While there is no league action this weekend, Bundesliga sides are still facing challenges in the first round of the DFB Cup which traditionally throws Davids and Goliaths together.
Everyone wants to get their hands on the DFB Cup
While not such a giant force in their own league, Hanover 96 are positively enormous compared to Cologne amateurs who play in the regional third division. The miss-matched tie on Friday evening offered few surprises with the Bundesliga outfit putting four past the youth team without reply.
Vahid Hashemian, the Iranian international signed by Hanover from Bayern Munich, opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Hanover finished the game at a stroll after Cologne's Tobias Nickenig was sent off midway through the first half and completed the rout with goals from Thomas Brdaric, Chavdar Yankov and Jiri Stajner.
The other top league side in action on Friday was recently promoted Eintracht Frankfurt who won in less comfortable circumstances against Rot-Weiss Oberhausen, holding on to a 2-1 victory for their first win of the season.
New signings Benjamin Huggel and Ioannis Amanatidis put Frankfurt 2-0 up before Dalibor Gataric's reply 13 minutes from time set up a nervous finale.
Cottbus keeper the saviour and hero
The pick of the other six matches was the cliff-hanger between second division Energie Cottbus and amateurs Rot-Weiss Essen which finished in favor of the professionals from the east after a dramatic penalty shoot-out which Cottbus won 5-4.
Bosnian Faruk Hujdurovic, left, Brazilian Vragel da Silva, center, and Bosnian keeper Tomislav Piplica, right, of Cottbus.
The hero of the night was Energie's Bosnian goalkeeper Tomislav Piplica (photo, right) who saved from Lennart Lynge Larsen at 4-4 in the shootout before scoring the winner himself.
High-flying Hamburg SV will be well aware of the significance of their cup tie against Stuttgarter Kickers, one of 13 games being played on Saturday. It is one year since they were dumped out of the competition last season by corrupt referee Robert Hoyzer.
Memory of fixed match won't hamper Hamburg
Hamburg lost 4-2 away to SC Paderborn, after conceding two penalties and having Belgian striker Emile Mpenza sent off in a match that was fixed by Hoyzer.
But even though a European place is at stake for Hamburg when they defend a 1-0 lead at Valencia in the Intertoto Cup on Tuesday, the memory of that fateful game last year will not stop coach Thomas Doll putting out a strong side.
“We’ll be going in at full strength,” Doll said. “I was an amateur coach myself for a while and this sort of match provides these clubs with their match of the season.” Hamburg will see the draw for the first round as an extremely good omen. Hamburg beat Stuttgarter Kickers 3-1 in the final of the Cup in 1987.
Hamburg's opponents in the now notorious match, Paderborn, are also back in action on Saturday against VfL Wolfsburg and will be eager to prove they can provide another upset, this time without any external assistance. Paderborn enter the game against the Wolves on the back of a 5-0 league win in the second division and confidence is high.
Top teams facing minnows know the pitfalls
Cologne's Lukas Podolski, center, challenges for the ball with Mainz's Nikolce Noveski from Macedonia, right, and Fabian Gerber during the German first division soccer match between FC Cologne and Mainz 05 at the Rheinenergie stadium in Cologne on the opening day of the season.
FC Cologne could face a sticky time against Kickers Offenbach in their cup match on Saturday. Lukas Podolski and Co. have won both their games in the league so far and are riding a tide of fanatical support and optimism which should see them negotiate the potentially tricky Offenbach.
The cup holders Bayern Munich begin their defense of the trophy against amateurs MSV 1919 Neuruppin in one of ten games being played on Sunday. Munich, who beat Schalke 04 in last season’s final to complete a league and cup double, have an easy start to their campaign and after hitting Bayer Leverkusen for five last weekend, Neuruppin will be well advised to play ten defenders in front of their goalkeeper.
Borussia Dortmund complete the first-round action at Eintracht Braunschweig on Monday in a match that has embarrassing slip-up written all over it. Dortmund have just a point from their opening two league games and are looking vulnerable.