Berlin is just one win away. Just 90 minutes separate the four DFB Pokal semi-finalists from a final in the Olympiastadion at the end of May. The semi-finals will be played next week: Borussia Mönchengladbach meet Eintracht Frankfurt on Tuesday and on Wednesday, defending champions Bayern München play Borussia Dortmund in a repeat of last year’s final. We take a look at the key facts ahead of the two games.
THREE BECOMES FOUR: Since the round of 16, teams are allowed to use one extra substitute if the game goes into extra time.
74TH FINAL IS THE AIM: The history of the DFB Pokal began in 1935 when it was called the Tschammer-Pokal. Therefore, the cup is now in its 74th year. 25 different clubs have lifted the cup. Essen (Schwarz-Weiß and Rot-Weiss), Munich (FC Bayern and TSV 1860) and Vienna (Austria Vienna and Rapid) are the only three cities from which two different clubs have lifted the trophy.
THE TROPHY: DFB Pokal trophy is exactly 52 centimetres high and weighs 12.5 pounds. Experts believe the material worth of the trophy to be around €100,000. The cup has been loaned out since 1965 and was crafted by the Köln goldsmith Wilhelm Nagel. There is currently space to engrave the winners’ names until the year 2020.
HAWK-EYE IS WATCHING YOU: Goal-line technology will be used in both semi-finals. There are two necessary requirements for the use of Hawk-Eye: the technology needs to already be available in the stadium, which it is in the 18 Bundesliga grounds and secondly, the match ball which the home team decides to use must be compatible with the technology.
NOVICES VS. EXPERTS: The home teams in the semi-finals, Gladbach and Bayern, are yet to be involved in a penalty shoot-out in the DFB Pokal this season. The two away sides, however, have had two each already. Frankfurt won on penalties against Magdeburg and Ingolstadt and Dortmund needed penalties to beat Union Berlin and Hertha Berlin.
28 POKAL TITLES: All four semi-finalists have won the DFB Pokal before. This last happened in 2014. However, there has never before been a semi-final line-up where all four teams have won the Pokal on two previous occasions. This year, however, Bayern have 18 Pokal titles, Frankfurt 4 and Dortmund and Gladbach both 3.
GOALLESS: Will there be a penalty shoot-out? Both Bundesliga games between Gladbach and Frankfurt this season ended 0-0 – that’s never before happened between two Pokal semi-finalists since the beginning of the Bundesliga.
END OF THE ROAD: This will be Mönchengladbach’s 11th appearance at the semi-final stage of the DFB Pokal. The last three semi-finals have spelled the end for Gladbach – the last one being the 4-2 defeat to Bayern on penalties in 2011/12.
TEN SHOTS ON TARGET: Despite two of their matches going to extra time, Frankfurt have had the fewest shots of the semi-finalists (41). They’ve only had ten shots on target in the whole competition and they haven’t had more shots than their opponent in any of their DFB Pokal matches so far this season.
LAST LINE OF DEFENCE: Frankfurt‘s Lukas Hradecky has saved more shots than any other keeper in this season’s competition (20) and has saved 91% of the shots he’s faced. In addition, only four of ten penalties have got past him, including in penalty shoot-outs.
POKAL HEAD COACH: Gladbach’s head coach Dieter Hecking has won ten of his last eleven DFB Pokal matches. He could reach the final for the second time in three years having won the Pokal with Wolfsburg in 2015, beating Dortmund 3-1 in the final.
CLINICAL FROM THE SPOT: No other team has scored more penalties than Borussia Mönchengladbach in this season’s DFB Pokal. They have scored three.
FIGHT IS KEY: Frankfurt have won 616 duels in this year’s competition, more than any other team.
EXCITEMENT GUARANTEED: In five Pokal games (and in all of the last three) between Bayern and Dortmund, the game has gone to extra time and three of these five matches have been decided on penalties (two wins for Dortmund, one for Bayern).
BAVARIAN OMEN: Dortmund and Bayern have met in the last six DFB Pokals in a row which is a record. Every time that Bayern have knocked Dortmund out, they’ve won the competition (2013, 2014 and 2016).
SEMI-FINAL EXPERTS: Dortmund have won their last six DFB Pokal semi-finals. Dortmund were last knocked out at the semi-final stage in 1986, losing 4-1 to Stuttgart.
RECORD, BUT... Dortmund could reach their fourth consecutive DFB Pokal final. That would be a knew record. However, they have lost in each of the last three finals.
BATTLE OF THE STRIKERS: Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski is the top scorer in this season’s DFB Pokal with five goals. Martin Harnik (Hannover) and Hamburg‘s Bobby Wood both have four, but their clubs are now out. No player still remaining in the competition has more than two goals in the Pokal this season. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who leads the Bundesliga goalscoring charts along with Lewandowski on 26 goals, is yet to score in this season’s DFB Pokal.
SOLID: Especially impressive is the defence of Borussia Dortmund. In their last 23 DFB Pokal away matches, they haven’t conceded more than one goal. Dortmund have kept a clean sheet in 18 of these 23 games.
OFFENSIVE POWER: Bayern have the best attack in this year’s competition having scored twelve goals.
WASTEFUL VS. CLINICAL: Bayern have the worst record of the four semi-finalists when it comes to converting big chances (37.5%). Dortmund (50%). Frankfurt (66.7%).
MINIMALISTS: Eintracht Frankfurt have only scored four goals so far in the competition. The last team to reach the last four with so few goals was Nürnberg back in 2007. They had only scored three goals by the time they reached the semis. They beat Frankfurt 4-0 in their semi-final that season before going on to win the final 3-2 AET against Stuttgart.
LONG TIME AGO: Borussia Mönchengladbach last reached the final back in 1994/1995 after beating Kaiserslautern 1-0 in the semi. Gladbach beat Wolfsburg 3-0 in the final to win their last major title.