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DFB Pokal

DFB Pokal

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ESPN » Seasons 2021-2024
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About DFB Pokal

The German Cup, also known as the DFB-Pokal, is the nation’s premier knockout cup tournament and is the second most important national football competition in Germany after the Bundesliga.

The first edition of the tournament was held in 1935, but the competition was suspended from 1944 to 1953 due to World War II and the aftermath of the conflict. It was initially called the Tschammer-Pokal, with 1. FC Nürnberg winning the inaugural title. In 1937, Schalke 04 made history by becoming the first team to win the double, triumphing in both this competition and the German top-flight.

The DFB Pokal was later re-started under its current format, which includes 64 teams: 36 teams from the Bundesliga and the Bundesliga II, the four best teams of the German third division, and 24 clubs from regional associations. All rounds are decided in a one-game knockout tie. Each fixture is decided by a penalty shootout in the event of a draw after 90 minutes, with the only exception being the final, where extra time is played to determine the winner before resorting to spot-kicks.

The winner of the DFB Pokal earns an entry to the UEFA Europa League, but if both finalists have earned their spot in that competition or the UEFA Champions League, that ticket gets awarded to the best Bundesliga side that failed to qualify for European competitions. Additionally, the cup champion qualifies for the DFL Supercup where they face the Bundesliga title-holder. If one team wins the league and cup double, then their opponent becomes the German top-flight runner-up.

This competition is one of the most respected and most popular domestic cup competitions in the world. While there have been giant killings -- a phenomenon where a small club upsets a heavyweight -- in this tournament’s history, the DFB Pokal has been dominated by Germany’s powerhouses such as Bayern Munich, Werder Bremen, Schalke 04, and Dortmund. The European berth at stake has also helped with the viewership, with fans of German football tuning in via TV broadcasts, live streaming options, and on-demand services in respectable numbers to see who gets crowned the champion.

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