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German Cup: Bayern hunt eighth straight semifinal

Wednesday's German Cup ties feature some of the competition's most storied names. Bayern face Schalke looking for their eighth consecutive semifinal berth, while Hamburg host Gladbach.

Bayern Munich v Schalke (20:45 CET)

Cup holders Bayern showed little of the stodginess that had marked many of their recent Bundesliga displays when they hammered Hamburg 8-0 on Saturday. But the Bavarians were held by Schalke four weeks ago, in a 1-1 draw that kickstarted a seven-game unbeaten run for the Royal Blues in February.

Ahead of Wednesday's late game, which has brought together the two teams with the most appearances in the German Cup, two of Bayern's key men pointed to Schalke's five-man defense as a potential obstacle for their team.

"That's how things are at the moment. It looks like it is easier for us against a back four," said captain Philipp Lahm. Attacker Thomas Müller, who looks to have rediscovered some form, agreed: "It is easier for the lines of running if we do not have to play against five every time," the forward said. "You can move into the gaps better without betraying too much to your opponents."

One of the key men in Schalke's wing-back system could miss out though. Head coach Markus Weinzierl admitted there is "big question mark" over Sead Kolasinac.

Weinizierl takes heart from Bayern draw

However, Weinzierl will have on-loan Bayern center back Holger Badstuber available and the former Augsburg boss has taken heart from the fixture at the Allianz Arena on February 4.

"It's important that we believe we can make it to the semifinals, we're completely motivated," he said in his pre-match press conference on Tuesday. "We're the underdogs, but we have belief. We showed two weeks ago that we can be a match for Bayern."

His opposite number Carlo Ancelotti said Franck Ribery will play on the left wing, with Douglas Costa rested, while David Alaba and Renato Sanches are likely to miss out with a knock and a cold respectively.

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Hamburg v Borussia Mönchengladbach

One team who certainly weren't a match for Ancelotti's men was Hamburg. But, according to head coach Markus Gisdol, the relegation-threatened northerners will be glad of an early chance to bounce back against a Gladbach side who have been in fine form since the winter break.

"For us in such a situation it's about getting our heads straight and analyzing things quickly," he said. "In the past we have always shown that we can shake off even big set-backs and get back on track quickly."

Gisdol was perhaps referring to Hamburg's impressive wins over RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, which came after dispiriting defeats to relegation rivals Wolfsburg and Ingolstadt at the start of this year.

DFB Pokal Hallescher FC vs. Hamburger SV

Markus Gisdol's men need to recover quickly from an 8-0 hiding

After failing to win a league game until December a glut of January signings, including Greek defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos who is likely to return after injury on Wednesday, have seen Hamburg give themselves a chance in the Bundesliga.

Gladbach look to Cups after shocking start

In the cup, both these sides have impressed.  So much so, that neither has conceded in the competition this season. While Hamburg may see the Cup as a distraction, for Gladbach, it and the Europa League have surely become a priority after a dismal start to the Bundesliga campaign left them too far off the pace in the league. Since replacing coach Andre Schubert with Dieter Hecking, form has picked up and any fears of getting sucked into a relegation battle have been banished.

After some mixed results early on, the former Wolfsburg boss has guided his men to 13 points from their 6 league games since the break and a rousing Lars Stindl-insipred comeback win over Fiorentina in the Europa League.

Hecking called Stindl, who was at the center of a handball controversy in Gladbach's in over Ingolstadt at the weekend, "a superb team leader" in the lead up to Wednesday's game and confirmed that Thorgan Hazard and Ibrahima Traore are likely to miss out with injuries. But he insisted he would not use fighting on three fronts as an excuse for under-performance.

"There may well be changes. It's important that we can react by bringing players off the bench as well though.

"Tiredness doesn't play a role for me. There's nothing better than having the chance to play a game every three days."

 

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