The romance of the Cup...except in Germany
The German football season kicked off this weekend with the first round of the DFB Pokal, when a raft of amateur teams get the opportunity to play at home against teams from the first and second divisions. Last season 1 FC Saarbrücken, then in the Regionalliga Südwest, got all the way to the semi finals of the competition before losing to Bayer Leverkusen. With a handful of games still to be played the lack of upsets this season is palpable and probably has a lot to do with the absence of fans creating an intimidating atmosphere in support of the amateur teams. Another factor could well be that nearly all those teams outside the top three divisions have not played a competitive game for almost six months. The DFB always gives the home advantage to the lower league teams, but this years it amounted to very little. The net effect of all thIs is that only two teams, both playing in the fourth tier Regionalliga Südwest, were able to prevail against teams from the second division. SSV Ulm beat Erzgebirge Aue 2-0 on Saturday whilst on Sunday Elversberg had a convincing 4-2 victory over St Pauli. The only other upsets on opening weekend were Eintracht Braunschweig, promoted into Bundesliga 2 last season, beating Hertha Berlin in a wild 5-4 game and Wehen Wiesbaden edging past FC Heidenheim 1-0, which is less of an upset than it may seem given that both teams were in the same division last season. The tone was set on Friday night when Havelse went 1-0 up against Mainz, but then conceded five in the second half. Elsewhere Holstein Kiel won 7-1 at Rieslasingen-Arlen, Leverkusen put seven past Norderstedt, as Augsburg did at Eintracht Celle. Borussia Mönchengladbach went one better and beat Oberneuland 8-0. None of this bodes well for 1. FC Düren of the fifth tier Mittelrheinliga who take on European champions Bayern Munich on Thursday night. Should the home team improbably prevail it would undoubtedly be the greatest upset ever in the history of German football.