August 2010: Upsets, shocks and triumphs: the DFB Cup is different

Bayern Munich has not only won a record 22 league championships but the Bavarians have also dominated the “Deutschen Fußball Bunds ” (DFB - German Football Association) cup competition like no other club. Munich has already won the cup 15 times and has only lost twice after reaching the final. The second most successful club before the start of the 2010/2011 season is six-time winner SV Werder Bremen. Four clubs, 1. FC Nuremberg, Eintracht Frankfurt, 1. FC Cologne and FC Schalke 04, have lifted the trophy on four occasions. But it’s upsets that add spice to the cup. Fans start to buzz when minnows from the lower leagues take on and down one of the favourites and it’s these giant killing acts that make the cup so special.

Eintracht Trier knocked Schalke and Dortmund out of the 1997 cup competition. Champions League winners BVB were beaten 2-1 in the last 16. Möller falls to the ground. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

Bayern have chalked up wins en masse in the cup, but they, before the start of this season’s cup campaign against TSV Germania Windeck (Monday, 16 August), have also been on the receiving end. Vestenbergsgreuth and the summer of 1994! Bayern had just won their 13th league championship. Franz Beckenbauer had replaced Erich Ribbeck as team coach in winter and then proceeded to guide the club to the league title. Italian Giovanni Trapattoni had just taken charge. The first round of the cup at third division TSV Vestenbergsgreuth was viewed as being a competitive practice match but it ended in a loss of face. Munich lost 1-0 against the rank outsiders in front of a 24,000 crowd in Nuremberg’s Frankenstadion. “That was a massive disgrace and we’ll have to live with the ignominy,” railed Lothar Matthäus. Bayern had been knocked out, Vestenbergsgreuth beat second division FC Homburg 5-1 in the second round and then only lost after a penalty shoot-out against VfL Wolfsburg, another second division side. The club fused later with SpVgg Fürth to become SpVgg Greuther Fürth. It wasn’t the first time Bayern had suffered at the hands of an underdog. In 1990/91, the Bavarians were also eliminated from the competition after losing 1-0 to the third division club, FV Weinheim.

“The cup is different.” It’s one of those simple pearls of wisdom along the lines of the sayings made famous by the former German national coach Sepp Herberger. “The ball is round” or “The next game is the most important one.” Sensations, surprises, upsets and giant killers: Hamburger SV has also suffered its fair share. It started with a 2-1 away defeat in October 1974 at VfB Eppingen, which was at the time a incredible result as Hamburg were topping the Bundesliga and doing well in the then UEFA Fairs Cup. In 1984, one year after winning European Cup against Juventus, they lost 2-0 against third division SC Geislingen. The 4-3 defeat at the hands of the Stuttgarter Kickers in 2006 and the 7-5 loss after a penalty shoot-out against the then third division VfL Osnabrück in the 2009/2010 season are two other lows in the club’s history. At the time one year ago HSV were heading the Bundesliga. Osnabrück then went on to shock another first division club when beating Borussia 3-2 in the last sixteen.

Osnabrück‘s Barletta scores with a bicycle kick to help the third division club to a 3-2 cup win against Dortmund. They had beaten Hamburg in the previous round. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

Bayern, HSV, Dortmund, Cologne and Schalke: all have suffered at the hands of underdogs

Two-time cup winners Dortmund were also on the receiving end of a shock back in 1990 when they lost 3-1 at fourth division SpVgg Fürth. The shock was made worse by the fact that the minnows were forced to play with 10 men after one of their players was sent off in the second minute. But it didn’t stop the amateurs from causing a sensation. In the previous year, Dortmund, who were the cup holders, were knocked out by the then second division Eintracht Braunschweig in the second round. It was only a minor surprise as top clubs often come unstuck at ones in the division immediately below. And Dortmund’s 1997 cup exploits put them back in the headlines and Eintracht Trier entered the DFB Cup’s history books. Schalke had just won the UEFA Cup and Borussia Dortmund the Champions League. Third division Eintracht managed to consecutively beat both winners of major European titles. Trier, who were top of the Regionalliga West table, first overcame Schalke 1-0 in the second round before going on to beat Dortmund’s 2-1 in the last 16. “A tough relegation battle has now begun. Players that don’t understand the fact should move to another club,” said German international Jürgen Kohler. The team coached by Nevio Scala then did fall well short of what people expected of them.

VfB Stuttgart lost 13-12 after a penalty shoot-out SV Sandhausen. One of the rare occasions Marc Ziegler had to pick the ball out of the net so often. (Photo: Baumann/Augenklick)

1. FC Cologne is also a candidate for the cup’s curiosity cabinet. In 1993 they were knocked out by Bayern Munich’s amateur team 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out. One year later Bayern II also stopped Bremen and VfB Stuttgart. But back to 1. FC Köln, who in 1995 came unstuck at fourth division SpVgg Beckum when losing 4-3 after another penalty shoot-out. At the same time, Stuttgart went down 13-12 after penalties at the Regionaliga club SV Sandhausen. In 2000 Cologne lost to 1. FC Magdeburg, who then beat Bayern 4:3 in the penalty shoot-out. Seven years later, Cologne were eliminated 4-2 by Werder Bremen’s amateur team.

The DFB Cup, which has been played for since 1935, really is different. The fact that it is a knock-out competition which can go to nail biting penalty shoot-outs often increases the suspense enormously. Clubs from lower divisions sometimes have sufficient fitness and concentration for a single match and they can cause top clubs problems. The 2010/2011 edition of the DFB Cup will again no doubt provide its fair share of shocks.