Here’s a guide to everything you need to know about the DFB-Pokal ahead of this weekend’s action.
DFB-Pokal 2020/21 Preview
What Is The DFB-Pokal?
The Deutscher Fußball-Bund (DFB) Pokal is Germany’s equivalent of the FA Cup. Launched in 1952 as a replacement for the Tschammerpokal (1935-43), the competition is considered the second most important title in German club football with the champion earning a spot in the following season’s Europa League.
Unsurprisingly, Bayern Munich are the most successful side in the competition’s history. The Bavarian giants have won 20 cups from 24 finals – including three of the last five editions – whilst their nearest rivals, Werder Bremen, have six.
Like the FA Cup, the DFB-Pokal is a straight knockout competition. However, unlike the FA Cup, all of the 64 participating teams are involved from the first round.
The 36 Bundesliga and 2.Bundesliga teams automatically qualify, alongside the top four finishers from the previous 3.Liga season. 21 spaces are awarded to the cup winners from Germany’s regional competitions – the Verbandspokale – whilst the final three berths are given to the regional associations with the most football teams (currently Bavaria, Lower Saxony and Westphalia).
Ahead of the first round draw, the teams are split into two pots of 32. The regional qualifiers, 3.Liga sides and bottom four finishers from the 2.Bundesliga occupy pot one and are awarded home advantage; the second pot contains the remaining professional sides.
The two-pot system is also used for the second round if any 3.Liga or amateur teams progress whilst a single pot is used from the last 16 onwards. 3.Liga and amateur teams are always awarded home ties when drawn against professional opposition.
What Happened Last Year?
Defending champions Bayern Munich defeated Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin to complete their 13th domestic double. David Alaba, Serge Gnabry and Robert Lewandowski (two) were on target for Bayern whilst Sven Bender and Chelsea signing Kai Havertz grabbed consolation goals for Leverkusen.
However, the biggest story of the competition was 1.FC Saarbrücken’s run to the semi-finals. The Regionalliga Sudwest outfit became the first fourth division team to reach the last four in DFB-Pokal history, upsetting FC Köln and Fortuna Düsseldorf before bowing out at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen.
2020/21 DFB-Pokal: Pick of the Ties
Reigning champions Bayern Munich are the only Bundesliga side not in action this weekend. Following their Champions League triumph, their trip to 1.FC Düren has been postponed until mid-October.
Of the 31 remaining fixtures, 2.Bundesliga side Karlsruher SC have the best opportunity to cause an upset when they face Union Berlin on Saturday. RB Leipzig face a potential banana skin trip to second tier 1.FC Nürnberg whilst Eintracht Frankfurt – the 2018 champions – have a tricky tie against Bundesliga founders 1860 Munich.
It should otherwise be a routine weekend for the Bundesliga teams who should all expect to be in the second round draw on September 20th.
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