The road to Berlin continues Tuesday Night as four matches take place in the German Cup. Sixteen teams remain in the competition with last season’s Champions Schalke 04 and German powerhouse Bayern München being just two of the twelve teams from the first division remaining. 2. Bundesliga leaders Fortuna Düsseldorf and 2nd placed SpVgg Greuther Fuerth are the most notable of the five 2. Bundesliga teams remaining. Holstein Kiel are the rank outsiders being the only team left representing Germany’s 3rd division. Christmas is coming a little early for German soccer fans as Round 3 is guaranteed serve up some of the most entertaining matches in the competiton thus far.
VFL Bochum vs Bayern München
At the halfway point of the Bundesliga season, Bayern München topped their difficult group of death in the UEFA Champions League and finished first in the Bundesliga. Things have gone to plan for Bavarians so far. The exact opposite can be said for 2. Bundesliga side VFL Bochum. The side hailing from the North of Westphalia finds itself middle of the table in Germany’s 2nd division. This is a surprise to many since expectations of challenging for promotion to the first division were predicted before a ball was kicked in August. Despite the disappointing start to the season for Bochum, they are beginning to hit stride as they’ve collected thirteen points from their last seven 2. Bundesliga matches, which is three points more than what they’ve amassed in their first thirteen matches. With the improved form of Bochum and absence of Bastian Schweinsteiger, expect Bayern to start all of their regulars since this will be their last match before winter break.
Last time these two teams met in Bochum was a little more than two years ago. Bayern won 5-1 at the rewirpower STADION and expect to see a similar result Tuesday which happens to be four days from Christmas. Franck Ribery and company will be baking some VFL Bochum holiday cookies and that is not a good thing if you bleed blue and white. The directions involve throwing all of the ingredients in a bowl and beating them for 90 minutes + stoppage time.
Bochum 0 Bayern 5
FC Nürnberg vs SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Unlike Bochum, Greuther Fürth have defied all odds and find themselves in fine position going into winter break — only two points behind 2. Bundesliga leaders Fortuna Dusseldorf. The 2nd place team travels to the Easy Credit Stadion for what should be an intriguing fixture against the 2007 DFB Pokal Champion Nürnberg. This will be the first time the two Bavarian based clubs will meet in the DFB Pokal. Being a local derby, more than just a place in the next round is at stake. Neither team has met since 2009 dating back to when both sides were in the 2. Bundesliga. In that match, Furth’s Stefan Reisinger canceled out a Dario Vidosec strike in the 57th minute ending the match in a 1-1 draw. History favors “Der Club”. Head-to-head all time FCN have won nine, drawn eight, and lost three against their green and white neighbors.
This is one of the most evenly matched games of the round despite the difference in divisions. In fact, this could be a preview of the Bundesliga relegation playoff match. Dieter Hecking’s squad was depleted in the summer due to the amount of players returning to their original clubs from loan. Since then they have been unable to patch these holes and are a place above the relegation zone, thanks to their surprising victory at the Bay Arena Saturday. I expect this match to be settled after 120 minutes on penalties with Furth coming away winners. But when it comes to the relegation playoff at the end of the season, expect a rejuvenated and inspired FC Nürnberg to win the two legged fixture.
Nurnberg 1 Greuther Furth 1 (Furth advance on penalties)
TSG 1899 Hoffenheim vs FC Augsburg
Being realistic, this is the only shot at silverware for both teams this season. While lifting the Bundesliga Shield is not a realistic dream for either Holger Stanislawski nor Jos Lukuhay’s men, advancing to the 4th round of the DFB Pokal is. While Augsburg have been spent most of their time near the bottom of the standings during their inaugural Bundesliga season, Hoffenheim have been bouncing up and down in the table like a five year old on a trampoline. Unless you are a supporter of either team, you probably don’t remember Hoffenheim’s 2-0 defeat of Augsburg earlier this year. A much more memorable match between these two teams dates back to the last time the villagers and Bavarians met. In fact that match was a DFB Pokal match which saw an exciting 2-2 draw settled after 90 minutes. An own goal from FCA’s Dragan Paljic would be the deciding goal that evening. Sejad Salihovic capped off the dramatic win for Hoffenheim adding another late goal ensuring Hoffenheim’s passage to the next round with a 4-2 victory.
In the first round of the competition Augsburg triumphed over lower division sides Rot-Weiss Essen and Red Bull Leipzig. The end of the road for Augsburg in this competition is near as they get ready to face the club backed by Dietmar Hopp’s wallet. I predict another two goal victory for Hoffenheim but in normal time. Vedad Ibisevic’s return from injury could not have come at a worse time for Augsburg, a hat-trick from Hoffenheim’s #19 will be the knockout punch for the Bavarians in the tournament.
Hoffenheim 3 Augsburg 1
Fortuna Düsseldorf vs Borussia Dortmund
Arguably the most exciting match of the 3rd round pits potential 2.Bundesliga Champions Fortuna Dusseldorf against defending Bundesliga Champions Borussia Dortmund. The match will be played at the Esprit Arena in Dusseldorf, a place where the home side has only lost one match all season. In fact the loss came Friday night when SC Paderborn outlasted the 2. Bundesliga leaders in a five goal match that ended 3-2. This was Dusseldorf’s first home loss since October 27, 2010. Rattled by the upset, it will be interesting to see how F95 respond to this bump in the road.
On the other side of the pitch, Borussia Dortmund’s season has been just short of excellent with the Champions League group stage performance serving as the team’s only black mark. The reigning Bundesliga Champions are in good form coming off a dismantling of relegation bound SC Freiburg on Saturday. Two Robert Lewandowski strikes paired with goals from Ilkay Gündogan, and Kevin Grosskreutz capped a brilliant win for BvB and retained their 2nd place position in the league. The win was hampered by the injury of centre back Felipe Santana who will be missing for the 3rd round cup tie. In addition to Santana, Dortmund will be without Neven Subotic, Sven Bender, Moritz Leitner, and rising star Mario Götze all of whom are injured. All of these players are key players for Dortmund and will be missed in this match.
Borussia Dortmund 4 Düsseldorf 2
***Look for part 2 tomorrow***