Goal.com looks ahead to tonight's second clash between Stuttgart and Bayern, with a place in the last eight of the cup up for grabs.
Stuttgart's third coach of the season Bruno Labbadia presided over a 5-3 home loss to Bayern in his first game in charge four short days ago. It was the first-time he had tasted defeat in his opening game at a club but as the scoreline suggests, there were still some positives to take from the match, as well as the obvious downsides. Stuttgart pushed the self-destruct button in defence, seemingly taking a leaf from the Borussia Moenchengladbach school of defending. However, when many sides would have given up and folded against a star-studded Bayern team, they battled back and capitalised on the champions' defensive weaknesses to give the scoreline an air of respectability.
Labbadia may not have the most distinguished record in coaching in his career to date but he was brought in to the club due to his reputation for being a good motivator and making an instant impact in the dressing room. He will somehow have to tighten up that leaky defence but given the time frame, it's more likely he will attempt to accentuate the positives. With an increasingly vociferous Stuttgart fanbase protesting with vigour against the board, the players will need to focus solely on the matter at hand.
"Bayern's goals were presents from us. We created our own downfall. Until the first goal we were well organised and made it difficult for Bayern. We also showed excellent morale and we never gave up. On Wednesday we will go into the game with the same commitment we showed on Sunday. A cup tie against Bayern Munich is something special. We must treat it separately from the league game," Labbadia told the club's official website.
Die Schwaben reached this stage of the competition with a 3-1 victory in Chemnitz although they needed to go to extra-time to secure the victory. Benjamin Foerster stunned Jens Keller's men by taking the lead but the first of Martin Harnik's treble forced another 30 minutes of action. The Austrian completed his hat-trick with an extra-time double to continue Stuttgart's good season in both cup competitions.
Hoping For A Happy Christmas
Bayern may be well off the pace in the Bundesliga but they remain the favourites to retain the DFB-Pokal they won in such convincing manner against Werder Bremen last season. And it was last year's runners-up whom they brushed aside in the previous round. Despite falling behind to an early goal from ex-Bayern man Claudio Pizarro, der Rekordmeister battled back to book this tie with Stuttgart thanks to a double strike from Bastian Schweinsteiger.
The champions have been in pretty good form of late, culminating in that 5-3 win at the Mercedes-Benz Arena on Sunday afternoon and they will be looking for the perfect finish to 2010 before a winter-break, which could bring reinforcements with Everton left-back Leighton Baines heavily linked with the club. Furthermore, one or two could be on their way out, such as skipper Mark Van Bommel and the versatile Hamit Altintop.
Van Gaal is accustomed to coaching clubs who aim to fight on several fronts, from Ajax to Barcelona, even to AZ and now Bayern. As far as the 59-year old is concerned, the cup is no less important than the Bundesliga or the Champions League. However, like before the league encounter between these two sides, there remains a hint of the unknown given the fact that Bruno Labbadia has barely had time to get his feet under the table in Stuttgart.
"If we win, we will be satisfied going into the winter break. That will determined whether or not we have a happy Christmas. We have to win," Van Gaal told the club's website.
"We want to fight for all trophies right until the very end. If we win (against Stuttgart), I will be pleased but nothing more. I don't know how they will react to the situation, They could be even more unsure of themselves or they could have greater motivation. A cup game is always something different - a winner takes all situation."
Timo Gebhart is the latest addition to the injury list with the midfield being ruled out for several weeks with an ankle injury. He joins Stefan Celozzi and Johan Audel on the sidelines. There are question marks over the fitness of Georg Niedermeier and Ciprian Marica with Labbadia making a decision later over their ability to play. Philipp Degen looks set to return at right-back and be entrusted with the task of stopping Franck Ribery.
Probable Starting XI: Ulreich – Degen, Tasci, Depierre, Molinaro – Harnik, Traesch, Gentner, Boka – Pogrebnyak, Cacau
Toni Kroos has been ruled out until January with a foot injury. In addition to Robben and Kroos, Ivica Olic, and Danijel Pranjic will miss out. Olic looks set to miss the rest of the season with his knee problem. Hamit Altintop is a further absentee but Bastian Schweinsteiger should return from flu.
Probable Starting XI: Butt – Lahm, Tymoshchuk, Breno, Contento – Van Bommel, Ottl – Mueller, Schweinsteiger, Ribery – Gomez