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DFB Pokal: Dortmund’s Sixth Division Opponents Rielasingen-Arlen

The structure of the German Cup often matches small clubs up against Germany's best and Dortmund's vs Rielasingen-Arlen is a prime example.


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The phrase “the magic of the cup” is often used in England to describe a lower league team upsetting their Premier League opponent.

Last season, Conference sides Sutton United and Lincoln City made historic runs deep into the competition only to both lose out to eventual champions Arsenal.

The media and fans alike all love the romantic aspect of a team of plumbers and construction workers taking on the world’s best.

Yet, after the first round draw of the DFB Pokal in Germany, we will see Borussia Dortmund travel to amateur side 1. FC Rielasingen-Arlen. 

How the DFP Pokal works

The way the DFB Pokal is structured is very different to the structure of the FA Cup. There are no qualifying rounds, rather 64 teams entering in the first round.

All teams from the first two divisions are entered into the first round along with the top four finishers in the previous seasons third division. The remaining 24 spots are given to the 21 winners of the regional cups around Germany and the top three runners up.

The first round draw is also seeded so that teams from the first and second divisions play away at a so called “amateur” sides.

As a result, it is very common to see the likes of Bayern Munich, Dortmund and Leverkusen travel to small towns to play semi-pro teams in the lower leagues. 

The gulf in quality

Dortmund’s first round opponents this season however, are very much an amateur team. Rielasingen-Arlen play in the South Baden regional league, effectively the sixth division of German football.

Rielasingen-Arlen qualified for the DFB Pokal after beating VfR Hausen 6-1 in the final of the South Baden Cup. All of Rielasingen’s players either work full time jobs or are students and thus are only able to train three times a week during the season.

To put it into perspective of just how small Rielasingen-Arlen are compared to their opponents, the population of the entire Rielasingen-Worblingen municipality is about 11,000, about an eighth the size of Dortmund’s average league attendance in their home Westfalenstadion.

Rielasingen’s home stadium at absolute capacity allows for 1,500 spectators.

 The biggest goal in history

Due to the size of the opponent and the high demand for tickets, the match will actually be played at the Schwarzwaldstadion, the home of SC Freiburg.

Speaking to T-Online, Rielasingen-Arlen Sporting Director, Oliver Hennemann, stated that the team’s goal is to keep the match at 0-0 as long as possible and try to create an opportunity to score the most famous goal in club history. He says they will not play as chickens and warn Dortmund not to go easy on them.

The match will kick off this Saturday at 15:30 local time in Freiburg. Dortmund should win the match easily, but for Rielasingen, this is the opportunity of a lifetime to match up against some of the best players in the world. 

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Jeremy Van den Berg

I am a graduate from the University of Puget Sound with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations. I have been a fan of the beautiful game since I was a child and have attended matches throughout the globe. My favorite league to follow is the Bundesliga, but I also follow the Premier League and MLS closely. Unlike most fans I enjoy the international breaks, particularly when important World Cup/Euro qualifiers are on. I also played golf for four years for my university and will occasionally comment on happenings in the golfing world.

DFB Pokal: Dortmund’s Sixth Division Opponents Rielasingen-Arlen

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