By David Hein
Berlin (dpa) – Defending champions Bayern Munich hope to avoid a slip-up against motivated neighbours Augsburg in this week’s German Cup matches, while Borussia Dortmund face a tricky tie at third division Saarbruecken.
The Augsburg v Bayern derby is one of three all-Bundesliga encounters in the round of 16, which will be played out on Tuesday and Wednesday. There are also three games featuring first division sides against second division teams, as well as one showdown between Bundesliga 2 opponents.
Bayern, who hope to get back the injured duo of Franck Ribery and Xherdan Shaqiri against Augsburg, have collected a record 16 German Cup titles and know that Augsburg will be hungry to slay the treble-winning giants on Wednesday.
“For Augsburg, this is the game of the year. They want to aggravate us,” said Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.
“We are all just people, not machines. We have a lot of trips in our legs and we’re starting to get tired.”
Augsburg lost to Bayern 3-0 in Munich on November 9, but they have since collected four straight points in the two matches – without conceding a goal.
In the other all-Bundesliga cup matches, Freiburg host Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday, while Hoffenheim head to five-time cup winners Schalke on Tuesday after twice losing two-goal leads in a wild 4-4 draw at home against Werder Bremen at the weekend.
Three-time winners Borussia Dortmund face a potentially dangerous encounter at the tournament’s only remaining third division side – Saarbruecken. Dortmund not only have a number of injury concerns, but they also have a history of being upset in this stage of the competition.
Marco Reus, Sven Bender, Jakub Blaszczykowski were the latest players to join Dortmund’s ever-growing injury list at the weekend and may miss Tuesday’s match.
“We have to see who we can even bring to Saarbruecken on Tuesday. We were nice enough to injure ourselves down to a level that will make it an exciting competition,” said Dortmund manager Juergen Klopp wryly.
Klopp also knows the upset-nature of the competition, and his club has faced its share of surprises in the past.
In 1997, for instance, Dortmund were the reigning Champions League winners but lost at third division Eintracht Trier in the round of 16. In the 2009-10 cup, Dortmund went out against second division Osnabrueck in the round of 16 and were bounced in the second round of the 2010-11 cup by third division side Kickers Offenbach.
Saarbruecken have reached the cup semi-finals three times, the last time coming in the 1984-85 season, when they knocked off Stuttgart in the round of 16.
The week also offers two intriguing Bundesliga v Bundesliga 2 matches.
SV Hamburg and second division leaders Cologne, who square off in Hamburg on Tuesday, have collected seven German Cup crowns between them, but none since Hamburg won their third title in 1987.
A year later, Eintracht Frankfurt collected their fourth crown and on Wednesday they will take on Sandhausen at home.
Armin Veh’s Frankfurt side this season has experienced a true tale of two leagues. They have secured first place in their group and a spot in the Europa League Last 32, but remain mired on the edges of the relegation zone in the Bundesliga with a nine-match winless streak.
The other top flight v second division tie is Wolfsburg at home against Ingolstadt on Wednesday, while Union Berlin host two-time winners Kaiserslautern in the sole all-Bundesliga 2 match-up on Tuesday.
The draw for the February 11-12 quarter-finals will take place Sunday at 4 pm local time (1700 GMT).