Eight second division teams are in the round of 16 of the DFB Cup, more than in 31 years. The cup is their big stage – and for some clubs it is also a distraction from the dreariness of the league.
Dimitrios Grammozis was sitting there and had to tell something about himself, which is usual when someone is introduced as the new coach of a professional club. So Grammozis remembered that he had been to Kaiserslautern before, as a player and not as a head coach. Grammozis said: “I remember that I was always the best player on the pitch.”
In this respect, all those who support the FCK but are too young to remember the footballer Grammozis know one thing about their new coach: he has a sense of humor.
Because when Grammozis was under contract with 1. FC Kaiserslautern, the club was a first division team and it also played in the European Cup. His teammates were Miroslav Klose, Mario Basler, Youri Djorkaeff and Lincoln; they scored the goals, set them up, and performed magic with the ball.
Grammozis rarely scored goals, he hardly appeared as an assist provider, and we don’t even remember dream passes from him. He was a worker in the midfield. It was his best time; he didn’t play more games for any other club. But the stars were different.
Kaiserslautern versus Nuremberg – duel between two clubs in crisis
On Sunday (December 3rd, 2023) Kaiserslautern signed Grammozis, 45, as Dirk Schuster’s successor. On Tuesday (December 5th, 2023, from 5:40 p.m. in the live stream on ARD, in the live ticker and in the audio live stream) the club will play in the round of 16 of the DFB. Cup against 1. FC Nürnberg. There is little time for a new beginning.
“From now on a new era begins”said Grammozis before his debut as FCK coach and also spoke about anticipation and his new job, which gives him a “A matter of the heart” be. And he said: “Stabilization is an important topic and that is the main focus. We have to work hard, our situation is not the best.”
And who would argue with him? Kaiserslautern has lost the last four games in the 2nd Bundesliga, which is why the coach is no longer called Schuster, but Grammozis. The club is in a crisis – and that also connects it with the opponent from Nuremberg, who did not replace their coach Christian Fiel, but have lost three of the last four games.
Round of 16 in the DFB Cup: eight second division teams, but only six first division teams
Kaiserslautern against Nuremberg, that is the duel between two second division teams that have already seen better times. But it is also a game that says a lot about the DFB Cup in the 2023/24 season. There are eight second division teams in the round of 16, in addition to FCK and the “Club” from Nuremberg, they are Düsseldorf, Magdeburg, St. Pauli, Paderborn, Hertha and HSV. They make up half of the teams. The last time so many second division teams reached the round of 16 was in the 1992/93 season.
The current season is the 50th in the history of the 2nd league, and you can’t shake the feeling that it’s right this time. That this league has never been better than it is today. The crisis clubs Kaiserslautern and Nuremberg still play in front of a lot of fans, HSV plays risky but respectable football, the same applies to Magdeburg. St. Pauli has both, good footballers and a good atmosphere. At least Schalke is in the mood.
One could say: The atmosphere in the second league should not be afraid of comparison with that in league one, and sometimes that also applies to the football performances. You would also find evidence of this in the DFB Cup. For example in the second round a few weeks ago, when the second division teams Kaiserslautern, Paderborn and Hertha played against the first division teams Cologne, Freiburg and Mainz. During the course of these games, at some point the club lower in class was ahead by three goals and progressed in the end.
Bonuses in the DFB Cup – there are 1.7 million euros for the quarter-finals
Also in the round of 16 are the fourth division team FC Homburg and the third division team 1. FC Saarbrücken, Bayern will remember. Saarland is currently quite popular in German football. And his clubs could also do something good for themselves financially with another win, with another cup surprise. “If we win against Frankfurt, that would be a third of our planned budget for this season”said Saarbrücken’s press spokesman Peter Müller of the German Press Agency.
He meant the bonus for progressing, after the round of 16 that would be almost 1.7 million euros. There is also the spectator revenue: 40 percent of this goes to the home and visiting teams, and 20 percent goes to the DFB. This is not only worthwhile for Saarbrücken and Homburg, they would also like to have the money in Magdeburg, Nuremberg or Kaiserslautern. And in Düsseldorf.
They also dream of being in Düsseldorf Additional income
“I hope that we can make progress and that the financial scope will expand somewhat.”said Fortuna Düsseldorf’s sports director Christian Weber before the game at 1. FC Magdeburg (December 5th, 2023). “It’s not always planned before the season that you’ll get to the fourth round. Accordingly, that would be a bit of additional income.”
1st main round
2nd main round
Round of 16
Only six first division teams in the round of 16
There are still six places left for first division teams, just six. Leipzig is out, and so are Bayern. Cologne, Heidenheim, Union Berlin, Hoffenheim, Mainz, Augsburg, Darmstadt, Freiburg, Bremen and Bochum are no longer there either. They could also use the bonuses for reaching the quarter-finals, but they will come away empty-handed. Those are the times.
That won’t bother coach Grammozis, he just has enough to do with his new employer. Recently, 1. FC Kaiserslautern had problems everywhere, on defense, which scored eleven goals in four games, and on offense, which was only successful twice. But now it’s the cup, and that’s a thing with the rules. So Grammozis said: “I’m extremely excited.”