The Round of 16 of the 2012-2013 DFB Pokal. I'm going to turn it around this week and look at the non-Bayern matches of the competition first - if you're just here for Bayern and Augsburg talk, scroll down a few paragraphs.
Elsewhere in the Competition
We've now gone through a couple rounds of Europe's most exciting cup competition, with most of the top 1. Bundesliga sides making it through. Nonetheless, there have been a few upsets. A moment to reflect upon clubs that were sent home by a surprise defeat:
- Hamburger SV, 1899 Hoffenheim, Greuther Fuerth, 1. FC Nuernberg, Eintracht Frankfurt, and Werder were all top-flight teams knocked out by lower-level competition in the first round. For some of these teams (Werder Bremen, HSV) this was a real kick in the teeth, while for others (especially SpVgg Greuther Fuerth) who will end up putting everything they have into an attempt to stay up, it might end up being a good thing. I'd also like to point out that I actually called one of the pair of "4th-division over 1st-division upsets" (Berliner AK beating Hoffenheim). Of course, I also said Augsburg would be good, so ...
- Then, in the subsequent round, there were a lot fewer upsets. 3d-division Karlsruhe and Kickers Offenbach both beat 2d-division opponents. And 'Gladbach went down to Fortuna D in the only battle of top sides. Mostly, though, the big clubs made it through. So, as of now, there are 16 teams left: 11 teams from the top flight; 3 from the 2. Bundesliga (including 1860 Munich, who are lurking as a potential Allianz-derby opponent down the road), and the same pair from the 3d-division.
There are 8 matches to be played this round. By the numbers, we could break them down into 3 categories:
4 of them feature top-flight teams battling one another: Dortmund vs. Hannover (could be interesting, but it's at the Signal-Iduna and you have to figure Klopp will be fielding his best team); Schalke vs. Mainz (Schalke in disarray after sacking their manager, but these teams did play in the same stadium less than 3 months ago, with S04 destroying them 3-nil); Bayern vs. Augsburg (more on this in a minute); and VfL Wolfsburg vs. Leverkusen (who cares).
Then there's a match-up between a pair of 2. Bundesliga sides, with Bochum hosting 1860 Munich. This one appears, at first glance, to be uneven: 1860 is in 7th place in the 2. Bundesliga standings, still very much alive in the fight for promotion. Hertha and Braunschweig are way clear in the top 2 spots, but as far as that 3d spot (which leads to a play-off for possible promotion), 1860 is only a few spaces back. Bochum, meanwhile, are barely keeping their heads above water in 15th, with every club below them in the table currently in a relegation spot.
Upon closer look, though, this could be an interesting match. Despite being separated by 9 spots, 1860 has won only once more than Bochum. And their away form (this one will be held at Bochum's rewirpowerSTADION), is not impressive, with only 2 wins and a -1 goal differential. Finally, Bochum has won 2 straight, most recently a 4-0 demolition of Paderborn. So, in short, I think this one could go either way. One of these 2d-level clubs will get a ride to the quarterfinals without ever having had to face a top-level team.
Finally, we have 3 theoretical mismatches. Karlsruhe hosts Freiburg (who, amazingly, are up to 5th in the top flight - SC Freiburg's only loss since October was to FC Bayern). Kickers Offenbach will host Fortuna D, who has fallen pretty hard since their early good run, until they recently stabilized things by winning 2 of their last 3. And Koeln, who stunk it up so bad last year and then lost their only good player, will travel to Stuttgart. For some reason, I have a feeling we'll see one upset out of this trio. Any guesses? Check the poll at the bottom.
I'll just knock this out quickly, because we're less than 24 hours until match time. My guess:
Shaqiri - Kroos - Robben
Tymoschuk - Schweinsteiger
Alaba - van Buyten - Boateng - Lahm
Robben was able to take part in a practice recently, but I'll admit that's a hunch. Javi Martinez is said to be OK after taking a shot in the face, but I think he'll be held out as a precaution. I guess Rafinha could see action as well. Who knows. We'll have the line-up as soon as it becomes available tomorrow.
- We kick off at 8:30 PM Augsburg time, and at the following time in your current area:
Time converter at worldtimebuddy.com
(click the button if it doesn't appear right away). There are 2 matches before ours, with Schalke vs. Mainz highlighting the early slate.
- They're calling for rain and fairly cold temperatures tomorrow, so dress warm if you're headed to the match.
- Thursday is the draw for the next round of the CL. Needless to say, we'll be here to follow that live, so stay tuned all week. Thanks for reading.