Bayern Munich will be eyeing yet another domestic double when they lock horns with Bayer Leverkusen in the final of the DFB Pokal on Saturday.
Bayern Munich are one of the teams who still have a realistic chance of securing a treble in what has been a rather bizarre campaign. The German giants secured their eighth successive Bundesliga title at the end of last month with an eleven point gap over runners-up Borussia Dortmund.
On Saturday, Die Roten will look to secure the domestic double when they face Bayer Leverkusen at the iconic Olympiastadion, in the final of the DFB Pokal. The Bavarians are heading into this final on the back of a 2-1 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the semi-final, when a late goal from Robert Lewandowski sealed the tie.
Bayer Leverkusen, on the other hand, have been slouch this season, despite missing out on Champions League football by just two points. They have played an attractive brand of football under Peter Bosz, notably averaging almost two goals per game during the 2019/20 Bundesliga campaign.
At the same time, though, Die Werkself have had their fair share of shortcomings and were completely annihilated by Bayern Munich when the two teams last met at the start of June. Bosz will, thus, be hoping for an improved display from his men and here, at The Hard Tackle, we run the rule over the two sides ahead of this exciting DFB Pokal final at Olympiastadion this weekend.
Team News & Tactics
Bayern Munich have made quite a lot of moves in the transfer market this summer, notably signing PSG whizkid Tanguy Kouassi while Leroy Sane’s arrival from Manchester City was officiated earlier on Friday. It certainly does not bode well for Philippe Coutinho, although the Brazilian is fit to be considered in the starting lineup.
Same cannot be said for Corentin Tolisso and Thiago Alcantara, whose groin surgery means he will likely join Niklas Sule and Javi Martinez on the sidelines. As a result, we might once again witness Joshua Kimmich forming the midfield double pivot alongside Leon Goretzka.
In defence, Jerome Boateng has endured a lot of fitness problems throughout the month of June. But, the German might still be fit to start this game ahead of Lucas Hernandez. He should form the central defensive partnership alongside the ever-present figure of David Alaba, although the Austrian is facing an uncertain future at the club, with Chelsea reportedly interested in his services.
Elsewhere in defence, Benjamin Pavard and Alphonso Davies are guaranteed starters in the full-back slots while Manuel Neuer is set to start in goal. Finally, in attack, Serge Gnabry is likely to be fit to start against Bayer Leverkusen on the right wing while Kingsley Coman should get the nod ahead of Coutinho on the opposite flank.
Gnabry and Coman will be joined by Thomas Muller, thus forming the creative trio. The Bayern Munich attack will be spearheaded by none other than Robert Lewandowski, who recently finished the Bundesliga campaign as the league’s highest goalscorer.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies; Kimmich, Goretzka; Gnabry, Muller, Coman; Lewandowski
Unlike Hansi Flick, Peter Bosz is set to have the privilege of choosing from an almost fully fit Bayer Leverkusen side, with Karim Bellarabi being the only likely absentee. In the club’s final Bundesliga game against Mainz, the Dutchman made quite a lot of changes, notably giving youngsters the opportunity to perform.
However, he could revert those changes this weekend, Edmond Tapsoba, in particular, is set to return to the starting lineup, at the expense of Jonathan Tah.
The young defender, who is among the players tipped to make a breakthrough in the near future, is set to partner Sven Bender at the heart of the Leverkusen defence, with full-backs Lars Bender and Daley Sinkgraven providing additional support. This defensive block could be crucial as Leverkusen look to contain the Bayern Munich attack.
In midfield, Charles Aranguiz’s aggression and tenacity could be vital alongside the equally hard-working figure of Julian Baumgartlinger. These two will form the double pivot, although Exequiel Palacios is also an option should Bosz opt for a more aggressive style of play.
In attack, we could expect several changes, with Kai Havertz, in particular, set to replace Nadiem Amiri in the number ten slot. Youngster Florian Wirtz could also be replaced in favour of Moussa Diaby while the Leverkusen attack will be led by Kevin Volland.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Hradecky; Bender, Tapsoba, Bender, Sinkgraven; Baumgartlinger, Aranguiz; Diaby, Havertz, Bailey; Volland
- Robert Lewandowski has scored six goals in his five DFB Cup final appearances, making him the final’s all-time top scorer. By comparison, Bayer Leverkusen as a club have scored just three goals in their three finals to date.
- The coronavirus pandemic saw the 2020 DFB Cup final postponed from 23 May to 4 July, making this the latest final since 1974, when it actually took place at the start of the following season after the World Cup. That year it was held on 17 August.
- Hansi Flick caused a huge cup upset in 2003/04 when he led third-tier Hoffenheim to a 3-2 win over Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in the Round of 16.
- This is Bayern Munich’s 24th DFB Cup final, which is a competition record alongside the club’s 19 titles. Leverkusen have reached Berlin for the fourth time, looking to add to their sole cup win from 1993, when they beat the Hertha Berlin reserves, which was their last major honour.
- Bayern Munich have progressed from five of their six DFB Cup ties against Die Werkself, with the 4-2 defeat in the 2008/09 quarter-finals the only blip. This is their first meeting in the final.
Player to Watch
Tension has been brewing over the future of Havertz this summer. Regarded as one of the most promising youngsters in world football, the German whizkid has been in incredible form since the turn of the year. As a result, he has emerged as a subject of interest from a host of clubs across European football, including Chelsea.
Although Bayer Leverkusen are adamant on selling Havertz for a high fee, it goes without saying that this could potentially be his last game for Die Werkself. At the same time, it could also be an excellent opportunity for the playmaker to showcase his qualities to a broader set of audience.
Kevin Be Bruyne, back in 2015, did something similar, as his magical performance against Borussia Dortmund helped VfL Wolfsburg win the DFB Pokal in the corresponding campaign. It eventually earned him a big-money move to Manchester City in the same year.
Havertz will be looking to make a similar impact, although things could be much more difficult against a Bayern Munich side which has shown impeccable organisation and class throughout the reign of Hansi Flick.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Bayer Leverkusen
Bayern Munich are the undisputed favourites to seal the cup, mainly due to the gulf of quality between the two sides, In addition, the Bavarians are on a better run of form and their experienced and talented players know exactly how to deal with the high press of Bayer Leverkusen.
So, unless Peter Bosz comes up with a tactical masterpiece, we expect the Bundesliga champions to seal a comfortable 2-0 win and lift the DFB Pokal this weekend.