With the Women’s World Cup hitting its second round of group games, the start of both Copa America and Gold Cup, and less than a week until the African Cup of Nations, it would be entirely reasonable if the 2019-20 DFB Pokal was nowhere on your football-mad mind when the competition’s first round was drawn on June 15.
Individual matches have yet to be scheduled, but will all take place from 9-12 August, one week before the Bundesliga starts its new season.
The Big Ticket
There may well be some exceptions, but generally speaking, the 32 clubs hosting first-round fixtures all arrive at the draw hoping to hear the name of one particular club directly following the drawing of their own lot: FC Bayern München.
A visit from Germany’s record champion can stand as an unparalleled prize for a lower-tier earning a bid to the competition. Along with being able to take a shot that would be hear around the footballing world, there is a financial windfall to be had when one of the most-popular clubs in the world comes calling.
With a long cup history that includes several seasons in the Bundesliga and a trip to the final, Energie Cottbus, may not overly be in awe of having drawn Bayern, but for a club saddled with fiscal troubles and having just been relegated out of 3.Liga for the second time in three seasons, a date with the cup holder is more than a little welcome. While supporters are already being asked to purchase souvenir “tickets” to a fictional match to help keep the club solvent, little asking will be required to move all the tickets to their “Stadium of Friendship” for this one.
SV Drocherten/Assel is making their third Pokal appearance in four years. In 2016, the fourth-division club fell 1:0 to Borussia Mönchengladbach. Last year, they managed the same tight result against FC Bayern Múnchen.
They will get their third crack at taking down a big Bundesliga club when FC Schalke 04 pay them a visit.
“Everyone knows Schalke,” says club President Rigo Gooßen about facing the Royal Blues.”It is an eerily interesting draw.”
While not quite the draw that Bayern is considered to be, Borussia Dortmund is easily the next-biggest attraction to potentially come for a first-round visit. Despite this, the BVB fans themselves have reason to be maybe even more excited than their hosts.
While KFC Uerdingen may or may not sound familiar to the average BVB fan, there are few loyal to the Schwarzgelben who are very familiar with one name on their first-round opponent’s roster.
Club legend Kevin Grosskreutz now wears the red and blue of the rising 3. Liga club and may very well be the most-excited person about the fixture you will find.
“I play not only against friends, but also against my family,” said Grosskreutz in his Instagram post celebrating the draw. “I will enjoy this match from the first until the final second.”+
“It is simply awesome.”
“District against District”
When SV Atlas Delmenhorst President Manfred Engelbart heard the name of Atlas’ first-round opponent, he had just one thought: “Don’t fall over”
Atlas will face their Bundesliga neighbor SV Werder Bremen, the preferred Bundesliga club of most Atlas supporters.
Engelbart is hoping Atlas can host Werder at the Weserstadion, seizing on the opportunity for his fifth-division squad to play in front of 40,000 fans and potentially on national television in a venue for which such events are routine. Thought the DFB forbids the exchange of hosting rights, Werder’s stadium is a natural alternative venue for Atlas to host a huge match and likely where they’d have hosted the aforementioned Bayern or Dortmund or even regional would-be rival Hamburger SV.
“The Weserstadion is just 13.5 kilometers from our stadium,” says Engelbart. “Because of that, it is our first-choice alternative stadium, nothing more and nothing less.”
The Atlas Delmenhorst-Werder Bremen tilt is easily the most-proper derby in the first round, but there are several other short trips for travelling fans, including SSV Ulm – 1. FC Heidenheim, 1. FC Kaiserslautern – 1. FSV Mainz, Alemannia Aachen – Bayer Leverkusen, 1. FC Nürnberg – FC Ingolstadt, SC Paderborn – SV Rödinghausen, FC St. Pauli – VfB Lübeck, and SV Waldhof Mannheim – Eintracht Frankfurt.
The upper-division teams are likely largely ambivalent about the first-round draw. The matches themselves are largely a no-win situation, in that if they win, well, that’s exactly what is supposed to happen. If a top-flight club loses in the first round, however, it’s an unqualified disaster. While the matches can serve as a warm-up for the start of the competitive football season, first-round cup matches ultimately become something to endure and survive while fretting over the possibility of losing a player to injury before the main campaign actually starts.
VfB Stuttgart probably was looking forward to a less-stressful first-round draw than they got in 2018, when they were paired with a club located over 800 kilometers north. The travel woes were compounded when the return trip was necessarily spent ruminating on a 2:0 loss to Hansa Rostock.
Unfortunately for the losers of the relegation playoff, Stuttgart must have had a moment of deja vu when their lot was pulled after that of Hansa Rostock. They will now have to hope they have found a defensive match for speedy Hansa winger Cebio Soukou, who gave the hosts a lead in the eighth minute.
While Stuttgart’s journey is the longest road trip of the first round by some distance, several fixtures feature two teams separated by over 500 kilometers, including: SC Freiburg – 1. FC Magdeburg, Energie Cottbus – FC Bayern, SC Verl – FC Augsburg, and Holstein Kiel – FSV Salmrohr.
Minnows Among Minnows
The 32 clubs with hosting rights in the first round always includes four 2. Bundesliga squads and a decent collection of 3. Liga clubs. The rest is largely fourth-division teams from Germany’s five regional leagues, with a few fifth-division Oberliga teams squeaking into the picture.
This year, there is also FSV Salmrohr, carrying the banner for the sixth division. Despite finishing 14th in the 17-team Rheinlandliga last season, Salmrohr proved their tournament mettle by scoring twice in added time in the Rheinlandpokal final to ultimately win their spot in the German Cup from the penalty spot.
Holstein Kiel will travel to the shadow of the border with Luxemburg to face the competition’s biggest underdog.
As Pokal first-timers, VfB Eichstätt is likely happy to just be taking part in the competition, but drawing Hertha Berlin for an opponent definitely brought a little extra joy to the anticipation of the date. As there were just five teams left in the bowl when Eichstätt’s opponent was drawn, supporters were understandably thrilled to have drawn a Bundesliga club for their cup debut.
“Outstanding! A cool draw,” exclaimed VfB striker Fabian Eberle. “We can look forward to a full stadium.”
Other fixtures featuring teams from below the 3. Liga include Chemnitzer FC – Hamburger SV, 1. FC Saarbrücken – Jahn Regensburg, FSV Wacker Nordhausen – FC Erzgebirge Aue, VfB Germania Halberstadt – Union Berlin, FC Viktoria 1889 Berlin – Arminia Bielefeld, FC Oberneuland – SV Darmstadt, TuS Dassendorf – Dynamo Dresden, KSV Baunatal – VfL Bochum, and FC 08 Villingen – Fortuna Düsseldorf.
All 32 first-round fixtures:
Würzburger Kickers – TSG Hoffenheim
FSV Salmrohr – Holstein Kiel
VfB Germania Halberstadt – Union Berlin
1. FC Kaiserslautern – FSV Mainz 05
SV Rödinghausen – SC Paderborn
Hallescher FC – VfL Wolfsburg
SV Atlas Delmenhorst – Werder Bremen
KFC Uerdingen – Borussia Dortmund
SV Sandhausen – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Chemnitzer FC – Hamburger SV
Waldhhof Mannheim – Eintracht Frankfurt
Alemannia Aachen – Bayer Leverkusen
TuS Dassendorf – Dynamo Dresden
FC 08 Villingen – Fortuna Düsseldorf
KSV Baunatal – VfL Bochum
Energie Cottbus – Bayern München
Karlsruher SC – Hannover 96
MSV Duisburg – SpVgg Greuther Fürth
FC Oberneuland – Darmstadt 98
Wehen Wiesbaden – 1. FC Köln
Hansa Rostock – VfB Stuttgart
1. FC Saarbrücken – Jahn Regensburg
SV Drochtersen/Assel – Schalke 04
Viktoria Berlin – Arminia Bielefeld
FC Ingolstadt – 1. FC Nürnberg
SC Verl – FC Augsburg
VfB Lübeck – FC St. Pauli
VfB Eichstätt – Hertha BSC
Wacker Nordhausen – Erzgebirge Aue
VfL Osnabrück – RB Leipzig
1. FC Magdeburg – SC Freiburg
SSV Ulm 1846 Fußball – 1. FC Heidenheim
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