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‘A cracking draw’

Aachen overjoyed at plum tie against Bayern

At quarter to midnight, there was uproar at the famous Tivoli stadium in Aachen. A cry of jubilation rang out in the depths of the main stand, but coach Peter Hyballa was initially perplexed. “Then three people started tugging at my lightweight body all at once, which was when I cottoned on,” the Alemannia boss related. In the draw for the DFB Cup quarter-finals, his side had been paired with Bayern, the holders, the most successful team in the long history of the knockout competition, the biggest club in the country, and Hyballa’s former love.

“It's cracking draw. I used to be a Bayern fan and I slept under Bayern bedclothes,” the overjoyed 35-year-old grinned. General manager Erik Meijer was just as enthusiastic: “It's a dream draw. It's another chance to make history.” The official was referring to 2004 and 2006, when Bayern visited the Tivoli in the cup – and were knocked out on both occasions.

Meijer’s happy memories

“I can tell the current team a tale or two about that. The emotional temperature will be at boiling point again,” said Meijer, who scored Aachen’s winner in their 2-1 quarter-final triumph back in February 2004. “It's always enjoyable when you beat the mighty Bayern.” The sides met again in the 2006-7 Round of 16, when Alemannia ran up a stunning 4-2 success.

The victories against Bayern are part of a long giant-killing tradition at the club on the Dutch border. The second division side are through to the last eight for the third time in the last six seasons. They even made the final in 2004, although they lost 3-2 to Werder Bremen in Berlin. However, the Bayern camp intends the quarter-finals to be as far as the minnows go this time.

Nerlinger confident

Despite FCB’s recent record at the Tivoli, Christian Nerlinger is confident about the clash. “We went to Stuttgart having not won there for a long time, but we’ve done it twice now,” the director of sport declared in the aftermath of the goal-laden league and cup double-header with VfB. “I reckon we’ll prevail in Aachen.”

If nothing else, history certainly warns FCB not to underestimate the second division side, especially as coach Hyballa already knows a great deal about Louis van Gaal’s methods. Just a few months ago, he published a book examining Dutch youth football, and Van Gaal was a leading character in the narrative.

Meijer’s fitting gift

Prior to the last eight showdown, Hyballa may be even better informed about his FCB opposite number. Following Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out victory over Eintracht Frankfurt, Aachen’s second Bundesliga scalp in three cup ties this term, Hyballa found Meijer’s seasonal gift waiting for him in the dressing room. The present comprised a couple of bottles of wine, and a two-volume book, a certain “Biography and Vision,” by Mr Louis van Gaal.

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