Unlike the FA Cup, the DFB-Pokal in Germany sees the country’s biggest teams enter the tournament at the first round. As a result, lower league sides can welcome Champions League contenders to grounds capable of holding 100s of supporters rather than tens of thousands.
Regionalliga West side SVRödinghausen’s reward for defeating Dynamo Dresden in the first round is a game with Bayern Munich, a huge draw for a side that was playing in the ninth tier less than a decade ago. The DFB-Pokal always sees the lower ranked team host the game, so Bayern’s bus will be travelling to the 2,489 capacity Hacker-Wiehenstadion on Tuesday night.
Bayern head coach Niko Kovac has decided to use the game to have a closer look at four youth players, with Meritan Shabani, Paul Will and Wooyeong Jeong joining the senior panel, while goalkeeper Christian Fruchtl could be in line to start due to Sven Ulreich’s absence. Manuel Neuer’s deputy will play no part as his wife is due to give birth.
However, despite the young players joining up with the senior squad, Kovac will probably field a starting XI of familiar names, especially after Bayern Munich had to battle to beat fourth-tier side SV Drochtersen/Assel in the first round.
The same is true of many teams, who will continue to play their strongest sides or have limited rotation. The DFB-Pokal is a great way to qualify for Europe, as shown by Eintracht Frankfurt’s run to the trophy last season.
Wolfsburg could see Congolese defender Marcel Tisserand get a rare start this season, but coach Bruno Labbadia is likely to keep faith with Wout Weghorst in attack as they look to overcome Hannover. Hertha Berlin travel to Darmstadt, having been given a tricky draw in the second round. They will have some rotation as they look to compete for a European spot via the Bundesliga and are likely to see former Manchester City youth Javairo Dilrosun back in the first team.
Borussia Dortmund face Union Berlin on Wednesday, with defender Lukasz Piszczek ruled out. That could see a shift in the back four, with the possibility of Raphael Guerreiro starting at left-back or else Omer Toprak be given a rare start. Marius Wolf is also in contention to start in midfield, while Mario Gotze could be retained after finally breaking into Lucien Favre’s lineup.
Favre was reluctant to give much away in his pre-match press conference, hinting at the possibility of rotation but making no firm commitments: “There will probably be a few changes, but that’s not certain yet.”
He did confirm that star striker Paco Alcacer was back in training, but is unlikely to risk him in the cup with Borussia Dortmund challenging for the Bundesliga title thanks to Bayern Munich’s inconsistent form.
The big news emerging from the Werder Bremen camp ahead of their tie with SC Weiche-08 is the imminent debut of American teenager Josh Sargent. The forward was not eligible to play last season as he was under 18, but is finally on the verge of breaking into the Werder squad after impressing with their under-23 panel. He is currently trading at £1.39 here.
“Josh has been playing regularly for the Under-23s and now he’s fighting for a place in the first-team squad,” coach Florian Kohfeldt told reporters at the pre-game press conference. “We’ll see when he can achieve that.”
Wednesday also sees the two biggest games of the round take place as RB Leipzig host Hoffenheim and Borussia Monchengladbach take on Bayer Leverkusen. With places in the last 16 on the line, expect all four teams to stick with their big names to try to advance