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Test of character

‘Goliath’ Bayern wary of 'David' Fürth

In Middle Franconia, 230 kilometres to the north of Munich, stands a stone monument the FCB stars would do well not to ignore. “DFB Cup 14.8.1994”, the inscription reads, with “TSV Vestenbergsgreuth 1-0 Bayern” underneath. The local club, then in the fifth-tier Bavarian league, decided to record their greatest-ever victory for posterity. Now, almost 16 years later, the memorial at the TSV club house is a stark warning to the Bayern of today.

On Wednesday, the nation’s most successful club meet SpVgg Greuther Fürth, the club which arose in 1996 from the merger of the senior playing section at Vestenbergsgreuth with nearby SpVgg Fürth. In terms of the going-in position, not a great deal has changed since that fateful day in 1994: FCB are second in the Bundesliga and the odds-on favourites, with Fürth, who lie eighth in the second division, clearly the underdogs. A walkover for Bayern, then?

No complacency

“That’s what people think, but it’s just not that easy,” insisted Mark van Bommel, who naturally played no role whatsoever in the embarrassing first-round exit back in August 1994. But the psychological dimension to a classic David versus Goliath cup tie remains unchanged. “We can’t take anything for granted,” warned the Bayern captain. Ivica Olic was in full agreement: “They look like easy opponents on paper, but we’ll have to be totally focused.”