At this point, Bayern Munich have won the DFB Pokal so many times that it seems almost foolish not to bet on the German heavyweights to win the tournament in 2016. The Bavarians have won this event 17 times and finished second thrice. The next most successful football club in the history of the event is Werder Bremen, with six wins and 10 finals appearances. Borussia Dortmund, meanwhile, Bayern’s toughest opponents in the Bundesliga, have only won the German Cup title three times.
Still, surprises do happen. Last year, Bayern Munich barely made it through the quarterfinals, having to beat Bayer Leverkusen in a penalty shootout after a scoreless 120-minute match. The German champions subsequently lost another penalty shootout to Dortmund in the semifinals, missing out on a chance to win a third consecutive title in the DFB Pokal. Wolfsburg went on to beat Dortmund in the finals and win the cup.
Bayern Munich’s Semifinal Guarantee
Wolfsburg lost to Bayern Munich all the way back in the round of 32, which means that someone different will be taking home the title this year. Right now, the Bavarians have to be considered the frontrunners: the football club is pushing to win the treble this season, as a means of closing out Pep Guardiola’s tenure in epic style.
Bayern also have the easiest draw in the quarterfinals. They’ll be facing VfL Bochum, a second-tier team that finished 11th in 2. Bundesliga last season. Suffice to say that the Bavarians are at least safe until the semifinals.
In fact, there is a good chance that the semifinals of the 2015/16 DFB Pokal will be comprised of the current top four clubs in the German Bundesliga: Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Hertha Berlin, and Bayer Leverkusen.
A Good Bet for Dortmund
Bayern, with their eight-point advantage in the Bundesliga and easy draw in the Pokal quarterfinals, are a virtual guarantee. Borussia Dortmund have almost equally great odds. With 44 points in the Bundesliga (to Bayern’s 52), Dortmund aren’t likely to win the domestic league, but will probably finish a strong second. Such a performance would already be a big improvement over the soccer club’s seventh-place finish last season. Winning the German Cup would only provide further evidence that Thomas Tuchel has turned things around at BVB.
Tuchel’s soccer squad will face off against Stuttgart in the DFB Pokal quarterfinals. Unlike Bayern’s opponent, Stuttgart are a top-flight team. However, Stuttgart haven’t beaten Dortmund since 2010 and are currently skirting the red zone in the Bundesliga. BVB also beat Stuttgart 4-1 earlier this season. Bottom line, expect to see the Black and Yellows in the semis.
Hertha Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen
Hertha BSC also have an easy quarterfinal draw. The Berlin football club are drawn against second-tier squad FC Heidenheim. Heidenheim outranked VfL Bochum slightly in the 2. Bundesliga last season (eighth place to 11th), but will still probably fall significantly short of Hertha Berlin. Hertha are currently in third place in the Bundesliga, trailing 10 points behind Dortmund.
Probably the least one-sided of the German Cup quarterfinal draws is the match-up of Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen. Bremen, of course, have a strong history at the DFB Pokal, having won the event six times, most recently in 2009. However, the River Islanders are currently facing relegation in the Bundesliga, having won just five regular season games throughout the 2015/16 campaign. Bayer Leverkusen, on the other hand, are in fourth place in the Bundesliga and nearly ousted Bayern Munich in this round of the German Cup last year.
If there is one reason to bet on Werder Bremen here, it’s that the River Islanders beat Borussia Monchengladbach to reach the quarterfinals in the first place. That game, arguably the best in the tournament so far, saw the River Islanders scoring four goals in the second half to win 4-3. Could Werder Bremen be a dark horse contender to win this year’s DFB Pokal, in spite of their Bundesliga troubles?
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