The big teams enter the German Cup this week for the second round, and for the likes of second division sides 1. FC Köln and 1. FC Kaiserslautern it gives them the opportunity to return to the limelight - at least temporarily.
When Köln and Kaiserslautern were both relegated at the end of last season the German top flight lost two of its most traditional clubs. It was a painful divorce, especially for Kaiserslautern who came within four minutes of avoiding the drop before VfL Wolfsburg youngster Marcel Ziemer denied them the win they needed with a cruel goal. Tamas Hajnal left it similarly late at the weekend, but his goal against TSV 1860 München was enough to seal a 1-0 victory which enabled Kaiserslautern to rise to third in the 2. Bundesliga.
They are again in action at the Fußball Arena München on Wednesday, but this time the stadium will be illuminated red as they face FC Bayern München. "After the 1-0 win against 1860 we should now follow up at the same venue against Bayern," said coach Wolfgang Wolf. "We want to annoy them." Any sort of result is likely to annoy Bayern counterpart Felix Magath, whose team have lost three of their last five games in domestic competition and go into the match without the injured Owen Hargreaves and Mehmet Scholl, while Lucio is suspended.
That match, and Köln's meeting with FC Schalke 04 this evening, will both be televised and for Köln coach Michael Meier, the onus is on his side to give a good account of themselves. "We mustn't make fools of ourselves in front of millions," he said. Schalke will provide difficult opposition after a 2-1 weekend win at home to Hannover 96 saw them climb to second. With Köln's star striker Patrick Helmes sidelined with a broken foot many are predicting an easy win for the side from Gelsenkirchen but Hamit Altıntop is urging caution. "This is no easy task," the Turkish international said. "We might be favourites, but we can't be complacent. Remember the 6-0 defeat by Eintracht Frankfurt last year?"
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