Tuesday and Wednesday featured the 3rd round of Germany’s cup competition, the DFB Pokal. Heavy hitters Bayern, Dortmund (BVB), and Leverkusen played, along with the likes of Schalke 04 Hamburger SV (HSV), VfL Wolfsburg, and the thrill ride that is Hoffenheim. Additionally, 2.Bundesliga heavy weights Union Berlin and Kaisterslautern clashed, while traditional power Köln featured as well. Finally, the remaining 3. Liga club, Saarbrücken tried to stay in the compeition.
In other words, a feast of midweek fußball.
Your crack Bundesliga Fanatic staff recaps the action for you, match-by-match.
Spiel Des Tages: FC Schalke 04 1 – 3 1899 Hoffenheim
- S04: Fährmann / Uchida, Höwedes, Matip, Fuchs / Jones, Neustädter, / Farfán, Boateng, Draxler / Szalai
- Hoffenheim: Grahl / Beck, Süle, Vestergaard, Toljan / Rudy, Polanski / Firmino, Volland, Herdling / Schipplock.
Goals: Herdling (Hoffenheim) 22′, Volland (Hoffenheim) 32′, Firmino (Hoffenheim) 35′, Farfán (67′).
Shots / Shots on Target: S04, 21 (4 on target) / Hoffenheim, 16 (5 on target).
- S04: Uchida (24′), Höwedes (56′), Szalai (68′), Draxler (87′).
- Hoffenheim: Volland (29′), Schipplock (56′), Herdling (83′).
- S04: Meyer for Neustädter (45′), Hoogland for Uchida (45′), Obasi for Matip (81′).
- Hoffenheim: Modeste for Schipplock (60′), Strobl for Volland (72′), Elyounoussi for Herdling (90’+).
In Gelsenkirchen at a restive Veltins arena, Hoffenheim absolutely blitzed Schalke in the opening 35 minutes by carving out a 0-3 lead on the road in their all-yellow kits. Given Schalke’s ability to control the ball in the midfield and Hoffenheim’s propensity to attack off the counter, the former enjoyed more possession of the ball, while the latter immediately looked dangerous on the counter.
- Hoffenheim’s yellow submarine look for the DFB Pokal clash against Schalke.
When Hoffenheim penetrated the final third in the first half, Schalke’s defenders seemed overwhelmed in keeping up the likes of Firmino and Volland. At this point, Hoffenheim seems to have the Bundesliga’s attacking flow most akin to Dortmund with their interlacing runs and passes in the opponent’s box. If only Hoffenheim had a tighter backline. On numerous occasions, Schalke exploited the high backline that Gisdol had his men play. In this sense, the final scoreline flattered Hoffenheim a bit, so it was not shocking when Farfán broke through with a goal at 67′. Although Schalke were probably unlucky not to grab another goal, they can only blame themselves for digging a 0-3 hole – particularly conceding the 3rd goal (Firmino at 35′) so quickly after the second goal.
Schalke supporters have to be chagrined after their club buried themselves in a deep hole so quickly. A 0-3 deficit after 35′ minutes certainly doesn’t allay the narrative of Schalke’s maddening inconsistency, especially defensively. The S04 attack did look dangerous, particularly Draxler and Meyer, who are really collaborating nicely at the moment; however, their attack was nullified by the shocking early deficit. As suspect as Hoffenheim’s own high backline is, the village club, deservedly, advances in the Cup. Cue the Jens Keller angst – again.
1. FC Union Berlin 0 – 3 1.FC Kaiserslautern
For the second time in the space of a few days, Union Berlin came up against a Kaiserslautern side that once again showed their superiority over their rivals from the German capital. Incidentally, the result was the exact same, 3-0, although this time it was played in Berlin, which further emphasised Union’s inability to compete with their direct rivals even in the Pokal. This time, though, Kaiserslautern got going a lot earlier than they did in the league match and took the lead thanks to a header from Willi Orban on 18 minutes. Despite not having the ball, Kaiserslautern marched through the Union defence like a knife through butter and doubled their lead just before the break courtesy of a rare chested goal by Simon Zoller almost on the goal line, after the Union defence could not cope with the confusion caused by a seemingly innocuous ‘Lautern corner.
Union had plenty of chances in the second half but the visiting defence and goalkeeper Sippel denied them the chance to halve the lead. Even the post denied the hosts and Adam Nemec’s effort was ruled out offside. To add insult to injury, Kaiserslautern got their third on the counterattack when Mohamadou Idrissou squared it for Marcel Gaus to tap into the empty net. All in all, yet another disappoint defeat for Union and ‘Lautern march on confident into the next round on the back of an efficient and excellent performance.
Hamburger SV 2 – 1 1.FC Köln
The leaders of the 2. Bundesliga came to Hamburg with one idea in their minds: winning. Separate divisions count for little when one is leading their league and has a winning mentality and HSV almost paid the price for it. Köln enjoyed the more and better chances of the first half but rarely troubled René Adler, with most of the efforts going wide. Just as HSV seemed to be suffering the most came the one of those goals that can dishearten even the most resilient of teams; a cross from the left by Marcel Jansen was met on the edge of the area by Maximilian Beister, who did not hesitate to hit it first time on the volley with his left foot on the half turn and the ball sailed into the net at the far post, with Timo Horn’s dive ultimately helpless.
In the second half, the tables were turned; HSV enjoyed the better chances but Köln made the most of theirs, and got back on level terms 10 minutes after the restart. Djourou’s pass to Rincón in their own half was telegraphed by Adam Matuschyk and the Polish midfielder ran the remaining 20 yards into the area before slotting past Adler. A costly mistake, yet another one by the HSV defence, something which has been a regular occurrence this season. It could have got a lot worse for the hosts as Patrick Helmes’ free-kick smacked against the bar and a Köln upset looked likely, especially when Tolgay Arslan missed a clear chance from close range but Bert van Marwijk brought on Ivo Ilicevic with 15 minutes to go and the Croatian winger only needed ten minutes to make an impression on the game. It was a lucky strike after Milan Badelj’s shot rebounded off Kevin Wimmer and fell to Ilicevic’s feet inside the area all alone and he did not hesitate to tuck it into the far post. Köln hit back straight away and Patrick Helmes’ effort was once again denied by the post. In the end, HSV move on to the next round and Effzeh will be left wondering what could have been.
1.FC Saarbrücken 0 – 2 Borussia Dortmund
It was David vs Goliath at the Ludwigsparkstadion and circumstances indicated that the minnows from the Saarland might have a chance, taking into account the depleted Dortmund defence. However, they never really got going. Dortmund’s dominance in possession was indeed no surprise to Saarbrücken, who enjoy playing on the counterattack, but Dortmund dealt them a bitter blow early on when Julian Schieber headed home from a Jonas Hofmann cross after 19 minutes. It was a bitter blow to the hosts who could not seem to get going as they struggled to get hold of the ball and it could have been much worse, had Schieber’s second goal not been disallowed for a foul, a decision which seemed harsh as Schieber’s contact with Kim Falkenberg seemed minimal. Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both had clear chances to double the lead but Timo Ochs was well positioned to deny them both. All Saarbrücken were looking for was a break and they got it at the end of the first half but Marcel Ziemer’s sliding poke after a long ball into the area trickled past Mitchell Langerak and clipped the outside of the post before it went out.
It seemed that the hosts were still dwelling on the missed chance as they came back for the second half because Dortmund doubled their lead five minutes after the interval. Jonas Hofmann received the ball inside the area from Julian Schieber and hit it first-time into the goal, giving Ochs no option and exposing the Saarbrücken defence who were all ball-watching. It was the coup de grâce that killed the game off because, after it, Dortmund’s ball possession reached levels of 84% and the hosts made little or no effort to search for the goal. The fact that the result remained 0-2 for the remainder of the match was a surprise, as Dortmund’s constant attacking moves could not find the way into the net. For Saaarbrücken it was the end of a dream; for Dortmund, mere shooting practice.
SC Freiburg 1 – 2 Bayer 04 Leverkusen
Despite the chorus on catcalls from the SCF faithful, Leverkusen pulled out a tight win on the road at the edge of the Black Forest. The Bundesliga’s current 2nd place side has now notched back-to-back wins after their 0-5 to Manchester United in the Champions League a week ago. Die Werkself have managed these results without the injured Sidney Sam, who’s been on the Bundesliga’s finest players this season. And Freiburg didn’t make it easy for Leverkusen. Nonetheless, Aussie Robbie Kruse opened the scoring in the first minute as SCF’s Nicolas Höfler’s coughed up the ball, which Kruse nabbed, then beat Baumann for the deflating early goal.
However, 18 minutes later SCF’s other defensive midfiedler, Matthias Ginter, equalized with a header off a Darida cross that landed right between defenders Toprak and Wollscheid. The keeper Leno caught the ball – but he was behind the goal line. After SCF equalized, the match continued tensely with the sides holding possession fairly evenly. at 77′, Leverkusen manufactured the match winner when Rolfes threaded a dangerous pass to former Bayern prospect, Emre Can, who put the ball into the left corner of the goal past Baumann’s stretching save-attempt. The scoreline held in Leverkusen’s favor to the chagrin of the vocal SCF supporters. Ginter led all players with 5 shots in the match. Meanwhile, Leverkusen’s main scoring threats – like Kießling and Son – were under wraps most the match, only registered a couple shots apiece.
VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 FC Ingolstadt 04
Ingolstadt’s revival in the 2. Bundesliga since the arrival of manager Ralph Hasenhüttl has given the team confidence once again. Despite the weekend defeat against Sandhausen (0-2), Ingolstadt arrived at the Volkswagen Arena with full confidence, no one more than Brazilian forward Caiuby, a former Wolfsburg man himself. Wolfsburg started the match with initiative but their attacking moves lacked fluency and did not really trouble the visitors. It couldn’t have been scripted better for the first goal, as Caiuby opened the score against his former employers, coolly slotting past Benaglio after running through on goal. Wolfsburg’s attempts at goal did not increase in danger and Ingolstadt seemed comfortable in defence, with the match going in 0-1 at the interval.
Ingolstadt coped well with the pressure at the start of the second half and even had a chance to increase their lead but it was a mistake by their goalkeeper which condemned them in bizarre fashion. Naldo’s 30-yard effort seemed to take a strange trajectory which was misjudged by Ramazan Özcan in the FCI goal, with the ball slipping under his arms for a 66th-minute equaliser. It was a night to forget for the Austrian goalkeeper as it was ultimately another mistake of his which cost his side the tie. On 89 minutes, substitute Ivan Perisic’s shot was spilled by Özcan straight into the path of fellow Croatian substitute Ivica Olic, who finished from close range to put Wolfsburg ahead and the match to sleep. It was a bitter blow for Ingolstadt and Özcan but a reality check that mistakes are costly when playing against higher-league opposition. It wasn’t the most inspiring of performances by Wolfsburg and it took two strokes of luck for them to get to the next round. Not that they’ll care one bit.
Eintracht Frankfurt 4-2 SV Sandhausen
The highest-scoring tie of the round surprisingly came at the Commerzbank-Arena, as Eintracht Frankfurt survived a scare to beat Sandhausen and move to the Quarterfinals of the DFB Pokal. Someone who won’t forget this night in a hurry is Spanish striker Joselu, whose three goals made all the difference. The former Celta Vigo, Real Madrid Castilla and Hoffenheim man opened the scoring on 19 minutes when he latched onto a cross by Václav Kadlec at the far post and tapped it in from close range. It was a blow for Sandhausen, who three minutes prior had had a clear chance to take the lead, only for Manuel Stiefler to shoot directly at Kevin Trapp’s feet with the whole goal at his mercy. With 1-0 at half time, nothing indicated the madness that was to ensue in the following 45′.
The Eagles doubled their lead five minutes after the restart when Sandhausen’s Nigerian defender Seyi Olajengbesi brought down Takashi Inui inside the area and Joselu duly dispatched the penalty to put his side two up and in the clear… or so they thought. Sebastian Rode committed the cardinal sin of passing back to the goalkeeper without looking, with Kevin Trapp inevitably not being where the young midfielder thought he was and the ball embarrassingly rolled into the net. A moment of madness from Eintracht and they were even more stunned when, two minutes later, Sandhausen were back on level terms, after Simon Tüting’s drive from the edge of the area found the back of the net. The nerves lasted only for a handful of minutes as Kadlec restored the hosts’ lead with a thundering strike from 25 yards. The goal seemed to calm down the match and put Eintracht firmly on the front foot. Chances by Flum and Inui x2 failed to put the game beyond doubt but when Sandhausen keeper Manuel Riemann went up for a last-chance set piece, the ensuing counterattack by the home side ended with Joselu getting his third of the night into the empty goal. In the end, a deserved result based on the second half performance but one cannot help but feel that slightly flattering, as Sandhausen seemed resilient until the deadly goal by Kadlec. All in all, a performance from which both sides will take something from but only one of them will be in the Quarterfinals.
FC Augsburg 0 – 2 FC Bayern Munich
At Augsburg’s noisy ground, Bayern took care of business early with Robben’s left foot. The Dutchman received a layoff from Mandzukic, then beat defender Callsen-Bracker. However, Robben’s first attempt bounced off, but he recovered the ball and finished with a brilliant rebound shot. While Bayern held about 65% possession on the ball, and snuffed out any FCA counter-attacks that ventured close to the box, the scoreline still remained 0-1 in Bayern’s favor until 78′ when Thomas Müller scored as Toni Kroos fed him a cross from the right side. Rumor has it that Pep even cracked a small smile.
Despite the racuous home crowd, FCA just didn’t have any real threats; Hahn created 3 shots, but Mölders was poor and subbed off for Bobadilla at 63′. Augsburg’s strategy was no more sophisticated than fouling the hell out of Bayern (FCA committed 27 fouls, yet only won 35% of their challenges). Accordingly, the offensive numbers were dour in this match: FCA attempted 9 shots, while Bayern only attempted (or perhaps only needed) 11 shots. Augsburg simply lacked the skill to win back balls or distribute the ball effectively. Bayern supporters will happy to know that Ribéry made an appearance (67′) after his injury, but sad to know that Robben was subbed off at 16′ with an injury. Pep stuck with his 4-1-4-1 flex-system with Martinez as the lone pivot instead of Lahm, who rested. Robben, Thiago (who was impressive), Kroos, and Götze led the attacking bank of four with Mandzukic on top. Not a glamorous win for Bayern, but impressive in the inexorable fashion Bayern simply grinds through matches like this with machine-like consistency. A back-to-back treble is certainly on the books.
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