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Giant-killers 1.FC Saarbrücken 21/20 to reach DFB Pokal final

German football has delivered an brilliantly unpredictable campaign and the miraculous run of 3.Bundesliga side 1.FC Saarbrücken to the DFB Pokal semi-finals is one of the stories of the season.

Rüdiger Ziehl's history-makers will face fierce local rivals Kaiserslautern for a chance to become the first third-tier team to reach the final of the competition since Union Berlin in 2001.

It is the first time in DFB Pokal history that only one Bundesliga side has progressed to the final four, with the other semi-final consisting of second tier outfit Fortuna Dusseldorf, whose progression to this stage of the competition is rewarded with a tie against Xabi Alonso's unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen.

Saarbrücken's path to this stage of the DFB Pokal has been extraordinary.

Victory over Karlsruher SC was one of the shocks of the first round but Die Molschder were only getting started. The whole world took notice when they come from behind to stun Bayern Munich and the 3.Bundesliga outfit have produced upsets against Eintracht Frankfurt and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Saarbrücken are 21/20 to secure their passage to Berlin and 2/1 to win the match in 90 minutes, while Kaiserslautern are 13/10 favourites.

Saarbrucken v Kaiserslautern

First Round - 2-1 v Karlsruher SC

Saarbrücken's DFB Pokal joining began all the way back in August with the visit of second division outfit Karlsruher SC, who are currently vying for promotion to the top flight under Christian Eichner.

An enjoyable feature of their run to the final four has been the catalogue of late winners and their first round encounter was no different.

Taking the lead early in the second half through Tim Civeja, Saarbrücken were pegged back by the 10/11 favourites, who restored parity via former German international Lars Stindl.

But it was Saarbrücken who ultimately prevailed when Kai Brunker scored in stoppage time, setting up a tie with the European powerhouse that is Bayern Munich.

Second Round - 2-1 v Bayern Munich

For what the Ludwigsparkstadion lacks in size - a capacity crowd is 16,000 - it atones for in hostility and with Bayern Munich in town, the stadium was at fever pitch.

Saarbrücken set off at 33/1 to win the match and that price increased dramatically when Thomas Muller gave the Bavarian giants the lead after 16 minutes.

But Ziehl's team were not prepared to roll over and embrace the occasion. Undeterred in the face of world-class talent, Saarbrücken exposed Bayern's mental frailties.

There were scenes of utter delirium when Patrick Sontheimer tapped in from close range during first half stoppage time and Saarbrücken grew in confidence.

Thomas Tuchel refrained from introducing Harry Kane to the contest but called on Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Kingsley Coman in a bid to wrestle the tie back in their favour. Yet the hosts were impressively resilient; whatever Bayern conjured, Saarbrücken had an answer.

With seconds left on the clock, up stepped Marcel Gaus to smash the ball beyond Manuel Neuer and complete one of the most incredible comeback wins in German football history.

Round of 16 - 2-0 v Eintracht Frankfurt

Saarbrücken's reward for their heroics was a tie with another high-flying Bundesliga team in Eintracht Frankfurt.

The Eagles were runners-up in last year's competition and boast a strong record in the DFB Pokal, with their last success coming in 2017/18.

Surely Saarbrücken couldn't muster another giant-killing? Heading into the contest as 9/2 outsiders, they announced themselves as certified giant-slayers.

They put their top-flight opposition under pressure from the off and had a goal contentiously ruled out when Amine Naïfi was judged to have pushed a defender in the build-up.

Saarbrücken didn't let up and their persistence was rewarded in the second half when Brunker, the hero of their First Round triumph over Karlsruher, breached the Frankfurt defence and beat Kevin Trapp.

Often you would see teams subsequently sit back but the hosts had energy in abundance and their concerted pressure paid dividends. Frankfurt repeatedly fluffed their lines and when the ball ricocheted in the penalty area, Luca Kerber stepped up in the right place at the right time to convert, booking Saarbrücken's passage to the last eight.

Quarter-finals - 2-1 v Borussia Monchengladbach

They had conquered Bayern Munich, overcome Eintracht Frankfurt and next came the visit of Borussia Monchengladbach.

The fixture was played a month later than originally scheduled due to a waterlogged pitch and despite laying a new surface in the intervening five weeks, heavy rain made conditions quite difficult; not that it could dampen Saarbrücken's spirit.

With the vociferous home support behind them, the third-tier side started on the front foot but Monchengladbach offered a timely reminder of their quality, with Robin Hack converting their first opportunity in the match.

The visitors' joy was short-lived, however, when Naifi produced a sublime strike to restore parity just three minutes later.

Though Monchengladbach enjoyed the bulk of possession, Saarbrücken defended doggedly and just as extra-time appeared inevitable, the third-tier side had another dose of late magic up their sleeve.

Defender Fabio Di Michele Sanchez set off on an enterprising run down the left and crossed for Brünker, who struck the winner inside the left post in the third minute of stoppage time.

DFB Pokal

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