Fritz Walter, Ottmar Walter, Horst Eckel, Werner Liebrich, Werner Kohlmeyer, five German world champions at the Miracle of Bern in 1954, plus Andreas Brehme, the 1990 world champion, and other icons such as Michael Ballack, Mario Basler, Hans-Peter Briegel, Miroslav Klose or Stefan Kuntz have shaped the profile of 1. FC Kaiserslautern for decades between high skill and irrepressible fighting spirit.

The club from the Palatinate won the championship four times and the cup competition twice – and fell into the third division in 2018.

Hans-Jürgen (“Dixie”) Dörner, Klaus Sammer and his son Matthias, Reinhard Häfner, Ralf Minge, Torsten Gütschow and Ulf Kirsten were protagonists of the SG Dynamo Dresden in their time as players became.

Now the club has to fight not to slip into the third division for the fourth time.

And that in a two-piece that requires iron nerves and the greatest determination.

On Friday (8.30 p.m. in the FAZ live ticker for the second Bundesliga, on SAT.1 and Sky) the relegation begins with the duel between the third division and the second division third bottom in the Fritz Walter Stadium.

And it is symptomatic of this duel that both clubs have recently been quite lame on their feet.

Especially the Dresdeners, who couldn't win a game in the second division second half.

Even coach Guerino Capretti, who came in March and succeeded Alexander Schmidt, has not yet managed to reverse the trend in Saxony, which he took over in 14th place.

What now speaks for the 40-year-old German-Italian is his experience with all-or-nothing games.

In 2020 he rose to the third division with SC Verl against Lokomotive Leipzig.

The Palatinate stumbled the final sprint

Kaiserslautern have had similarly turbulent days.

The team coached by Marco Antwerp seemed unstoppable on the direct path back to the second division.

Then the Palatinate stumbled in the final sprint, lost three times in a row and fired their coach, who was popular with the fans.

The fact that Antwerp had to go after the best of the four third division seasons and was replaced by Dirk Schuster may also have had something to do with what is said to have been a battered relationship between the coach and the sports manager and former Lautern professional Thomas Hengen.

In view of the team's increasingly weaker performance, however, the impression grew that a change in the coaching position could be helpful in the decisive phase of the season.

With the 54-year-old Sachsen Schuster, 1. FC Kaiserslautern has signed a relegation specialist, who in 2014, at the time the coach of third-division Darmstadt 98, managed the feat of relegating his team after a 1-3 defeat in the first leg against the then second-division sixteenth Arminia Bielefeld to rebuild at home Böllenfalltor in no time at all.

With a bit of luck and a last-minute goal in extra time, the team with stronger nerves in the decisive second leg won 4:2 on the “Alm” and thus pushed Arminia into the third division.

The nerve-racking football coach Schuster, whose teams tend to play no-frills, sometimes rustic football, said after his first week of training on the Betzenberg to the Südwestrundfunk when looking at the upcoming class struggle: "I'm convinced that if we all pull together, the community is in the foreground and the twelfth man also plays his part, then we can create a good starting position here.

And then we'll go to Dresden and see how we can hurt Dynamo again.” The man has mastered the psychology of preparing for the all-or-nothing encounters.

The whole thing will be decided on May 24 in Dresden, where Guerino Capretti had to clear his mind.

What the trainer saw against Aue was unfit for the last two class tests.

Everything was missing, above all the passion and intensity to want to win the game.

He got his players ready for the decision: "There are two games that can straighten out a season that wasn't good."

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