Referee: Robert Hartmann (Wangen)

Attendance: 15,903 (sold-out)

Rocco Reitz came into the starting eleven in place of Manu Koné.
Jordan was as usual involved in a lot of individual battles as the central striker, and was always seeking to create space for his teammates.
Franck Honorat was the instigator of many Gladbach attacks on the right flank.


Player of the Season nominees: Franck Honorat

Franck Honorat, Rocco Reitz, Robin Hack and Moritz Nicolas have all been nominated for our Player of the Season for 2023/24, presented by Cichon Personalmanagement. Today, we’ll be taking a closer look at our number 9’s season.


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