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Teamcheck Heidenheim: Folgt nach der besten Hinrunde des 1. FC Heidenheim der Aufstieg?

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As of: 01/16/2023 6:43 p.m

1. FC Heidenheim played the best first half of the second division in its history. However, coach Frank Schmidt does not want to play with thoughts about promotion.

This is how it went before the winter break

1. FC Heidenheim would have loved to have continued playing, it was going so well. After the last four wins in five games, the Heidenheimers are in third place with 33 points and thus played the best first half of the second division of the club. A point separates Heidenheim from the direct promotion ranks. Nobody expected that before the season – not even the Heidenheimers themselves.

As almost every season, the FCH had to give up its top performers. With Tobias Mohr and Robert Leipertz, two of the team’s three top scorers went, with Oliver Hüsing the main defender. But Heidenheim was able to compensate for the departures once again – and even strengthen them. For example, newcomer Jan-Niklas Beste developed into one of the best offensive players in the league. Thanks in part to him (five goals, six assists), Heidenheim scored 33 goals, only SC Paderborn scored more often. At the same time in the preseason, the offensive only scored 21 goals. A particular strength of the FCH attack: counter (seven hits – first place in the league).

Lennard Maloney joined the traditionally strong defense from Borussia Dortmund II on a free transfer. There were three fewer goals conceded than during the 2021/2022 winter break, although Heidenheim conceded an untypical seven goals in the past two games of the first half of the season. Thanks to their defence, Heidenheim is hard to beat, FCH have only lost two games. Only league leaders Darmstadt lost even less often.

The 1. FC Heidenheim team thanks the fans after the wild 5:4 win against Regensburg at the end of the first half of the season.

The team from the Ostalb has always been hard to beat in their home arena – Heidenheim is the strongest team at home in the 2nd Bundesliga this season. This season, the team is also playing well away from home: from 14th place in the away table, they went up to fourth place. It’s going so well that even head coach Frank Schmidt suspects in an interview with SWR Sport that the team played beyond their potential: “Many games were very close, considering last week, we scored nine points in the English week . But it could have turned out differently this week.”

Who is coming, who is going?

Anyone who now thinks that the club would go shopping in winter to force promotion does not know the nature of Heidenheim. “I’m very happy with my team, with every single player who’s with us,” says coach Schmidt. In fact, there are hardly any rumors about transfers at FCH. They are said to be looking for reinforcements on the right flank only. Benjamin Goller was traded in Heidenheim like in the summer, but switched to league competitors from Nuremberg. Since then, no new names have been heard from the city on the Brenz.

Well-known names are being talked about. Even before the winter break, top performers Marnon Busch, Jonas Föhrenbach and Jan Schöppner extended their contracts long-term. Other contracts expire in the summer, including regular player Denis Thomalla. After a weak previous season, the 30-year-old veteran applied for an extension with a strong first half of the season.

Attacking midfielder Denis Thomalla applied for a contract extension in the first half of the season with six goals and two assists.

Discussions are ongoing, confirms Frank Schmidt. Everyone in Heidenheim would know what he was up to: “In the end, of course, I hope that Denis will extend here with us. […] But it’s not always just about the wishes of the coach.” Schmidt sees this openness and closeness to the players as one of the special features in Heidenheim: “The team unity, the cohesion, that’s very important for us.”

The trainer: A Heidenheim veteran

The same text could have been written here for 15 years: The coach of 1. FC Heidenheim is called Frank Schmidt. In September, the Heidenheim veteran celebrated its anniversary. Schmidt was born in Heidenheim, played there and has been a coach since 1. FC Heidenheim was founded in 2007. The 49-year-old led FCH from the fifth division to the gates of the Bundesliga.

In 2020, Schmidt and his Heidenheimers failed in the relegation only because of the away goal rule at Werder Bremen. Now he and his team are back on the relegation rank. The former defensive midfielder Schmidt would like to work as a coach in the Bundesliga. So far, however, he has rejected all offers from the first division, preferring to move up with his FCH. If it worked out this season, Schmidt could celebrate a record as a first division coach: In the summer he overtakes Volker Finke as the coach with the longest tenure at a club in professional football.

Heidenheim’s coach Frank Schmidt is honored with a choreography for his 15th coaching anniversary during the game against 1. FC Kaiserslautern.

When asked about this, Schmidt reacted as you know him – down to earth: “It’s not my goal to break any records when it comes to being a coach at a club. I have only one goal: to be successful with 1. FC Heidenheim, to remain successful. And that drives me.”

Expectations for the season: Mind games forbidden

Frank Schmidt is clear that the best first half of the season arouses desires: “I can understand that there is a lot of talk about it, also around here.” After this first half of the season, the team shouldn’t go crazy and forget about the tasks ahead: “We haven’t played a game in the second half of the season, so I don’t think so.”

Even if Schmidt puts the brakes on euphoria: he still wants to get up – even if he would never say it like that: “We won’t limit ourselves to anything mentally. […] We will try to go into every game to win the game, to end the season with the best possible number of points.”

1. FC Heidenheim is toiling away at the winter training camp in Algorfa, Spain, from January 12th to 22nd to get the best possible number of points. In Germany, the Heidenheimer got fit, in Spain it’s all about the tactical fine-tuning. Schmidt analyzed three points in the first half of the season that he wants to tackle: the flood of goals conceded in the games before the winter break, the transition game and standard situations: “You have to train them to be successful because the games decide.”

The 1. FC Heidenheim team arrives at the training camp in Spain.

For the necessary competitive toughness, Schmidt also looked for strong friendly opponents. There was a 1-1 draw against the Czech champion and table leader Viktoria Pilsen and a 2-2 draw against the Romanian runners-up CFR Cluj. A third opponent is still being sought.

“I’m sure we’ll come back better,” said Schmidt. Even better than in the best first half of the club’s history? Maybe then it will be something with the fairy tale of the club from the Ostalb and its loyal coach in the Bundesliga. The team can take a first small step towards this on January 28 (Saturday, 1:00 p.m.) when Hansa Rostock comes to Heidenheim.

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