Bayern Munich will host Werder Bremen, Hertha BSC will face Borussia Dortmund – the four remaining teams in the DFB Cup all have different hopes going into the semi-final encounters on Tuesday/Wednesday, 19/20 April. Bremen wants to rescue its season, Bayern is going for the treble, Hertha is dreaming of its first final at home in Berlin and Dortmund will be looking not to end a magnificent season without a trophy. Thrilling matches are guaranteed.
Berlin, Bayern, Bremen, Borussia – four teams are still in the hunt for the national B-title. The A-category trophy – the championship shield – appears to be almost certainly destined to land in Munich. However in the DFB Cup, the three other contestants - Hertha BSC, Werder and Dortmund - all feel they are in with a chance of destroying Munich’s hopes of a national double – and to end the season with a title themselves.
The omens for each of the four semi-final teams are completely different. In the last weeks under coach Pep Guardiola, Bayern, who will be at home to Werder Bremen on 19 April (8.30 pm local time), will be looking to achieve the treble targeted by the Spaniard before he departs for Manchester City in summer. In the Bundesliga things look good as they are five points to the good of second-placed Dortmund, the quarterfinal tie against Benfica looks very doable and to have a cup semi-final at home against Werder is also very much to their taste. Despite their injury problems, there is an air of confidence in advance of the duel to decide who advances to the final. Last year’s semi-final ended in gigantic disappointment against Dortmund when they lost on home soil in a penalty shoot-out in which none of the four Bayern takers could find the back of the net. “It’ll be a tough step en route to the final. We’ll have to play well against them,” said Arjen Robben after the draw had been made. The Bavarians have definitely been warned as their women’s team has sensationally missed out on an expected final appearance after the unbeaten table-toppers lost 2-1 to SC Sand. The women’s cup final will be played on the same day as the men’s, but a few hours earlier in Cologne.
Bremen’s players wished for another opponent – or at least a home game. Though Claudio Pizarro is looking forward to the match at his old stomping ground and is, due to Bremen’s good away form, quietly confident, the Peruvian’s big aim is Berlin and not Munich. “Bayern are obviously favourites but our away form has been very good up to now. I want to go to Berlin, I want to get to the final,” said Pizarro, who may be forced to miss the semi due to an injury he suffered in a recent international match. Whilst Munich is only concentrating on wrapping up the league title, Bremen’s daily life in the Bundesliga is all about survival. Werder is in the thick of a relegation battle and they really need all their strength and concentration in their efforts to remain in the division. Their place in the semi-final will not only benefit them financially, they also have the chance in two matches to make amends for a league season where little has gone right – and improve confidence for the sharp end of the league season.
The omens at the two other semi-finalists Berlin and Dortmund, who face each other on 20 April (8.30 pm) are also quite different. After what has been a, on the whole, magnificent season, Hertha BSC are still dreaming of a final appearance in the Olympic Stadium where they play their home games. In the eyes of coach Pal Dardai, it is even more important than qualifying for the Champions League. Should Berlin achieve both then it would be the most successful season in the club’s recent history – and collective ecstasy break out in the capital city. A feeling seldom sparked by Hertha. However the crowd in the Olympic Stadium will be at fever pitch right away in the semi. For the first time since it was decided to play the final every year in Berlin, the Hertha’s players have the opportunity to stage a home game – and will do everything to earn themselves the chance to run out in front of a capacity crowd again in the final on 21 May.
Now set to face Dortmund, Berlin however have an opponent that not only feels very much at home in Berlin – in 2012 Borussia won the final against Bayern – but are in extremely good form going into the encounter with Hertha. In the knock-out phase of the Europa League, Dortmund has celebrated four impressive wins against the top teams Porto and Tottenham Hotspur. In the Bundesliga, BVB is on record-breaking course but, due to Bayern’s dominance, only their own previous best and the one for the runners-up. They were recently titled “Borussia Recordmund” by the tabloid the “Bild Zeitung” which then backed up the claim with some impressive facts on “the best runners-up of all time”: Dortmund has already clinched their Champions League place and would have sewn up the 2001 championship with its current points tally (67). Fifteen years ago Bayern won the title with 63 points. With 28 games played, neither a second-placed nor BVB have won so many points as the side coached by Thomas Tuchel. Undefeated in 2016, they have won 14 of their 16 competitive matches. The best team of the second half of the Bundesliga season does not only want to be praised for good football and lots of point, they also have set their sights on a double. Triumphs in the DFB Cup and the Europa League would be outstanding achievements for Thomas Tuchel in his first season at BVB.
The burning desire to win the DFB Cup unites all four teams remaining in the competition and will also increase the intensity of the duels even more. Fans can look forward to thrilling matches.