DFB Pokal Quarterfinals Preview: Schalke 04 Host Nürnberg, Bayern Munich Visit Alemannia Aachen

HANOVER GERMANY - JANUARY 22: Emanuel Pogatetz (L) and Mohamed Abdellaoue (C) of Hannover and Jefferson Farfan of Schalke compete for the ball during the Bundesliga match between Hannover 96 and FC Schalke 04 at AWD Arena on January 22 2011 in Hanover Germany. (Photo by Joern Pollex/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Schalke 04 vs. Nürnberg

Tuesday, 2:30 PM, TV: ESPN3.com

Felix Magath's Schalke picked up a 1-0 victory in a tight game with Hannover 96 on Saturday as Raúl scored his tenth league goal of the season, while Nürnberg came from a goal down to draw with Freiburg.  Schalke have a good home record recently, although they did lose out in their last Pokal game at the Veltins Arena, the semi-final last year against Bayern Munich that was decided by a brilliant Arjen Robben goal late in extra time.  However, this is a different Bavarian side coming to visit a very different Schalke team on Tuesday; while Nürnberg look a bit more potent than they did in the closing stages of 2010, Schalke have improved at the back as the season has gone on.  The Wesphalians' biggest challenge in the second half of the season will be finding some consistent scoring from the midfield and defenders -- over sixty percent of Schalke's goals have come from Raúl and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

Energie Cottbus vs. Hoffenheim

Wednesday, 1 PM

David Alaba snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat on Sunday for Hoffenheim at home against St. Pauli, and they should expect a similarly difficult test away to Energie Cottbus, who have already knocked out two 1.Bundesliga opponents, Freiburg and Wolfsburg.  Cottbus are the only side from what was East Germany involved in either of the two biggest competitions in German football (the Pokal and the 1.Bundesliga), and were the last team from the former GDR to play in the top flight before being relegated in 2009.  While Hoffenheim are on the verge of sending their Senegalese striker Demba Ba on loan to West Ham United, Cottbus have hung on to the services of former German youth international Nils Petersen, who has scored five goals in his last four games, including a brace away to Wolfsburg, and fifteen in twenty-one for the season.  This should be a very open game -- Energie Cottbus are the top scorers in the 2.Bundesliga, and Hoffenheim will expect that the pace and power of their forward line will mean that a high-tempo game will go their way.

Duisburg vs. Kaiserslautern

Wednesday, 1 PM

Kaiserslautern visit the Schauinsland-Reisen-Arena off the back of a comprehensive beating at the hands of Bayern Munich, and though Duisburg came from behind to claim a late equalizer in Ingolstadt, the Zebras (yes, really) have been quite inconsistent since a strong start to the 2.Bundesliga season.  'Lautern had the better of Duisburg in their promotion campaign last season, claiming a thumping 4-1 victory at the Fritz Walter Stadion and a 1-1 draw in Duisburg, but die Roten Teufel will need to rebound psychologically from defeat at the weekend to gain passage through to the semifinals.

Alemannia Aachen vs. Bayern Munich

Wednesday, 2:30 PM, TV: ESPN3.com

Bayern Munich are just two games away from a return to the Olympiastadion in Berlin for another DFB Pokal Final appearance, but first they have to beat Alemannia Aachen, who knocked the Bavarians out in 2006.  Mario Gómez is on top form for Bayern, with twenty-three goals in his last twenty-six games, and Arjen Robben scored his first goal in months on his return to the starting lineup against Kaiserslautern, but there is unrest in the Bavarian camp as both Uli Hoeneß and Christian Nerlinger have sniped at Louis van Gaal in the media over the last few days.  On the other hand, Aachen have a poor defensive record and conceded twice to relegation-threatened Karlsruhe at home this past weekend, in a match the visitors could have won.  Bayern should be clear favourites, but have been shocked by lower-division opposition in the Pokal in the recent past and have been caught out in other eminently winnable away games this season.

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