Winning the german DFB cup in 1974
Winning the german DFB cup in 1974

The German Cup

The 'DFB-Pokal' or DFB Cup is a German knockout cup competition held annually. The competition is run by and named after the German Football Association ('Deutscher Fußball-Bund' or 'DFB') and is considered to be the second-most important domestic club trophy in German football after the Bundesliga. It began in 1934/35, with 1. FC Nürnberg the first team to lift the trophy. Originally the final was held at a different venue each year, including in Cologne, Stuttgart, Gelsenkirchen and Hanover. The Waldstadion (now known as the Commerzbank-Arena) in Frankfurt hosted the showpiece five times, most recently in 1984. Since then, the final has moved permanently to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, where Eintracht Frankfurt beat Bayern Munich in 2018.

Eintracht Frankfurt won the "DFB-Pokal" five times.


Mode

64 teams participate in the knockout competition, which usually lasts from August until June. There are no first and second leg matches. Extra time will be played if the scores are level after 90 minutes with a penalty shootout following if needed.

The 36 teams of the Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga are automatically qualified for the tournament. The remaining slots are given to teams of the "3. Liga" (the third-highest football division in Germany), the cup winners of regional football associations ("Verbandspokalgewinner") and other clubs of regional associations.

The pairings of the DFB-Pokal's matches are drawn before each round. However, regarding the first two rounds, the drawing is not entirely random.

Before the first round drawing, the teams are split into two pots of 32 teams each. One pot contains all the teams from the Bundesliga and the 14 best teams of the 2. Bundesliga. The other pot contains the remaining teams. Then the pairings are drawn, making sure that only teams from different pots will compete against each other. The teams from the pot with the lower-ranked teams will play at home.

For the second round, the teams are again divided into two pots according to the same principles. This time the pots do not have to be of equal size though, depending on the results of the first round. Amateur teams get paired with professional teams until one pot is empty. The remaining teams are then drawn from the non-empty pot. Amateur teams will automatically play at home. If two professional teams or, which is less likely, two amateur teams are matched, the team first drawn will play at home.

For the remaining rounds other than the final the teams are drawn from one pot, with the team first drawn playing at home. However, amateur teams will play at home if they are matched with a professional team.

The DFB-Pokal winner qualifies for the UEFA Europa League unless the winner already is qualified for the UEFA Champions League via the Bundesliga competition.