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DFB Pokal Round 1 - State capitalists and the fall of the Hannover

The First Round of the German Cup (DFB Pokal) presents a fantastic opportunity for clubs to ease their way into the new season. Played a week before the start of the Bundesliga campaign, it gives the teams a chance to prepare themselves for the domestic onslaught. Furthermore, as the 1. Bundesliga teams always play away, it provides the smaller 2. Bundesliga, 3-Liga, Regionalliga and the Oberliga clubs a modest cash bonanza as they welcome the big shots to their humble abodes.

Inevitably, however, there are bound to be upsets and for the second year in a row Hannover 96 were knocked out in the First Round, as was a newly-promoted 1. Bundesliga club.

Hannover just about managed to survive in the top division last season and coach Mirko Slomka knew he had a job on his hands to try and steer the club to a comfortable mid-table position this season. Their campaign couldn't have got off to a worse start as he watched his team fail to score against Regionalliga (fourth tier in in the German football structure) club Elversberg and were eventually knocked out on penalties to the Saarland club.

The other 1.Bundesliga club not to feel the inside of a perspex bowl are the Heroes Of The Socialist Revolution, FC St Pauli. The Rieperbahn club also fell victim to Regionalliga opposition in the shape of the Saxony based Chemnitzer. Did you know that Chemnitz used to be known as Karl-Marx-Stadt before Unification, fact fans?

The only goal in the game was scored by one Andreas Richter, a 32-year-old defender. The goal was screened live as were the scenes of jubilation after the game as the players celebrated with the sizable crowd at Fischerweise.

St Pauli's numerous fans throughout the world will be hoping that they can somehow use this early season setback as a spur for what promises to be a difficult season back in the first division.

The other team, newly promoted to the top flight also found the going tough in the Cup. Kaiserslautern played Osnabruk who, themselves, are newly promoted to 2.Bundesliga. The 2003 Cup winners needed extra time and two goals from their loan signing from Napoli Erwin Hoffer to overcome their stubborn hosts, 3-2.

Elsewhere, it was pretty much 'business as usual' for the top teams with Hamburg and Hoffenheim registering pretty comprehensive wins over Torgelower SV Greif and Hansa Rostock respectively. Rostock were a Bundesliga club for much of the last decade and have fallen down the the Third Division.

Bayern Munch cruised passed Oberliga club Germania Windeck 4-0. Klose, Ribery, Toni Kroos and Gomez were on the scoresheet. VfR Ahlen of the 3-Liga proved a slightly sterner test for Schalke but the Gelsenkirchen club squeezed through in the end, 2-1, with a brace from Jefferson Farfan.

Werder Bremen also won quite comfortably against Rot Weiss Ahlen of the 3-Liga. Transfer target to the stars, Mesut Özil was in the starting line up.

Another transfer target is Edin Dzeko of Wolfsburg. He took his desire to move on a little too far against Preußen Münster by scoring an own goal. Don't worry though, brolly fans. New coach Steve McClaren's blushes were spared by goals from new signing Cicero and Dzeko's, soon to be erstwhile strike partner Grafite. 2-1 was the final score and McClaren's Berlin dream is still alive.

Finally, spare a thought for Oberliga club FK Piramens who were thrashed 11 (eleven) -1 by Bayer Leverkusen. Werkself fans will be heartened to learn that Patrick Helmes looks in good shape after a full pre-season following a ligament injury he suffered in the season before last. The German international scored a hattrick. New signing Sidney Sam bagged a brace on his competitive debut. Sebastian Reich scored the consolation for the home side at 7-1 which unfortunately only seemed to make the situation worse.

The second round draw is on August 21 with the ties to be played under floodlights at the end of October. The Bundesbag will keep you posted.

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