June 29, 2017

DFB Pokal 4th Round Previews and Predictions

Football in Germany is bubbling with intensity this year as four teams are still in contention for the Bundesliga title. Three of those teams remain in Germany’s Cup Competition competing to complete a magnificent Double. Defending Champions Schalke 04 were knocked out last round after a loss at Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Powerhouses Bayern Munchen and Borussia Dortmund barely squeaked past their 2nd division opponents. Hertha Berlin, 1899 Hoffenheim, and VfB Stuttgart triumphed after hard fought battles with other first division sides. 2nd division SpVgg Greuther Fürth ousted 1. FC Nürnberg in the Bavarian Derby and underclass heroes Holstein Kiel lived to fight another day after shocking 1. FSV Mainz. With places in the semi-final awaiting the victors of the DFB Pokal 4th round, the stakes have been raised, the blood flow has increased, and the tension is at an all time high in the Germany’s Cup competition.

Tuesday features the improbable Holstein Kiel hosting the in-form Borussia Dortmund side led by Jürgen Klopp.  A live stream will be available to American viewers on ESPN 3 beginning at 2:30 pm ET.  Wednesday’s contest between Hertha Berlin and Gladbach will be streamed at 1:00 pm ET, and the Stuttgart-Bayern tilt will be steamed at 2:30 pm ET.

Holstein Kiel/Borussia Dortmund

The 4th round of the DFB Pokal opens Tuesday night in an unlikely city. Few could have predicted the Cinderella story of Regionalliga side Holstein Kiel. As incredible as it sounds, either Holstein Kiel or BvB will be on track for an emphatic double after they clash Tuesday evening. Holstein Kiel remains in the same place as they did before their 3rd round upset of 1.  FSV Mainz, in 2nd place behind Red Bull Leipzig. This will be the team’s first match following the Winter Break. Borussia Dortmund jumped into first place after their Friday night win at 1. FC Nürnberg coupled with Saturday draws from Bayern, Schalke, and Gladbach. While Kiel will be well rested from the break, Dortmund has only been heating up after the break outscoring their opponents 10-2 in three games. In this true match-up of David versus Goliath, one has to wonder if Kiel can realistically take down the Bundesliga Champions.

Many opponents fear traveling to Signal-Iduna Park to face the yellow wall and their 80,000+ fans. Thankfully for Kiel, the Storks are at home, a place in which they have not lost at home this season in the DFB Pokal. Just over 11,000 will be in attendance to witness the first ever meeting between these two clubs. Many in the Holstein-Stadion will have hopes of preserving the club’s undefeated record at home. Betting parlors favor Dortmund heavily and with good reason. Being realistic, Kiel won’t be able to hang with the Bundesliga leaders. Kiel will go down but will go down fighting.

PREDICTION:
Holstein Kiel 2 Borussia Dortmund 5

1899 Hoffenheim/SpVgg Greuther Fuerth

SpVgg Greuther Fürth faces another vulnerable Bundesliga side as they travel to Rhein-Neckar Arena for a 4th round battle with the villagers known as 1899 Hoffenheim. Fürth started their Rückrunde on a sour note with a 3-1 loss Friday evening in Dresden. Whether the team was just rusty from the Winter Break or too busy thinking ahead to Wednesday’s match, the loss dropped their position to 4th in the 2. Bundesliga table. Although Hoffenheim didn’t lose their weekend fixture against Augsburg, the team lost one of their top scorers during the January transfer window, Vedad Ibisevic. Despite the Bosnian’s departure, Hoffenheim still boast a solid array of talent. The team is only a few points from the relegation zone, making a relegation playoff in May against Hoffenheim realistic but not likely. Fürth should match up well against the villagers which should make for an entertaining match and I think they will advance. I have not seen anything too special this year from Hoffenheim to convince me they deserve to be semi-finalists in the league cup.

PREDICTION:
1899 Hoffenheim 2 SpVgg Greuther Fürth 2 (Fuerth advance on penalties)

Hertha Berlin/Borussia Moenchengladbach

Both Hertha Berlin and Borussia Möchendladbach are coming off disappointing weekend results. Wolfsburg and Gladbach earned a point after a frustrating 0-0 draw in the Volkswagon Arena while Hertha Berlin feel to Hannover 96 in a lackluster 1-0 result. Forgetting about the weekend’s results, die Fohlen have been a hurricane sweeping teams by their side in the Bundesliga. Hertha haven’t been in the same strides as their Wednesday night opponents. In league play, the team has not won a match since October 29 of last year. Although there is a significant difference in quality between the two teams, the last meeting was fairly close. On November 5, 2011 Borussia Mönchengladbach bagged their first away victory all season in the Berlin Olympiastadion in a close 2-1 victory. Adrian Ramos fired the capital side ahead after 18 minutes, but a brace from Marco Reus was enough to earn Gladbach all 3 points in the tense 2-1 victory.

Going by the last ten meetings between both teams, nearly 3 goals are produced every time each team faces each other.   As to current form, though, the Berliners have only scored once in three post-winter break league matches while Gladbach have only allowed 12 goals in 20 matches, the lowest total in the Bundesliga this season and gives Lucien Favre and his players a chance to break Bayern Munich’s all-time Bundesliga record for least goals allowed in a season.  Expect another close match but in the end Gladbach will prevail by the slimmest of margins.

PREDICTION
Hertha BSC Berlin 0 Borussia Mönchengladbach 1

VFB Stuttgart/FC Bayern Munchen

Searching for their 2nd win in nine games, VFB Stuttgart take on FC Bayern München. . Despite Stuttgart’s disgraceful form, now is the time Bayern looks there for the taking. Even with a healthy squad, Die Roten hasn’t looked as sharp as they did at the start of the season. The Bavarians opened 2012 with a 3-1 loss to Borussia Mönchengladbach. A week later, they earned an unimpressive three points at home against Wolfsburg, and followed up this Saturday with a draw against relegation fighting Hamburg SV.

On the other side of the ball, Bruno Labbadia and his players haven’t been able to strike a balance between attacking and defending this season totaling a (+3) goal difference accounting for all competitions. Stuttgart took action over the break by signing lethal striker Vedad Ibisevic and offloading deadweight Russian Pavel Pogrebnyak.

This fixture is the most exciting of the bunch and perfectly explains why it is Wednesday’s primetime match. In recent history, Bayern has bullied the Swabians winning seven of ten previous meetings. Two of them were DFB Pokal encounters. In the 2008-09 DFB Pokal 3rd round, Bayern smashed through Stuttgart with an emphatic 5-1 victory at the Mercedes-Benz Arena. A year later in the competition, same round same stadium. Stuttgart was once again at the mercy of Germany’s record champions losing 6-3. This is a hard match to predict, but going by history Bayern will pick up another win just not in the same fashion as previous years.

PREDICTION
VFB Stuttgart 2 FC Bayern München 3 (After extra time)

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