The DFB cup competition showed itself from its best side – it was the talk of the millions of German football fans. Shocks on the pitches were followed by a blockbuster draw for the next round. Pulled out of the glass bowl by Lira Bajrami, there are some top matches in prospect in the quarterfinals to be played on 25 and 26 January. “I like that,” said the women’s World Cup winner when looking over the games in store in the next round: FC Schalke 04 v Kickers Offenbach or 1. FC Nuremberg, Energie Cottbus v TSG Hoffenheim 1899, Alemannia Aachen v FC Bayern Munich and MSV Duisburg v TuS Koblenz or 1. FC Kaiserslautern. The last encounter on Wednesday, 22 December had only just been decided 30 minutes prior to the draw being made. It was one of the evening’s three big cup shocks. Aachen had just won 5-3 on penalties against Eintracht Frankfurt after the scores had been level 1-1 after 120 minutes in front of a capacity crowd in the Tivoli Stadium. Scoreless after 90 minutes, the second division club eventually continued their march through the Deutschen Fußball Bund’s (DFB – German Football Federation) cup competition after their second round upset against Mainz.
Four clubs from the top division failed to progress after losing to promotion seeking clubs from the league immediately below. Energie Cottbus won 3-1 (3-0) at VfL Wolfsburg. MSV Duisburg travelled to and beat 1. FC Cologne 2-1 (1-0). And the fourth encounter of the second evening of cup matches three days before Christmas was full of twists and turns. There were nine goals in the match between the two big southern German rivals VfB Stuttgart and cup holders Bayern Munich. The ninety minutes ended in a 6-3 win for the Bavarians. And it was even more spectacular than the Bundesliga game three days before in the Mercedes Benz Stadium which Bayern had won 5-3. Munich went 2-0 up, Stuttgart drew level just before half time, Bayern scored again to lead 3-2, the home team were reduced to 10 men after Khalid Boulahrouz was sent off, missed a penalty but still equalised (3-3). However the record German championship winners upped their game once again to score three goals to give them a 6-3 win. A second Stuttgart player was given a second yellow card just before the final whistle. Bayern have now been drawn away against Aachen where they were dumped out the cup (4-2) in December 2006.
The day before (Tuesday, 21 December) had seen Schalke overcome second division leaders FC Augsburg 1-0 (0-0) and Hoffenheim down Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-0 (1-0) to reach the round of the top eight teams. Matches on the same day between the third division clubs Offenbach and Koblenz and the two Bundesliga clubs Nuremberg and Kaiserslautern respectively were postponed due to the massive amount of snow on the pitches. The games will now be played on 18/19 January. Should the third division clubs win they will have home advantage in the quarters. Offenbach would meet Schalke in their Bieberer Berg stadium and Koblenz would host Duisburg in the Oberwerth Stadium. The scheduling is not at all easy as Schalke and Duisburg are by no means certain to stage the quarterfinal matches. They would only have a week for ticket sales should Nuremberg and Kaiserslautern get through.
Second division stops first division: Aachen are the cup specialists
There were real disgraces for Frankfurt, Wolfsburg and Cologne who all lost to lower league opposition. Frankfurt battled valiantly after having Pirmin Schwegler sent off in the 14th minute. Goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann saved a penalty taken by Marco Höger, top Bundesliga goal scorer Theofanis Gekas had two clear-cut chances to put his team 1-0 up in the ninety minutes and Eintracht then pulled back a 1-0 deficit in extra time. But then in the penalty shoot-out, Alex Meier hit his effort over the bar. Alemannia’s first four penalty takers all converted to leave Benjamin Auer to wrap up yet another victory for Aachen’s cup specialists. The Tivoli crowd went wild.
The wins for Cottbus and Duisburg, who both won away, weren’t celebrated in quite the same style even though 8,000 MSV supporters travelled to Cologne. They watched their team gain a highly deserved win. “We could have won 4 or 6-1, said defender Benjamin Kern. Cottbus were just as convincing in Wolfsburg. However Energie fans in the 10,800 crowd went on the rampage and Cottbus coach Claus-Dieter Wollitz stormed over to where they were standing at half time to criticise them for their behaviour which included throwing fireworks and smoke bombs.
The teams propping up the Bundesliga were all eliminated. Nobody in Cologne, Stuttgart and Gladbach was in the mood any longer for the Festive Season. The three clubs, who are all in the drop zone, will be in for an uncomfortable winter break. And it’ll be no different in Wolfsburg, where coach Steve McClaren is taking the brunt of the criticism for not getting to grips with his lethargic team which has lost its shape since he took over. Club officials in Gladbach are stressing that Michael Frontzeck will stay in office in spite his team’s weak performances. Cologne had already replaced Zvonimir Soldo with Frank Schaefer a few weeks ago. After sacking Jens Keller, Stuttgart has suffered two defeats against Bayern under new coach Bruno Labbadia and conceded 11 goals in the process. And the draw, whereby teams from the third division will enjoy home advantage, made by Lira Bajramaj, a member of the women’s German national team, looks likely to produce more shocks for the fans to talk about on 26 January.