Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt are set to take on each other in the DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion on Saturday.
This season in the Bundesliga was much of the same and it followed suit with Bayern Munich lifting the title for the fifth season in a row. The Bavarians were given a stiff fight initially by RB Leipzig, but ended up fending off the challenge to win the league.
Borussia Dortmund narrowly secured automatic Champions League qualification with a win on the final day of the season as they finished third – a colossal eighteen points off winners Bayern Munich.
However, all is not all doom and gloom for them as they now have a DFB-Pokal final to look forward to, and fortunately it’s not against their arch nemesis Bayern, to whom they have lost in their last three finals.
It is against a Frankfurt side that has had a poor league season, finishing in a dismal 11th place. They have won the Pokal on four different occasions, but their last win came in 1998. That being said, history goes out of the window in cup finals, and they will be looking to cause a massive upset on Saturday.
Team News and Tactics
Frankurt are blessed with a master tactician at the helm in Niko Kovac. The former Croatia head coach has done a decent job with a relatively average squad, despite a few major hiccups on the way.
However, Kovac and his men will be a hundred percent focused on the final, and will look to end the season on a high. The Croatian has fancied a 3-4-3 all season, and is likely to employ the same formation on Saturday.
In defence, all eyes will be on the central defender of the back three David Abraham, who is likely to be kept on his toes all evening. He will be facing a ferocious goal scorer in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and is likely to man mark him throughout the game.
Timothy Chandler will be designated as a wing-back, but is likely to play a more defensive game compared to his partner Taleb Tawatha who prefers to surge upfront and link up with the attack.
Chandler will be handed the role to keep out the threat of Marco Reus, who is expected to play on the left flank. The German is one of the most promising dribblers the game has to offer, and Chandler really needs to be up for it or he could suffer intense humiliation.
While Haris Seferovic will be given the onus to hit the back of the net, while right wing forward Marco Fabian is expected to play a key role in setting up chances for the striker. The Mexican has been in incredible form this season, and the opponents have often been caught out of position tracking the player’s runs.
Eintracht Frankfurt Probable XI: Hradecky; Hecotr, Abraham, Vallejo; Chandler, Gacinovic, Oczipka, Tawatha; Fabian, Seferovic, Hrgota.
Thomas Tuchel is an attacking manager, and it’s almost a given that his side will be looking to play at a high tempo from the outset, looking to unsettle the opposition defence. However, due to a number of injuries in his squad, he will have to improvise with the riches available at his disposal.
The absence of Julian Weigl due to injury will see Nuri Sahin step into the fold, and the veteran will be tasked to shield the back four. With Frankfurt likely to exploit the flanks, Sahin could be asked to do a man marking job on Marco Fabian all evening.
The Dortmund midfielder has the experience as fell as the tactical know-how to step up on the bigger occasions. He has often been Dortmund’s rock in the middle of the park, and is expected to shine in the final.
Dortmund boast two pacey and agile wingers in Reus and Ousmane Dembele, who will be playing in and around the talismanic striker Aubameyang. The three of them, when working in tandem and have the potential to frighten even the best of defences in Europe.
All of the three aforementioned players have plenty of goals, assists, and overall tenacity in them to win the match for their team. Tuchel is likely to ask his creative midfielders to sit slightly deeper, almost playing in a 4-1-2-3 shape.
Borussia Dortmund Probable XI: Burki, Piszczek, Bartram Sokratis, Schmelzer; Sahin; Castro, Kagawa; Dembele, Aubameyang, Reus.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been directly involved in nine goals (seven goals, two assists) in his nine competitive games against Frankfurt.
- Marco Reus has scored four goals and assisted three in his last five DFB Cup appearances.
- The two sides have met on four occasions in the DFB Cup. Eintracht won the first two ties (6-2 in 1968/69 and 3-1 in 1978/79) and the Black & Yellows emerged victorious in the last two (2-1 in 2007/08 and 1-0 in 2013/14).
- Frankfurt are only the second finalists to have won three penalty shootouts en route to a final. Shootouts aside, they have only scored five goals in this year’s competition.
- The so called ‘Hawkeye’ will be deployed in the game, with video assistants on standby.
Player to watch out for
The Gabon international forward has taken the entire continent by storm with his dazzling performances for Borussia Dortmund, and he will be looking to end the season on a high with a splendid effort against Frankfurt.
Aubameyang won the Golden Boot with 31 goals to his name in the league this season, and has also seen a number of clubs take an avid interest in him. With the player’s future hinging in the balance, he will be looking to end on a good note if this is indeed his final game for Dortmund.
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-2 Borussia Dortmund
It’s hard to see past a Dortmund win particularly due to their strength in attack as compared to Frankfurt’s rather meek defence. The Black and Yellows possess the better team on paper and arguably a better manager on the touchline.
Dortmund have played like a cohesive unit all season, unlike Frankfurt who have looked disjoint on occasion. It will certainly not be a cakewalk, but Die Adler will have to come up with something out of the blue to come away with a victory on Saturday.