This week sees the remaining eight teams fighting to progress in this season’s DFB Pokal with the quarter-finals promising some intriguing clashes. All the favourites are still in the competition while last season’s beaten finalists Freiburg are looking to go one better than last year. 1FC Nürnberg provide the only non-Bundesliga challenger.
Eintracht Frankfurt v Union Berlin (Tuesday)
The 2018 Pokal winners will be looking to inject some positivity into a flagging season and add to the Europa League trophy they won last season as they face Union Berlin on Tuesday. The mood around the club is a little down at the moment with results since the Rückrunde restart disappointing and rumours of player departures this summer abounding.
Evan Ndicka, Daichi Kamada, Jesper Lindström and Randal Kolo Muani are all being tipped to leave the Adler with coach Oliver Glasner also non-committal at the moment regarding a contract extension. Progression in the cup would at least provide a little cheer.
Union continue to hold their own in the Bundesliga top four and the prospect of Champions League football at the Alten Försterei next season is a genuine prospect. A weekend win over VfB Stuttgart saw them extend their advantage over Freiburg, Leipzig and Frankfurt in the table.
Last season saw the Köpenicker knocked out at the semi-final stage thanks to a 93rd minute winner from Leipzig’s Emil Forsberg. The chance to reach a first ever final is something only the most optimistic Unioner would have dreamt of a few seasons ago.
Bayern Munich v Freiburg (Tuesday)
Fresh from regaining top spot in the Bundesliga from Borussia Dortmund in der Klassiker, Thomas Tuchel now has to try and steer Bayern past Freiburg and into the Pokal semi-finals. It’s been two years since the Bavarians last lifted the German cup so in their eyes a win at the Olympiastadion is long overdue.
Their priority will be the Bundesliga and the Champions League, but make no mistake the Rekordmeister will want to achieve the treble if at all possible and progression against the Breisgauer in midweek will be seen as a stepping stone to achieving that.
Like Union Berlin, Freiburg continue to maintain their position in the top four above the likes of RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt and will want to make amends for losing last year’s final to the Red Bulls from Saxony.
Overachievement is the name of the game under Christian Streich but overcoming Bayern in the Allianz Arena would surely go down as their biggest achievement this season should they pull of the surprise. The two clubs will also face each other next weekend at the Europa Park Stadion in the league.
1.FC Nürnberg v VfB Stuttgart (Wednesday)
The 2.Bundesliga’s sole survivor Nürnberg will really fancy their chances of a first semi-final appearance since they won the trophy in 2007 when they face Bundesliga bottom side VfB Stuttgart at the Max Morlock Stadion.
Indeed, it was Stuttgart they beat in the final back 16 years ago so the omens are good. Der Klub are still not mathematically safe from relegation from the 2.Bundesliga and suffered 1-0 loss on Friday to leaders Darmstadt, but their woes are nothing like as desperate as the Swabians right now.
Bruno Labbadia’s rescue mission to keep Stuttgart in the Bundesliga is not working and a loss to Nürnberg in the Pokal could just spell the end for the VfB coach with the club reportedly already lining up a second coaching switch at this late stage of the season.
While not exactly a giant-killing, the Stuttgart scalp would be a prize much appreciated down in Bavaria. Could there be a better time to face VfB?
RB Leipzig v Borussia Dortmund (Wednesday)
Both these sides will be desperate to progress help ease the pain of weekend Bundesliga defeats. Leipzig slumped to a 3-0 home loss to Mainz with the Nullfünfer controlling the game throughout. Marco Rose faces his former side still trying to pick his players up mentally with the effects of their 7-0 Champions League thrashing in Manchester still having an influence.
Die Roten Bullen are in danger of not finishing in the top four if they don’t get their season back on track soon and this quarter final will be a great opportunity to do that. The prospect of defending the DFB Pokal in Berlin at the end of the season will also be a factor.
Dortmund’s chastening loss to Bayern at the Allianz Arena saw them cede the advantage in the title race and like Rose at Leipzig, Edin Terzic’s task is to rally his troops for the match-up with Leipzig. They won’t have had long to brood over the Bayern defeat which may be an advantage.
Terzic claimed Pokal glory in 2021 beating Leipzig 4-1 in the final and while the Bundesliga title is their number one priority, winning the cup is very high up in their season ambitions.