With announcement of the Bundesliga fixtures for the upcoming season set for Tuesday and the men’s national team preparing to battle Italy in the semi-finals, the first round draw of the DFB Cup is far from being the leading story for most fans of German football.
The tournament, however, is not without its own set of charms and plot lines. The tradition of having the teams from the top two leagues play on the road in the first round ends up delivering world-class talent to the home fields of lesser-known and, sometimes, amateur clubs. It can be an exciting day filled with dreams of an historical upset the fans can cherish for a lifetime.
With apologies to the almighty Rolling Stones…
“Look at me! I’m in tatters!“: Karlsruher SC – Hamburger SV
The only first-round pairing featuring teams who have both hoisted the cup as victors is also a rematch of the 1956 final, a time both teams will recall fondly in compare to their most-recent efforts.
When Karlsruhe defeated Hamburger SV 3:1 in Wildparkstadion, it secured the KSC’s second-consecutive championship, while also marking their last appearance in the final.
Hamburg has fared much better since that defeat, winning three titles (1963, 1976, 1987) and finishing as runners-up twice.
Both clubs are looking to the coming Bundesliga campaign with hopes for improvement. HSV narrowly avoided losing its distinction as being the only team to have played in the Bundesliga every year since its inception. The 15th place finish was their lowest since the inception of the league.
Karlsruhe, after spending most of the 2011/12 campaign in the relegation zone, lost their playoff with Jahn Regensburg, meaning the KSC will be making their 3. Liga debut in a few weeks.
“I need a shot of salvation…“: Rot-Weiss Essen – Union Berlin
For the second consecutive year, the Berliners of 1. FC Union will travel to Essen to face Rot-Weiss in the first round.
If the two squads can even come close to repeating the events of their 2011 meeting, you’d do well to score yourself a ticket to the match.
Essen took a 1:0 lead in the 22nd minute and appeared to have ended the debate with a second goal in minute 71.
Union found inspiration as the minutes grew small, pulling a goal back in the 82nd minute and then balancing the ledger deep in injury time.
The game was ultimately decided on penalties, with RWE keeper Dennis Lamczyk stopped two of Unions attempts, including one struck by Simon Terrode, who had given his Berliners a chance at the second round with his late equalizer.
“I can see that you’re so far from home…“: FC Augsburg – SV Wilhelmshaven
Since both they and Bayern are in the top tier, FC Augsburg knew they wouldn’t be getting a short trip to Munich for the first round. Nor would they be visiting second league participant Ingolstadt, who is also located less than 100 km from Augsburg’s home stadium. Probably a bit much to hope for SpVgg Unterhaching, located just south of Munich, making it a similarly short trip for players and supporters.
In their ideal scenario plotting, they probably were a long way away from hoping to draw SV Wilhelmshaven. The round trip to play the amateur side will log the Augsburgers over 1600 km of travel for their first-round efforts alone.
They can only admire the travel fates of SC Paderborn (Arminia Bielefeld), Borussia Mönchengladbach (Alemannia Aachen), and Dynamo Dresden (Chemnitzer FC) who all find themselves fewer than 80 km from their opening opposition.
“Oh, a storm is threatening…“: SSV Jahn Regensburg – FC Bayern Munich
Regensburg, having come out on top in their promotion/relegation play-off with Karlsruher SC just a few weeks ago, is certain to have a rosy outlook upon prospects of competing in 2. Liga in the upcoming campaign.
What better way to celebrate than to invite 15 time cup champion Bayern to your home field for a late summer test?
Not only is Bayern coming off the dubious double (runners-up in both the Bundesliga and in the DFB Cup, both times losing out to Borussia Dortmund) for which they likely are anxious to make amends, but they are also adding talent the way Bayern does every summer. Additionally, forwards Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery might be looking to work out some Euro 2012 frustration from their national clubs’ lack of success.
There is not much Regensburg can do to avoid the German giants from visiting with a bit of a chip on their shoulder, but it’s probably for the best that they don’t have a black-and-yellow kit.
“I feel so humble with you tonight…“: FC Oberneuland – Borussia Dortmund
Usually, two separate smaller clubs get the honor of hosting a defending champion in the opening round of the tournament. When a team achieves the double, as did Dortmund last year, it’s double the honor for half the number of hosts.
This season, it will be amateur side FC Oberneuland hosting both the Bundesliga champions and the DFB Cup winners in a single, talent-laden package.
A simple message on FC Oberneuland’s official website says it all: “We are really looking forward to this game.”
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