It's time to pick up where we left off in everyone's favorite competition that's also an anagram for "Polka," the DFB-Pokal. Bayern head up north to play a struggling Hamburg team that are so desperate, they're considering hiring Felix Magath.
That's really all that needs to be said about the current forms of both teams, because in truth, Bayern could be in late-2010-style shambles and have, realistically, no trouble with this Hamburg team.
Last season, HSV looked sort of similar but got a handful of great results against some of the top clubs and darn near got a European place out of the campaign. They retained Thorsten Fink as manager and entered this season a little optimistically, but after only picking up 4 points in their first 5 matches, he was sacked and replaced by Bert van Marwijk at the end of September.
Immediately after the replacement, van Marwick's team got five points from their next three matches and looked to be on the right track, but they haven't won since. Their two victories on the season have come against teams they'll be fighting in the relegation battle and both have been by large margins, which could be meaningful down the stretch run.
Things kept deteriorating on and off the field as turmoil within the club in regards to their financial situation came to a head in their annual members' meeting, where new methods of revenue collection were voted on, ending with the members deciding to sell around 25% of the club's shares at a certain price for some more funds.
There has also been talk for years about a certain billionaire named Klaus-Michael Kühne injecting money into the club, but there has been apprehension about moving away from the traditional German model of club structure.
Most recently, the team looked like mere ghosts on the field as Hertha Berlin put three goals past them at home, prompting many of the same fans who took a long lunch to go cheer on the players at training to blockade the car park and prevent the HSV men from leaving the Imtech Arena.
What began as a plea to talk to the supporters escalated into things being thrown and insults being hurled, with the entire crowd chanting "We are Hamburg and you're not" at one point.
An emergency supervisory board meeting was called and after 8 hours, nothing was decided. It was confirmed that Felix Magath had been contacted via telephone, but that was about it.
So here we are, van Marwijk leading the team into this fixture against Bayern that will almost surely see HSV eliminated from their last chance at winning a trophy this season.
For Bayern, it should be a good match to give certain players like Xherdan Shaqiri, Javi Martinez, Claudio Pizarro, Bastian Schweinsteiger, and Rafinha some minutes since those players are either starters returning from injuries or second-teamers who will be needed down the stretch run of the season.
Franck Ribery, it was announced, will be out at least through the first leg of the Arsenal tie, which means he'll return against Hannover at the soonest.
This should be a good time to try out playing different people on the left in advance of the Arsenal fixture, to see if there's a better option than an out-of-position Arjen Robben.
Expect Toni Kroos to feature as Pep will likely see his punishment for his tantrum against Stuttgart as finished, and also because one would assume Guardiola would like to use Kroos against AFC given his steadiness in the midfield and his performance last season against this North London side.
Some new transfer rumors have surfaced about Kroos, from the only media less reliable than the English one, the Italian press. Matthias Sammer says that Bayern are a buying club and not a selling one, dismissing the rumors surrounding Dante and Kroos especially as bull excrement.
Back to what's happened on a football pitch, Bayern dispatched of rivals 1. FC Nürnberg easily after a difficult opening sequence which saw Der Club get very unlucky with near-misses and injuries to two players, forcing Verbeek's hand early on.
Goals from Mandzukic and Lahm, of all people, were plenty and the Reds maintained their 13-point lead on second place Leverkusen.
Now for some particulars:
When: Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1:30 p.m. CST, that's 20:30 local time in Hamburg.
Where: Imtech Arena, Hamburg
Kits: White-red-blue for HSV and Bayern typically wear their third kits when playing there, so the blue ones for FCB.