Third-tier Saarbrucken dreaming of another German Cup sensation-Xinhua

Third-tier Saarbrucken dreaming of another German Cup sensation

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-04-01 19:38:45

By Oliver Trust

BERLIN, April 1 (Xinhua) -- Joyful anticipation is visible in the entire city. Houses are decorated with the flag of 1. FC Saarbrucken.

There seems only one topic that most of the city's 180,000 inhabitants talk about: the fairytale-like journey in the 2023/24 German Cup ahead of the semifinal this Tuesday evening against local rival and second-tier 1. FC Kaiserslautern.

The third-tier side is a shining example of the competition's unique charisma, with professional clubs and amateur sides crossing swords.

In the past 89 years, the DFB-Pokal has continuously delivered enchanting chapters of football underdogs turning things upside down against established sides, with Saarbrucken's run being the latest in a series of shocks.

The club reached the last four after beating several second-tier sides before knocking out Bundesliga outfits such as Eintracht Frankfurt, Borussia Monchengladbach, and even record German champions Bayern Munich.

Aside from the excitement that recent wins delivered, Saarbrucken also stands to receive additional revenue of nearly seven million euros. Reaching the final in Berlin would increase that figure to close to 10 million. Bundesliga leaders Bayer Leverkusen faces second-tier Fortuna Dusseldorf in the other semifinal.

After a four-year stint in the Bundesliga that ended in 1993, and a subsequent descent down to the fourth tier, Saarbrucken has this season developed into a threat for bigger teams.

Over a full league season, amateur teams would be lost against professional sides, but any team can beat any other in a knockout competition such as the German Cup, making it a once-in-a-lifetime chance for outsiders to make big dreams come true.

It is the story of unknown amateur footballers meeting the big stars they had previously only known on television.

The Cup's particular drawing system sees clubs from the top two divisions drawn against opponents from lower leagues in the opening rounds.

In the first two rounds, two drawing pots are used, one with professional teams and the other containing amateur sides.

Next to 36 clubs of the first and second divisions, plus the first of four third leagues, 24 amateur teams complete the starting field. The amateur sides qualify after having won a regional cup event in advance.

Amateur teams are rewarded by always playing at home until the competition final, which takes place in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It is common sense in Germany to say that the Cup has its own unwritten laws indicating the gaps between favorites, counting on budgets of many million euros, and small challengers might disappear.

On the other hand, the Cup is said to be the easiest way to qualify for continental competitions, as the Cup winner gain entry to the following season's UEFA Europa League.