The roles are clear in the match-up of Bundesliga leaders and champions Bayern Munich and second-tier 1. FC Heidenheim in the DFB-Pokal quarter-finals on Wednesday 3rd April (KO 18:30 CEST). Anything other than a commanding and clear progression for the 18-time DFB-Pokal champions would be a footballing miracle. But, as we all know, anything can happen in the Cup!
Head coach Niko Kovac’s team almost found this out in the first round of the competition. The Munich outfit fielded what was close to their best team against fourth-tier side SV Drochtersen/Assel, but ran into a lot of difficulties and could only clinch a win through a Robert Lewandowski goal in the 81st minute. The match ended 1-0.
Bayern’s cup losses to second-tier sides came quite a long time ago, but they did happen. Most recently, FCB had to give up their cup run in the quarter-finals of the 2003-4 season after losing 2-1 to Alemannia Aachen. There have only been two losses at home to sides from lower divisions in Bayern’s history – a 5-4 loss against VfL Osnabrück in the 1978-79 season and a 4-2 defeat after extra time against FC Homburg in the 1991-92 season.
These results should give the guests from Heidenheim some courage heading into the match, especially after they proved their aptitude for the Cup, beating Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 in the round of 16. The club also reached the last eight in the 2015-16 season. Reaching the semi-finals, however, would be a first for Heidenheim.
Heidenheim managed to cause a cupset for Leverkusen, but to beat FC Bayern, Frank Schmidt’s team need a cup sensation. “We’re delighted to be in the quarter-finals and to be playing against the record champions. Of course, a home game would have been better for us, especially against these top-class opponents, who are, on paper, a mile ahead of us,” says Heidenheim chairman Holger Sanwald. “Nevertheless, the team will give their all to make this David vs. Goliath duel as difficult as possible for Bayern.”
With nine points, 17 goals scored and only one conceded over the last three matches before the international break, Bayern are clearly back on track to retaining the Bundesliga title. After a 2-1 win at home against 1. FC Union Berlin, Heidenheim are quietly hoping for a spot in the promotion play-off.
If the DFB-Pokal isn’t being shown in your country, we’ve got you covered! Watch all four quarter-final matches here.