The 2015–16 DFB-Pokal was the 73rd season of the annual German football cup competition. Sixty-four teams participated in the competition, including all teams from the previous year's Bundesliga and the 2. Bundesliga. It began on 7 August 2015 with the first of six rounds and ended on 21 May 2016 with the final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, a nominally neutral venue, which has hosted the final since 1985. The DFB-Pokal is considered the second-most important club title in German football after the Bundesliga championship. The DFB-Pokal is run by the German Football Association (DFB).
The defending champions were Bundesliga side VfL Wolfsburg, after they beat Borussia Dortmund 3–1 in the previous final on 30 May 2015. They were knocked out of the competition in the second round by record title-holders Bayern Munich, losing 1–3.
The winner of the DFB-Pokal earns automatic qualification to the 2016–17 UEFA Europa League group stages. However, as Bayern Munich already qualified for the UEFA Champions League via their league position, Mainz 05, the sixth placed team in the 2015–16 Bundesliga took this Europa League place, and Mainz's Europa League third qualifying round spot went to Hertha BSC. As Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, completing a double, Borussia Dortmund, the runners-up of the Bundesliga will host the 2016 DFL-Supercup.
Bayern Munich won the final against Borussia Dortmund 4–3 on penalties, as the match finished 0–0 after extra time, to win their eighteenth title.
The following 64 teams qualified for the competition:
The DFB-Pokal begins with a round of 64 teams. The 36 teams of the Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga, along with the top 4 finishers of the 3. Liga are automatically qualified for the tournament. Of the remaining slots, 21 are given to the cup winners of the regional football associations, the Verbandspokal. The 3 remaining slots are given to the three regional associations with the most men's teams, which currently is Bavaria, Lower Saxony, and Westphalia. The runner-up of the cup for Lower Saxony is given the slot. The best amateur team of the Regionalliga Bayern and Oberliga Westfalen are given the slot for Bavaria and Westphalia, respectively. As every team is entitled to participate in local tournaments which qualify for the association cups, every team can in principle compete in the DFB-Pokal. Reserve teams are not permitted to enter. No two teams of the same association or corporation may participate in the DFB-Pokal.
The draws for the different rounds are conducted as following:
For the first round, the participating teams will be split into two pots of 32 teams each. The first pot contains all teams which have qualified through their regional cup competitions, the best four teams of the 3. Liga, and the bottom four teams of the 2. Bundesliga. Every team from this pot will be drawn to a team from the second pot, which contains all remaining professional teams (all the teams of the Bundesliga and the remaining fourteen 2. Bundesliga teams). The teams from the first pot will be set as the home team in the process.
The two-pot scenario will also be applied for the second round, with the remaining 3. Liga and/or amateur team(s) in the first pot and the remaining Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga teams in the other pot. Once again, the 3. Liga and/or amateur team(s) will serve as hosts. This time the pots do not have to be of equal size though, depending on the results of the first round. Theoretically, it is even possible that there may be only one pot, if all of the teams from one of the pots from the first round beat all the others in the second pot. Once one pot is empty, the remaining pairings will be drawn from the other pot with the first-drawn team for a match serving as hosts.
For the remaining rounds other than the final, the draw will be conducted from just one pot. Any remaining 3. Liga and/or amateur team(s) will be the home team if drawn against a professional team. In every other case, the first-drawn team will serve as hosts.
Teams meet in one game per round. A match will take place for 90 minutes, with two-halves of 45 minutes. If still tied after regulation, 30 minutes of extra time will be played, consisting of two periods of 15 minutes. If the score is still level after this, the match will be decided by a penalty shoot-out. A coin toss will decide who takes the first penalty.
If a player receives five yellow cards, even throughout multiple seasons, he will then be banned from the next cup match. If a player receives a second yellow card, they will be banned from the next cup match. If a player receives a red card, they will be banned a minimum of one match, but more can be added by the German Football Association.
The winner of the DFB-Pokal earns automatic qualification for the group stage of next year's edition of the UEFA Europa League. If they have already qualified for the UEFA Champions League through position in the Bundesliga, then the spot will go to the team in sixth, and the league's third qualifying round spot will go to the team in seventh. The winner also will host the DFL-Supercup at the start of the next season, and will face the champion of the previous year's Bundesliga, unless the same team wins the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal, completing a double. In that case, the runner up of the Bundesliga will take the spot and host instead.
The rounds of the 2015–16 competition are scheduled as follows:
A total of sixty-three matches took place, starting with round 1 on 7 August 2015 and culminating with the final on 21 May 2016 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The draw for the first round was held on 10 June 2015. Former national team player Karlheinz Förster led the draw, with tennis player Andrea Petkovic drawing from the pots.
The thirty-two matches took place from 7 to 10 August 2015.
As usual, a small number of lower-division teams had to play their home matches at different locations than their usual home grounds. This includes TuS Erndtebrück, who had to play in the Leimbachstadion in Siegen, Bremer SV, who had to switch to the Sportpark am Vinnenweg in Bremen, and FC Nöttingen, who had to play in the Wildparkstadion in Karlsruhe.
All times are CEST (UTC+2).
The draw for the second round was held on 14 August 2015. Then DFB president Wolfgang Niersbach led the draw, with skier Felix Neureuther drawing from the pots.
The sixteen matches took place on 27 and 28 October 2015. The lowest ranked team left in the competition was SSV Reutlingen from the fifth tier of German football.
All times are CET (UTC+1).
The draw for the round of 16 was held on 1 November 2015. DFB general secretary Helmut Sandrock led the draw, with musician Vanessa Mai drawing from the pot.
The eight matches took place on 15 and 16 December 2015. The lowest ranked team left in the competition was SpVgg Unterhaching from the fourth tier of German football.
All times are CET (UTC+1).
The draw for the quarter-finals was held on 16 December 2015. DFB general secretary Helmut Sandrock led the draw, with handballer Carsten Lichtlein drawing from the pot.
The four matches took place on 9 and 10 February 2016. The lowest ranked teams left in the competition were VfL Bochum and 1. FC Heidenheim from the second tier of German football.
All times are CET (UTC+1).
The draw for the semi-finals was held on 10 February 2016. DFB vice-president Peter Frymuth led the draw, with handballer Andreas Wolff drawing from the pot.
The two matches took place on 19 and 20 April 2016. All remaining teams left in the competition were from the first tier of German football.
All times are CEST (UTC+2).
The final took place on 21 May 2016 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The following is the bracket which the DFB-Pokal resembled. Numbers in parentheses next to the match score represent the results of a penalty shoot-out.
The following are the top scorers of the DFB-Pokal, sorted first by number of goals, and then alphabetically if necessary. Goals scored in penalty shoot-outs are not included.
In Germany, all matches and the "conference" were broadcast live on pay TV via Sky Sport. Selected matches from the first round to the quarter-finals are broadcast on free TV by Das Erste from ARD. Both semi-final matches and the final are broadcast by both Sky Sport and Das Erste.
The following matches will be broadcast live on free German television channel Das Erste:
Matches are also broadcast in various other countries around the world.
Each participating team received a reward from the TV money and from the central promotional marketing (TV, stadium, and sleeve advertising) by the DFB. It was distributed as about €50 million to the 64 participants of the competition from 2015 to 2016. For wearing the sleeve advertising each participant received, according to the implementing provisions of the DFB-Pokal, €10,000 per game and round.