The first surprise was that powerhouse VfB Leipzig, who had won the inaugural tournament and had stood in the canceled finals of the 2nd tournament, decided not to defend their title. Financial problems (hey, not unlike modern day Leipzig) meant that VfB could not participate. Also contributing was the fact that as amateurs, German players also had to consider time off from work. As a result, one of the early favorites was eliminated before even taking the field.
This year, preliminary rounds were required for some of the regional champions. And once again, poor organization and finances made it a somewhat crap undertaking. Breslau won their first match against Cottbus, but then decided they no longer had enough funds to continue, so they forfeited against Magdeburg. One of the beneficiaries was Karlsruher FV, still considered one of Germany's stronger teams. In the regional championship, KFV was supposed to play against Hanau 1893, but the latter showed up with only two players. Therefore, KFV was declared the winner. After a tough match against Western champions Duisburg, they then received a bye in the semis. There they would be heavy favorites against the relatively unknown Union 92 Berlin. (This club should not be confused with the modern Union Berlin.) The Berliners had run a brilliant campaign in the Berlin championship, finishing ahead of other illustrious clubs such as Britannia.
Karlsruhe was a heavy favorite. Not only did they play a relatively attractive style of passing football, but they also were becoming more modern in their management as well. They had strengthened their squad by signing two Dutch players as well. Berlin also seemed to be at a disadvantage of their own making as well. Prior to the match, captain Kurt Heinrich was enraged that star GK Paul Eichelmann apparently been enjoying too much beer for several nights. So Heinrich benched Eichelmann and put in unknown Krüger. (Nobody even knows his first name). Eichelmann, although fairly short for a keeper, had a fine reputation - during an England tour in 1901, several English clubs had offered him professional contracts. He would also later represent Germany on the international stage.
So bereft of an experienced GK, and facing a skilled KFV, most expected a one sided thumping. However the favored club immediately got into trouble, as Union started off quickly with a "kick and rush" style, which caught KFV off guard, conceding a goal. For the rest of half, Karlsruhe assaulted the Berlin goal, but No-name Krüger rose to the occasion with brilliant saves. In the 2nd half, Berlin again scored early, and KFV dominated the rest - but the final station was always Krüger. While Berlin's tactics weren't exactly pretty (thumping the ball forward at every opportunity), it proved to be effective, and Karlsruhe was unable to overcome it.
1. Preliminary Round: Schlesien Breslau - Alemannia Cottbus 5:1 Eintracht Braunschweig - Hannover 96 3:2 ot Viktoria Magdeburg - Schlesien Breslau (forfeit) 2. Preliminary Round: Eintracht Braunschweig - Viktoria Magdeburg 2:1 ot Qtr-finals: Union 1892 Berlin - Eintracht Braunschweig 4:1 (0:1) Karlsruher FV - Duisburger SV 1:0 (1:0) Dresdner SC - FC Victoria Hamburg 5:3 (2:2) Semi-finals: Dresdner SC - Union 1892 Berlin 2:5 (0:3) Karlsruher FV (bye) FINAL: (Köln) Union 1892 Berlin - Karlsruher FV 2:0 (1:0) 1:0 Wagenseil (10.), 2:0 Herzog (50.) Attendance: 3,500