SV Werder Bremen’s 1-0 victory at SSV Jahn Regensburg did not come as a surprise for experts or normal football fans; a Bundesliga side beating a second-tier team is the norm for the DFB-Pokal, despite the supposed ‘magic of the cup’. However, that’s not the only thing that is the norm in the cup, as Werder Bremen reaching the semi-finals has also become a frequent occurrence in the tournament’s history. Florian Kohfeldt’s team will take on RB Leipzig on 30th April (20:30 CEST) in the 78th edition of the competition since it was founded in 1935. Werder Bremen have reached the last four 23 times since it was founded, meaning they have reached the semi-finals in 30% of the seasons they have taken part in the cup.
This figure is only bested by that of incumbent champions FC Bayern Munich, who have made it to the final in 40% of the seasons they have competed (a total of 31 seasons in the competition’s history). However, this year has proved an exception to the rule for the Bavarians following their second-round elimination by Holstein Kiel. Another regular semi-finalist is present in the final four of this year’s DFB-Pokal in the form of Borussia Dortmund, who host giant-killers Kiel. BVB are playing their 15th semi-final in the tournament’s history and therefore sit in joint-fourth spot in the overall rankings along with Hamburger SV. Schalke 04 complete the cup’s final four elite group, residing in third place with 20 appearances in the semi-finals. The fact that they sit ahead of their rivals Dortmund in this regard will come as a small relief to the relegation-threatened side from Gelsenkirchen.
Werder first reach semi-finals in 1942
While Dortmund have grown into cup heavyweights in recent times, contesting their sixth semi-final in the last ten years, Werder’s successful history in the DFB-Pokal has deeper roots. The side from Bremen went far even during the early days of the Tschammer-Pokal, with their first appearance in the last four coming during the Second World War in 1942 when the Green-Whites lost 2-0 to eventual champions Schalke. Both goals were scored before half time, but the losing side were able to read the following about themselves in kicker afterwards: “Especially in the second half, Werder Bremen showed that they were worthy semi-finalists and are a team who have mastered modern football.” It was the first of twelve total defeats for Bremen at this stage, while they have progressed to the final on ten occasions.
Werder, who first won the trophy in 1961, only missed out on the semi-finals in one year from 1988 to 1994. The last time they got to this stage of the cup was just two years ago in 2019, when they were defeated by 3-2 by FC Bayern following a controversial penalty won by Kingsley Coman. They have brought the sought-after cup back to Bremen six times, most recently in 2009. This year, they face RB Leipzig with a place in the final in Berlin at stake. For the young club from Saxony, it is only their second semi-final appearance in the DFB-Pokal. The first and only time they reached the final four was also in 2019 when they beat Hamburger SV 3-1 to reach the final.
Borussia Dortmund last won the DFB-Pokal in 2017 and can look back on a strong recent history in the competition, having won their last six semi-finals in the competition to reach the final. The last time BVB lost a semi-final in the cup was in 1986 when they were defeated by VfB Stuttgart. History does not speak as strongly for second-tier Holstein Kiel, who have only reached one semi-final in their history before this one. Similar to Werder’s first appearance in the final four, it also took place during WW2 and saw them lose, though by the more convincing scoreline of 6-0 in 1941. History would suggest the tie going in Dortmund’s favour, however as past experiences have shown, anything can happen in the DFB-Pokal!
Clubs with the most DFB-Pokal semi-final appearances
Bayern Munich 31x
Werder Bremen 23x
Schalke 04 20x
Borussia Dortmund 15x
Hamburger SV 15x
Eintracht Frankfurt 14x
1. FC Köln 13x
1. FC Nürnberg 12x
Fortuna Düsseldorf 12x
Borussia Mönchengladbach 11x
1. FC Kaiserslautern 11x