PREVIEW | DFB Pokal – Round 1: Freiburg face the heat at packed out Fritz Walter Stadium, Borussia Dortmund seek to find their step at 1860 Munich & FC Köln will be wary of in-form Jahn Regensburg

Round 1 of this season’s DFB Pokal is just around the corner, so what does the weekend have in store? Read on to find out!

1 | 1. FC Kaiserslautern – SC Freiburg 

Four-time champions Kaiserslautern are finally back in the 2. Bundesliga after four-years languishing in the third tier. ‘FCK’ has always had some of the best fans in German football and they have already sold over 30,000 tickets for their first-round Pokal match against last year’s finalists Freiburg.

It’s not just ‘Lautern’ fans who are looking forward to the game. Many Freiburg supporters are expected to make the 135-mile trip from the Schwarzwald for the clash of the South-West clubs, in what is anticipated to be one of the highlights of the first round. 

Kaiserslautern has lost keeper Mateo Raab but gained Union Berlin’s Andreas Luthe in the position which is an impressive signing for the club. Further welcome reinforcement comes in at full-back with the return of the highly experienced defender who is fresh from the Europa League winning campaign with Eintracht Frankfurt, former Germany international Erik Durm.

However, Christian Streich has done well to keep the side together that qualified for the Europa League last season and with the notable exception of centre-back Nico Schlotterbeck and left-back Luca Itter the impressive side is largely unchanged.

Schlotterbeck has been replaced by a familiar face in German international Matthias Ginter and ‘Der SC’ have also beefed up the forward line spending €13m on promising winger Ritsu Dean from PSV Eindhoven and Daniel Kofi-Kyereh from St Pauli who shone with Ghana in the World Cup qualifying games.

Where the 2. Bundesliga side may have an advantage is that Kaiserslautern are already in the flow of competition. ‘Die Roten Teufel’ have looked good in their first two games of the 2. Bundesliga season, picking up three points from two tricky ties against top-rated opponents Hannover and away at Holstein Kiel.  

Despite the build-up and being behind in terms of preparation, Freiburg should have this tie under control.

2 | New coach Edin Terzić looks to find his formation as Borussia Dortmund travels to 1860 Munich 

Borussia Dortmund’s recent summer friendlies so far have left fans feeling underwhelmed.

The games against Villarreal and Valencia were the only serious tests for Terzić’s newly assembled star ensemble. The side does not look like they have found their balance, losing 2-0 against Villarreal and Valencia in the same week.

In particular, against Valencia, the side was only able to maintain pressure for the first half with the Spanish side winning 3-1. What puts the poor result against Valencia in particular into context was last season’s Bundesliga strugglers Stuttgart thrashing the Spanish team 5-2 only days later.  

Terzić has tested a vast number of players this summer from the U23, U19 and even U17 teams. One of the highlights is the new arrival from Ajax left-back Prince Aning (19). Aning has put in some outstanding performances not just for his commitment and energy but also for his ability to run the line and provide pitch perfect crosses into the box. Aning also opened the season with his beautifully timed goal at sixth-tier Lüner SV and converted a penalty in the 5-0 win away at third-tier SC Verl. 

Another player who has been putting in some good performances, and not a minute too early in the absence of Sebastien Haller is Youssoufa Moukoko. The Germany U21 international has been in the starting eleven in three of the friendly matches and scored twice this summer.  

On Friday, the ‘Schwarzgelben’ face their first endurance test of the season with an away visit to third-tier 1860 Munich. The atmosphere at the sold-out ‘Stadion an der Grünwalderstrasse’ will be emotional but the second round should be within BVB’s sight.

3 | Köln travel to in-form Jahn Regensburg 

At Regensburg on Saturday, Steffen Baumgart will face his first major challenge of the season with FC Köln, a first round away game at Regensburg. 

After a very impressive season in which Köln very much earned their place in the UEFA Conference League, the club’s extension of Baumgart’s contract ensures stability at the helm. The passion and work ethic the 50-year-old has brought to the club has made the side much more competitive and they are a tough side to break down even on a bad day.  

The ‘Effzeh’ go into the current campaign stronger. The club have done well to keep top scorer Anthony Modeste and the ever-reliable Jonas Hector and add a versatile centre-back who can also play in midfield in Luca Killian from Mainz 05.

In Regensburg, the club face a team who only secured 2. Bundesliga survival at the end of the season. Their second-tier campaign last season went everything than to plan, just scraping into safety by one point ahead of Dynamo Dresden. 

The ‘Jahnelf’ who also lost their main keeper Alex Meyer to Borussia Dortmund have brought in Dejan Stojanovic from Middlesbrough. A further reinforcement this time in attack comes in the form of Prince Owei-Owusu from Erzgebirge Aue.

Despite getting off to a very impressive start to the 2. Bundesliga season with an opening match 2-0 win over Darmstadt and most impressively a 3-0 win at promotion candidates Arminia Bielefeld, Regensburg is expected this season to be amongst the relegation candidates but Köln should be wary in spite of their 2-1 win against AC Milan last week.

Here is the full fixture list for round one of the Pokal:

Ben McFadyean

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