Bayern Munch booked their place in the DFB-Pokal semifinals on Wedneday following a 5-0 drubbing of Hamburg. The Bavarians followed Dortmund, Wolfsburg and surprise package Kaiserslautern in advancing to the penultimate stage of Germany's cup competition.
From the very beginning, HSV were pinned deep in their own territory, with nearly the entire first half played in their half. Although the hosts held firm initially, Mario Gotze was able to stroll past Zhi-Gin Lam and cross to the unmarked Mario Mandzukic for a tap in.
Dante nodded in a second four minutes later, effectively putting the result to rest as a pedestrian HSV side seemed to give up all hope. Arjen Robben struck after the break, and Mandzukic rounded off his hat-trick with two goals in as many minutes with around a quarter hour remaining.
The result was business as usual for a Bayern side that has already scored 16 goals in 2014, conceding just one. And much to the dismay of their faithful fans, it was typical for HSV, who have lost seven consecutive games in all competitions and remain scoreless in 2014 with 14 goals conceded.
However depressing Bayern vs. Hamburg may have been for the neutral fan looking for a competitive match, the other Pokal matches were each spectacles in their own right, close to the very end.
It took Dortmund 83 minutes to find a winner in Frankfurt on Tuesday, while 10-man Wolfsburg survived a late scare in a 3-2 victory over Hoffenheim. The Wolves twice took the lead before going 3-1 ahead, but Ricardo Rodriguez—who had scored twice from the penalty spot—was sent off late in the game. Roberto Firmino completed his brace to lend Hoffe a lifeline at the death, but the visitors managed to hold the score at 3-2 and advance.
At the BayArena, Kaiserslautern put up a heroic fight against Leverkusen, defending well enough to force extra time. With 114 scoreless minutes having passed, Ruben Jenssen stunned the hosts with what would be the only goal of the match.
Underdogs Lautern will be the only 2. Bundesliga representatives in the semifinals, which will be held in April. And the third-placed side in Germany's second division will take enormous confidence with them as they aim to be promoted to the Bundesliga.
Contrary to popular belief, competition is ripe in German football. Out of four Pokal quarterfinals, three were truly riveting, the fourth predictably a rout. Still, anything is possible in a one-off and the Pokal remains entirely up for grabs.
Whichever team lifts the trophy in May will have earned it.