There is DFB Pokal action this week with the 32 surviving teams taking the next steps on the road to the Olympiastadion final in June. Here we take a closer look at five ties of particular interest.
RB Leipzig v Hamburger SV
Last season’s cup winners take on 2.Bundesliga high-flyers Hamburg at the Red Bull Arena looking to keep their grip on the trophy they won last year against Freiburg for a bit longer.
It has been a topsy turvy start to the season for die Roten Bullen with Cup-winning coach Domenico Tedesco fired and Marco Rose installed. They have had their ups such as the wins over Borussia Dortmund and Celtic in the Champions League, but the loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach and the second half against Hertha Berlin showed that they can be got at.
Die Rothosen come into the Cup clash on the back of losing their spot at the top of the 2.Bundesliga table. A 3-0 loss to city rivals St. Pauli on Friday however doesn’t take away too much from the great start they have made in their campaign to return to the topflight. Robert Glatzel has seven goals already this season and HSV will be boosted by the fact they are unbeaten on their last two visits to the Red Bull Arena (1-1 draw and 3-0 win).
They reached the semi-final last season, before being denied a shot at glory by eventual runners-up Freiburg.
SV Elversberg v VfL Bochum
The conquerors of Bayer Leverkusen will be looking to claim another Bundesliga scalp when they take on bottom side VfL Bochum at the wonderfully named Ursapharm-Arena an der Kaiserlinde.
The 3.Liga side will have fond memories of their spectacular 4-3 win over the Werkself back in July when they were the first team to highlight that perhaps all was not well with Leverkusen. Memories are nice, but they will ant to make new memories this week by beating Bochum.
Elversberg are in fine form and the promoted side currently top the 3.Liga after 12 matches. A 2-0 away win at the weekend over Viktoria Köln has set them up nicely for the Pokal match.
Bochum were well beaten at the weekend by VfB Stuttgart a week after they themselves notched up their first win of the season. Thomas Letsch’s main concern will be Bundesliga survival, but avoiding a cup upset at the hands of a third division side will also be high on his agenda.
Hannover v Borussia Dortmund
The DFB Pokal is no respecter of pedigree or position so Dortmund travel to the Heinz von Heiden Arena knowing that the in-form second tier side will give them a real challenge.
Hannover see themselves as belonging in the Bundesliga and that is their main ambition but proving their credentials with a win over BVB would be a real shot in the arm for Stefan Leitl’s side, who are currently fifth in the 2.Bundesliga standings.
Dortmund were knocked-out of the DFB Pokal last season in the last 16 by 2.Bundesliga side St. Pauli and will want to avoid another upset to a second tier side. A weekend loss to Union Berlin was not the ideal preparation for the trip to Niedersachsen. They may be tempted to rest a few players due to the constant flow of fixtures, but a strong side will be needed to overcome die Roten.
FC Augsburg v Bayern Munich
It was back on matchday 7 that Augsburg gave their Bavarian neighbours a black eye with their 1-0 Bundesliga win. Could the Fuggerstadter repeat themselves by handing the Rekordmeister another defeat?
Bayern however are a different beast from that loss at the WWK Arena and any talk of crisis has disappeared with beatings handed out to Bayer Leverkusen, Plzeň (twice) and Freiburg since then. Revenge will be on the cards for the Augsburg loss and for the exit last season in the second round when they were trounced 5-0 by Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Augsburg also exited last season the second round after a penalty shoot-out defeat to Bochum. They will at least be boosted by the return of half their defence after Jeffrey Gouweeleeuw and Maxi Bauer were suspended for the weekend 3-2 loss at Köln.
SV Darmstadt v Borussia Mönchengladbach
With just one defeat this season Darmstadt sit atop of the 2.Bundesliga and will be looking forward to the chance to test themselves against Mönchengladbach hopefully as a taster for more meetings next year in the topflight. Die Lilien’s main priority (like HSV) will be on promotion, but who can resist a cup run?
The Foals are progressing well under Daniel Farke and have their eyes on a top six finish, but a club of Gladbach’s pedigree and history would dearly love to get their hands on the DFB Pokal for the first time since 1995 when they won it for the third time.
The two sides met in the DFB Pokal first round back in 2013 with Darmstadt coming out on top after a penalty shoot-out 5-4. Christoph Kramer is the only Gladbach survivor from that loss although Patrick Hermann did come on as a substitute.