Round of 16 draw
Following Wednesday’s conclusion of the intriguing second round of the DFB-Pokal, the round of 16 fixtures were drawn Sunday. Beginning in the round of 16, all remaining clubs are placed in the same pot. This means that there are no restrictions on which clubs can be drawn against one another, but there is one absolute certainty: given that SC Paderborn are a 3. Liga side, they were to be given home advantage regardless of the outcome of the draw. Aside from Paderborn, all 15 other clubs still remaining in the Pokal belong to either the Bundesliga or 2. Bundesliga, so the hosts of the other seven matches were decided by which club was drawn from the pot first. The Pokal’s round of 16 will be played on December 19-20, 2017 and marks the beginning of the Bundesliga’s Winterpause, with the Hinrunde ending on December 17th.
The round of 16 matchups are as follows:
1. FSV Mainz 05 – VfB Stuttgart
FC Bayern München – Borussia Dortmund
Werder Bremen – SC Freiburg
SC Paderborn – FC Ingolstadt
1. FC Nürnberg – VfL Wolfsburg
1. FC Heidenheim – Eintracht Frankfurt
Borussia Mönchengladbach – Bayer 04 Leverkusen
FC Schalke 04 – 1. FC Köln
Surely, the most eye-catching fixture generated by today’s draw is FC Bayern München against Borussia Dortmund. This matchup rarely fails to produce a DFB-Pokal classic. Now that these two sides have been drawn against each other once again, this will be the seventh consecutive season in which there is a DFB-Pokal meeting between German football’s two strongest sides. In the previous six clashes, the spoils have been shared. Der BVB beat Bayern in the semifinals of both the 2014-15 and 2016-17 seasons, while also winning the final in 2011-12 via a convincing 5-2 victory. In both the 2015-16 and 2013-14 seasons, der Rekordsieger overcame Dortmund in the finals, in addition to notching a quarterfinal win in the 2012-13 season. Coincidentally, this match will be the fourth consecutive DFB-Pokal meeting in which Bayern have a home advantage, excluding the finals, which are, of course, always played in Berlin.
While Werder Bremen against SC Freiburg does not have the same notoriety as a Bayern-Dortmund clash, the DFB-Pokal home record of die Grün-Weißen is significant and will give the struggling Bundesliga side a great deal of confidence. Werder Bremen have not been defeated at home in the DFB-Pokal since 1988. They have succeeded in advancing to the next round in each of their last 36 DFB-Pokal matches at the Weserstadion.
VAR to be introduced in the quarterfinal
While most chatter surrounding the DFB-Pokal will be about the mouth-watering clashes produced by the draw, there is other news that is certainly worth mentioning: beginning the in the quarterfinal round (February 6/7th) , the VAR (video assistant referee) system will be implemented in this competition for the first time. Not all fans are fond of the video review, but the technology does have a greater value in the Pokal, given that all matches are a one-off affair.
The particularly large controversy of the second round, the penalty that was awarded to RB Leipzig by referee Felix Zwayer and then changed to a free kick based on the advice of a linesman, was, in fact, called correctly, but Zwayer could have had more assurance if the VAR system were at his disposal. Leipzig were later awarded another penalty, which, this time, was not taken away, after Youssof Poulsen went down following a challenge by Jerome Boateng. Still, this decision did not go uncontested; after the game, FC Bayern defender Mats Hummels referred to Zwayer’s decision as “the queen of make-up calls.”
No technology in the world will succeed in pleasing all fans and players, but in the DFB-Pokal, the introduction of the VAR system should help to ensure that the most deserving sides advance to the next round.
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