How can you not get romantic about football?
A match such as this means much more than how it appears on paper. If one were to look at how the two teams compare, they would be blinded by the greater narrative this match has. Only a disaster will prevent Bayern Munich from losing to FC Nöttingen, but Nöttingen could care less.
Local media is calling it the biggest match in the history of the club, a club that has gone to the DFB-Pokal only twice before. The talk coming from the players is about what player they want to swap jersey with, not what the result means for the season. What this match means for the club and what it means for the town is much more important than what it means on the scoresheet.
The result of this match will be a squashing off a small club, but it will also be a master class for amateurs trying to continue their football careers.
The Match (1st Meeting)
Location: Wildparkstadion, Karlsruhe, Germany
Head: Dr. Robert Kampka
FC Bayern: 0 W, 0 D, 0 L – 0 YC, 0 Y/R, 0 RC
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Television and Streaming:
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The DFB-Pokal is a competition Pep Guardiola takes very seriously, but fifth-tier competition makes this match more of a final preparation for the Bundesliga season. Nöttingen is certainly the lowest level competition Guardiola has faced in his time in Germany, and if he is going to field rotation players against Rot-Weiß Erfurt, he certainly will against Nöttingen.
That said, the quality Bayern has in reserve is staggering. The squad was missing seven players in the Audi Cup – eight in the final with Kimmich's absence – and yet Bayern were still able to field several world class players and put together respectable performances. Although several reserves got a good look this preseason, Guardiola does not have to lean on them like he did a year ago.
Against a team that will want to put everyone behind the ball, Guardiola will want to widen the play. The way he executed that in the preseason was to have Philipp Lahm and Juan Bernat to pay in midfield. Both will boss the flanks as Thiago Alcantara and Arturo Vidal help build up the play.
Though Guardiola used two very different teams in the first round the past two years, the constant was Thomas Müller, playing behind Bayern's striker du jour. However, he and Douglas Costa played 135 minutes at midweek, and while both are young and vibrant, Guardiola may be more inclined to leave both out. Arjen Robben sat out the week to prepare for the weekend fixture, and with Mario Götze in form, Guardiola's need to play the two is greatly diminished.
Bayern's task will be to find a way to get the first goal, but that opening goal will remove the keystone that will collapse Nöttingen's structure.
Projected Lineup (Diamond 3-1-4-2):
Robert Lewandowski – Arjen Robben
Juan Bernat – Thiago Alcântara – Arturo Vidal – Philipp Lahm
David Alaba – Dante – Jérôme Boateng
Bench: Manuel Neuer, Medhi Benatia, Rafinha, Joshua Kimmich, Pierre-Emile Højbjerg, Douglas Costa, Thomas Müller
Out/Suspended: Holger Badstuber (thigh), Jan Kirchhoff (ankle), Javi Martínez (knee), Franck Ribéry (ankle)
If you are trying to figure out how small the club is, let us put it this way: the highest competition the club has ever played in during their 58 year history is in the Regionalliga Süd which, at the time, was the more diluted tear of German football. Their home stadium is not big enough to host a DFB-Pokal event, and their manager Michael Wittwer played for the club at one point while being an assistant coach for the Karlsruher SC reserves.
Nöttingen needed a very rotten run of form to go back down to the Oberliga Baden-Wüttemberg, but they still managed to hang on in the Badischer Pokal to appear in the DFB-Pokal for just the third time. The disappointment from season's past appears to be behind them, Nöttingen winning all of their friendlies in preseason and beating 1. FC Birkenfeld 5-0 in the Badischer Pokal last weekend.
The biggest casualty of their relegation was Niko Dobros (7 goals, 6 assists), who elected to stay in the Regionalliga by joining Kickers Offenbach. Wittwer was able to recruit Eray Gür from Karlsruher SC II this summer though, as well as Kaiserslautern academy product Theodor Bräuning and Karlsruhe University attendee Colin Bitzer.
One can guess Wittwer will try to compact as much space as he can and hope the cheering crowd can drive the club to score at the other end. A crack will cause the damn to break in a big way though, especially converted midfielder and captain Timo Brenner now in central defense.
Projected Lineup (4-4-2):
Michael Schürg – Niklas Hecht-Zirpel
Mario Bilger – Marc Schneckenberger – Theodor Bräunching – Eray Gür
Simon Franks – Holger Fuchs – Timo Brenner – Colin Bitzer
Bench: Andreas Dups, Mario Hohn, Thorben Schmidt, Felix Zachmann, Niklas Kolbe, Reinhard Schenker, Leutrim Neziraj
Just the mere difference in experience will make this match incredibly one-sided. The best Nöttingen can do is pack the penalty area to shield themselves from the barrage of goals they will take. How Bayern's midfield moves will be interesting to watch, as will the involvement of Bayern's defensive players. A big victory will come, but considering the event, Nöttingen players and fans do not care.
Projected Score: FC Nöttingen (0-7) Bayern Munich
The Other Action
BFC Dynamo (0-2) FSV Frankfurt
Erndtebrück (0-5) SV Darmstadt 08
Elversberg (1-3) FC Augsburg
Viktoria Köln (2-1) 1. FC Union Berlin
SV Meppen (0-4) 1. FC Köln
Hallescher FC (0-1) Eintracht Braunschweig
Stuttgarter Kickers (1-4) VfL Wolfsburg
Sportfreunde Lotte (0-3) Bayer 04 Leverkusen
MSV Duisburg (0-5) FC Schalke 04
Würzburger Kickers (0-2) SV Werder Bremen
FC Erzgebirge Aue (1-0) SpVgg Greuther Fürth
Bremer SV (0-3) Eintracht Frankfurt
TSV 1860 München (2-0) TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
SSV Reutlingen vs. Karlsruher SC (Saturday, 2:30 PM ET)
Holstein Kiel vs. VfB Stuttgart (Saturday, 2:30 PM ET)
Carl Zeiss Jena vs. Hamburger SV (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET)
Balinger SC vs. SV Sandhausen (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET)
HSV Barmbek-Uhlenhorst vs. SC Freiburg (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET)
Chemnitzer FC vs. Borussia Dortmund (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET)
FSV Salmrohr vs. VfL Bochum (Sunday, 8:30 AM ET)
VfB Lübeck vs. SC Paderborn 07 (Sunday, 10:00 AM ET)
Rot-Weiss Essen vs. Fortuna Düsseldorf (Sunday, 10:00 AM ET)
FK Pirmansens vs. 1. FC Heidenheim (Sunday, 10:00 AM ET)
SpVgg Unterhaching vs. FC Ingolstadt (Sunday, 10:00 AM ET)
Hansa Rostock vs. 1. FC Kaiserslautern (Sunday, 12:30 PM ET)
Hessen Kassel vs. Hannover 96 (Sunday, 12:30 PM ET)
Energie Cottbus vs. Mainz 05 (Sunday, 2:30 PM ET)
Arminia Bielefeld vs. Hertha Berliner SC (Monday, 12:30 PM ET)
VfL Osnabrück vs. RB Leipzig (Monday, 12:30 PM ET)
VfR Aalen vs. 1. FC Nürnberg (Monday, 12:30 PM ET)
FC St. Pauli vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach (Sunday, 2:30 PM ET)