DFB Pokal Round 1: Five Underdogs to Root for

The Davids are Taking on the Goliaths.

Last season’s first round saw a few surprising results, like Hoffenheim’s shocking 4-0 loss to fourth tier side Berliner AK, or Karlsruhe’s surprising 4-2 win over Hamburg SV and Kickers Offenbach 2-0 victory against SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

This time around, there are a number of interesting teams from the lower divisions competing in the first round of the DFB Pokal. The Bundesliga Fanatic has taken the liberty to pick out five of those teams, telling you why you should root for them instead of their “Goliath” Bundesliga opposition (if you weren’t already rooting for the Davids of the competition).

1. SV Schott Jena

Many football fans are aware of the existence of Carl Zeiss Jena; however, SV Schott Jena hasn’t managed to raise too many eyebrows throughout their history. This obscurity might be about to change. The club from East Germany never managed to establish itself in the higher echelons of G.D.R. football. Life after reunification didn’t have any glorious moments in store for the team. That changed when the team won the Thüringen Cup against third tier side Rot Weiss Erfurt, and thereby qualified for the DFB Pokal.

However, this summer’s flood in Germany saw the Ernst Abbe Sportfeld drown in water masses provided by the river Saale. It has taken a valiant effort to get the pitch ready for SV Schott’s match against HSV.

This is how the Ernst Abbe Sportfeld looked after the flood had reached the pitch.
This is how the Ernst Abbe Sportfeld looked after the flood had reached the pitch.

This match is probably going to be one of the biggest in this little club’s history, if they’d win it would also be their biggest accomplishment so far.

2. Victoria Hamburg

Both Steffen Effenberg and Uwe Seeler’s father (Erwin Seeler) have played for the side from Eppendorf. Victoria are actually amongst the founding members of the DFB, however, the team is currently only playing in the Regionalliga Nord at the moment. The club’s biggest success came in 1907, when the team reached the semi finals of the German championship.

Victoria oftentimes gets overlooked in the city of Hamburg, and no wonder, since HSV and St. Pauli are more likely to provide the MoPo with juicier headlines. However, should Victoria pull off a win over Hannover 96, they just might steal the headlines on that given day.

3. Neckarsulmer SU

The team from Baden-Württemberg are the only sixth tier side competing in this season’s edition of the cup. That in itself should grant the boys in blue and white some sympathies from neutral observers. However, their way to qualifying for the DFB Pokal was a bumpy road to say the least. Neckarsulm reached the final of the WFV-Pokal, on top of being involved in the promotion fight in the 7th tier at the time. However, the team from the city of 27,000 inhabitants lost 3-1 to third tier side Heidenheim in the final. Under normal circumstances only the winner of the WFV-Pokal qualifies for the DFB Pokal, however, due to Dynamo Dresden’s expulsion from the cup one spot needed to be filled. The three biggest regional football associations had already sent two amateur teams into the running, which meant that the last spot which needed to be filled was handed out to the Football Association of Baden-Württemberg and Neckarsulmer SU.

NSU coach Tim Böttjer told the DFB’s website shortly after his team was handed Kaiserslautern in the draw that he was a believer in modern football. Or as he himself put it: ”Any other way than the attacking way doesn’t yield results in the long-term.” Böttjer’s biggest influences are Christian Streich and Hansi Flick (Böttjer did in fact play at Hoffenheim for four years and was a player at the club during Flick’s stay).

4. Sportfreunde Baumberg

This fifth tier side has roughly around 750 members, and their participation in the DFB Pokal is the biggest happening of the club’s history which started in 1962. Baumberg managed to defeat favorites Rot Weiss Oberhausen in the Niederrheinpokal final with a somewhat fortunate goal. Nils Esslinger’s cross from a free kick seemed to be misplaced, but somehow Oberhausen’s keeper managed to fumble the ball into his own net:

Most of the team has spent its summer holidays partying in Mallorca, preparing for their DFB Pokal match against Ingolstadt by enjoying some ice-cold beer in the heat and celebrating the team’s successful fight against relegation in the past season.

5. Fortuna Köln

Another blast from the past. Fortuna have played 26 years in the 2. Bundesliga and spent the 1973/74 season in the Bundesliga. Furthermore, the team actually managed to reach the DFB Pokal final 30 years ago. The biggest in-town rivals to the Billy Goats have, however, taken a plunge after they were relegated from the 2. Bundesliga in 2000.

The idea of allowing fans to decide the starting line-ups and other vital decisions via polling on the website deinfussballclub.de raised some eyebrows around Germany. However, the fans weren’t always the best judges when it came to finding the right solutions and the board decided to scale back their involvement after a little while.

These days Fortuna are trying to gain promotion to the 3. Liga. The team’s history of late has been a bit chaotic to say the least, since nothing is simple when it comes to running a football club in Cologne it seems … Fortuna’s fans have been through a lot since their team was relegated from the 2. Bundesliga in 2000, a win against Thomas Tuchel’s Mainz side would certainly put a well deserved smile on their faces.

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Niklas Wildhagen

Niklas is a 33-year-old football writer and podcaster who has been following the Bundesliga and German football since the early 90s. You can follow him on Twitter, @normusings, and listen to his opinions on @TalkingFussball.

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