Cologne - It’s that time of the year again as Bundesliga champions FC Bayern München prepare to take on DFB Cup winners VfL Wolfsburg in the 15th edition of the Supercup on Saturday, 1 August.
To get you in the mood, bundesliga.com takes a detailed look at the Bundesliga calendar’s traditional curtain-raiser…
The first of many
In any given season, a German side can theoretically win three national (Supercup, Bundesliga and DFB Cup) and three international titles (European Super Cup, FIFA Club World Cup and either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League) - the Supercup being the first on the agenda. FC Bayern lifted five of the six crowns on offer two years ago, losing the 2013 Supercup to Borussia Dortmund in Pep Guardiola’s first competitive outing as head coach. Incidentally, no side has contested as many Supercups as Bayern (eight so far), while Wolfsburg are the 12th different participant. The Wolves celebrated their maiden Bundesliga title in 2008/09, but that season the Supercup was an unofficial event won by DFB Cup winners SV Werder Bremen.
The tournament itself began life under the auspices of the German FA (DFB) in 1987, champions FC Bayern beating DFB Cup winners Hamburger SV 2-1 in Frankfurt to lift the inaugural trophy. It ran in its original form for a further nine years, with Bremen and Dortmund racking up three wins apiece, Bayern victorious again in 1990 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern and VfB Stuttgart each adding the pot to their league title the following two years. After a 14-year hiatus the Supercup, now organised by the DFL, returned in 2010, Bayern beating league runners-up FC Schalke 04 2-0. Dortmund suffered successive defeats to Schalke and Bayern in 2011 and 2012 respectively, but have won the last two and are currently the competition's record titleholders (five to Bayern's four).
Hawk-Eye at the ready
Bayern may have made more Supercup appearances than any other side, but they’ve also suffered more defeats in the showpiece event, too (four). Dortmund and Kaiserslautern have both finished runners-up on two previous occasions. Curiously enough, while the last five Supercups have ended up in the hands of the DFB Cup holder/ Bundesliga runner-up, the Bundesliga winner leads the overall table by nine Supercup trophies to six. This season’s event is also the first to use goal-line technology, with Hawk-Eye set to be rolled out across the board in the German top flight in 2015/16.
Since 2011, when it was decided that the DFB Cup winners/ Bundesliga runners-up would host the event, the home side has always gone on to lift the trophy. Good news for Wolfsburg, who have a measly record against Bayern in the Bundesliga (W4, D5, L27). Can they continue the trend? Wherever you are in the world you'll be able to tune in and find out, with the Supercup broadcast live in almost 200 countries last summer.
Worth its weight in silver and gold
The Supercup trophy has a height of 53 centimetres and weighs little more than six kilograms. It comprises a silver ball held by two symbolic arms - a silver one that represents the Meisterschale and a gold one for the DFB Cup. It is insured for €40,000.
The Bundesliga’s record coach Otto Rehhagel (832 games) has also contested more Supercups than any of his fellow strategists past or present. He took Bremen to the final on five occasions, and Kaiserslautern once, winning three. Whoever takes to the dugout, goals are guaranteed: there have been 49 so far in 15 Supercups - that’s an average of 3.3 per game.
East meets West
1991 witnessed a Supercup with a difference, with two semi-finals reflecting the imminent formalisation of German reunification. 1. FC Kaiserslautern, champions of the Federal Republic, travelled to take on East German double winners FC Hansa Rostock and came away from the Ostseestadion with a 2-1 win. DFB Cup winners Bremen meanwhile got the better of Eisenhüttenstädter FC Stahl, beaten finalists in the soon-to-be-dissolved German Democratic Republic's last cup final. The two West German sides then went head-to-head in Hanover, with Kaiserslautern prevailing 3-1. It was the curtain-raiser to a season in which the East's top two sides, Rostock and Dynamo Dresden, were integrated into a temporarily expanded 20-club Bundesliga.
On Rufer's tail
Bremen's Wynton Rufer is the all-time Supercup top scorer on five goals, one in the aforementioned 1991 semi-final included. The New Zealand forward's record will be challenged this year by either Thomas Müller or Arjen Robben, the FC Bayern duo each having scored twice to date in the pre-season special. Müller can also join former Bremen trio Ulrich Borowka, Oliver Reck and Mirko Votava on a tournament-leading five Supercup appearances, as can FCB team-mates Philipp Lahm and Robert Lewandowski.
Three of the 15 finals have been decided by way of a penalty shoot-out. Bremen and Dortmund edged past Bayer 04 Leverkusen and Kaiserslautern respectively in 1992 and 1996, with both games still tied after 120 minutes. The modern-version of the Supercup has meanwhile dispensed with extra time, heading straight for the spot after the regulation 90. Schalke saw off neighbours Dortmund on penalties to win the trophy for the first and so far only time in 2011, goalkeeper Ralf Fährmann saving twice.
Green is the colour
As has been the case with every edition since 2010, the 15th instalment of the Supercup is a sell-out. Approximately 30,000 fans are expected to pass through the turnstiles at Wolfsburg’s Volkswagen Arena, which is set to be powered by up to 100 per cent green energy and use grey water from the midland canal for its sprinkler system.