For Dortmund it’s a question of priorities but some of the Bundesliga’s sleeping giants will welcome their sole shot at glory. And can Lotte upset the odds again? Here’s what to look out for in this week’s cup games.Can Lotte hit the jackpot again?
The last 16 of the German Cup features seven teams from outside the top flight but there’s no doubt that Sportfreunde Lotte are the darlings of this season’s competition. The tiny club from Germany’s north-west were in the regional leagues until last year but have already seen off Bundesliga heavyweights Bayer Leverkusen and Werder Bremen. The 10,000 capacity Frimo Stadion is sure to be rocking once again on Wednesday for the visit of 2nd division 1860 Munich. The Bavarians, who made a high profile appointment earlier in the week, have struggled for consistency this term and lost again at the weekend. A division may divide the teams but there are only 11 places between them in the league pyramid. The home side will fancy their chances of making the last eight.
Who will Tuchel pick?
A win over a Leipzig and suddenly things are looking up again at Dortmund. Their inconsistency in the Bundesliga means Thomas Tuchel’s side can all but write off the title for another year and also means the Champions League seems an unlikely goal. Which leaves the German Cup. BVB squeaked through in the last round, requiring penalties to see off Union Berlin. In that match, Tuchel fielded a side peppered with fringe players and almost paid the price. Making the same move against Union’s city rivals Hertha would be a bold move. Pal Dardai’s side are solid and fit and the Hungarian coach has said he’s looking to take the match in to extra time. Tuchel must balance his desire for fresh first teamers with the hunger for silverware. Contrary to the normal thought process, perhaps the Bundesliga game against doomed Darmstadt on Saturday is a better opportunity to rest players ahead of the resumption of the Champions League, against Benfica, on February 14.
Will struggling mid-table trio take it seriously?
The same questions of priority apply to a host of the Bundesliga’s mid-table sides. Schalke may have their own European adventure but they – along with Borussia Mönchengladbach and Wolfsburg – must see the German Cup as their only chance of glory in seasons that have been various shades of underwhelming. Wolfsburg have a daunting task when they visit Bayern Munich on Tuesday but Schalke (away to Sandhausen on Wednesday) and Gladbach (away to Greuther Fürth on Tuesday) will both expect to progress. This underachieving trio all finished in the Bundesliga’s top 8 last term, they all look relatively safe from relegation (though Wolfsburg must still look over their shoulders) and Europe seems a long shot. A cup exit and many fans will feel their season is over before the end of February.
Can Hannover prove their Bundesliga credentials?
Two of last season’s underachievers meet in Hannover on Wednesday and both have turned their form around. Hannover were wretched in finishing bottom of the Bundesliga last term but have bounced back to top Bundesliga 2, while Niko Kovac’s Eintracht Frankfurt are third in the top tier after surviving in the relegation play off last time round. For Hannover this is a chance to prove they belong back at the table while the Eagles will want to maintain their momentum as the business end of the season approaches.