DFB-Pokal Preview: Bayern, Dortmund and Leverkusen chase glory
By Football News
Holders Bayern Munich will continue their pursuit of a 17th DFB-Pokal crown when they travel to Hamburg in this week's quarter-finals.
Since goals from Arjen Robben and Thomas Muller secured a 2-0 third-round win at Augsburg in December, Bayern have won seven of eight matches in all competitions - collecting the FIFA World Club Cup in the process and with only a 3-2 UEFA Champions League loss to Manchester City blotting their copybook.
By contrast, Hamburg are currently in the throes of a relegation battle and could perhaps do without the distraction of such a daunting cup assignment.
Bert van Marwijk's men suffered a 3-1 loss at the Allianz Arena during their current slump, which brought five straight Bundesliga defeats on the back of their previous round win at home to Cologne.
The 1998 Bundesliga champions Kaiserslautern are the only team outside the top flight still in the competition and must overturn the odds at Bayern Leverkusen to take their run to the semi-final stage.
Kaiserslautern chairman and former Germany forward Stefan Kuntz told sport1.de: "It's a very tough draw for us and we would have preferred to play at home, but nobody is without a chance entirely in the cup."
Leverkusen remain Bayern's closest challengers in the top flight, but being as they sit 10 points adrift of the champions, the DFB-Pokal represents their best chance of silverware since lifting the same trophy in 1993.
Borussia Dortmund share similar ambitions and face a quarter-final trip to Eintracht Frankfurt, Jurgen Klopp's men having stumbled this time around in attempting to construct a sustained challenge to Bayern's dominance in the league.
They beat relegation-threatened Eintracht 2-1 at the Commerzbank-Arena in their Bundesliga meeting back in September thanks to a Henrikh Mkhitaryan brace.
Hoffenheim pulled off an excellent 3-1 triumph at Schalke to book a home quarter-final tie with Wolfsburg.
Dieter Hecking's team required a late Ivica Olic goal to overcome Ingolstadt of the second tier in round three, and Hoffenheim forward Kevin Volland is in bullish mood ahead of their visit to the Rhein-Neckar Arena.
"Wolfsburg are a top team, but they are not invincible," he told Sky Deutschland. "We're playing at home and we desperately want to use this advantage."