As this matchday sees the first round of the DFB Pokal, the German football enthusiasts here at CL Soccer thought we’d delve into the past and relive some 1st round shocks of years gone by.
Everyone loves an underdog, and it is a tag that has, in the past, been kind to FC St. Pauli. An alternative and unique football club, their home – Millerntor-Stadion – is located just around the corner from the city’s famous red-light district, the Reeperbahn, and it is somewhere that no Bundesliga club will be eagerly awaiting a trip too, should they be unfortunate enough to be drawn against the 2. Bundesliga side.
You see, FC St. Pauli have earned themselves somewhat of a reputation for being giantkillers.
In the 2005/06 season, St. Pauli had an ok league campaign, finishing 6th in the Regionalliga Nord, but it was nothing to shout about. In the cup, however the club stole all the headlines. In the second round they defeated eventual 2. Bundesliga champions VfL Bochum 4-0, and this was just the start. From there St. Pauli went on to beat Hertha Berlin 4-3 (after extra-time) and then stunned Werder Bremen 3-1 to reach the semi-final. The very same season, Hertha Berlin and Werder Bremen finished 6th and 2nd in the Bundesliga respectively.
FC St. Pauli eventually lost their semi-final 3-0 to German superclub FC Bayern München, but their run in the competition was an unforgettable one.
The following summer the draw for the first round of the DFB Pokal was made again, and saw St. Pauli face Bayern again. This time around, St. Pauli took the lead. Lukas Podolski equalised for the Bavarians, and the game wasn’t settled until a Patrick Borger own goal gave Bayern the lead halfway through extra-time. Bayern had played a star studded team (including current first-team players Philipp Lahm, Daniel van Buyten, and Bastian Schweinsteiger) and had only just sneaked through.
A year on and any Bundesliga club would have been excused for wanting to avoid a trip to Millerntor-Stadion. By now St. Pauli were a 2.Bundesliga club, and it was Bayer Leverkusen who had to make the trip to Hamburg. St. Pauli had gone 11 games unbeaten at the back end of the previous season to clinch promotion, while Leverkusen had earned European football after finishing 5th in Germany’s top flight.
Aware of the danger that St. Pauli faced, Michael Skibbe fielded a full strength side which contained the likes of René Adler, Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker, Gonzalo Castro, Pirmin Schwegler, Simon Rolfes, Tranquillo Barnetta, Stefan Kießling, and Theofanis Gekas. The average age of the Leverkusen starting XI was a healthy 24.6 years – and on paper the game was only going one way.
But it didn’t. In the end just short of 15,000 people were at the Millerntor saw yet another St. Pauli upset. The only game of the game was scored with just 2 minutes of normal time remaining, as St. Pauli hero Fabian Boll converted a ball nodded down by Marvin Braun. Once again St. Pauli had done the unthinkable, knocking out a mainstay of the Bundesliga. And who better to score than Fabian Boll? Also a policeman by trade, Boll joined St. Pauli in 2002 and is still there now.
The following round saw another upset in itself, as Werder Bremen II won 6-4 against St. Pauli, denying them another shot at a crazy cup run.
This weekend St. Pauli face Preußen Münster, in a game you would expect them to win. If they do it is unlikely many of the Bundesliga sides would rather avoid any other side from a lower division more than ‘Die Freibeuter der Liga’.
Hopefully this year, as it has in so many others, the DFB Pokal can provide us with a few shocks that we can look back on in years to come.