Bayern Munich ought to beat Bayer Leverkusen in German Cup ultimate, however Havertz and Co. have hope

Bayern Munich ought to beat Bayer Leverkusen in German Cup ultimate, however Havertz and Co. have hope

Saturday sees the German season conclude when Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, who completed fifth, meet within the German Cup ultimate at Berlin’s Olympiastadion (2 p.m. ET; Football4cast2/Football4cast Deportes). Gab Marcotti breaks down the sport.

The pregame kind and vibe …

For the second straight yr — and 13th within the Bundesliga period — Bayern Munich wish to do the League and Cup Double (and, maybe, make it a Treble in August when the Champions League returns). Freshly topped champions of Germany (with the second highest objectives total in historical past), they’ve received 16 straight video games in all competitions and 24 of their previous 25 going again to 2019. It was their eighth consecutive German title and their 30th general. In addition they maintain the report for many German cups, with 19.

If Bayern are Bavarian blue bloods, then Bayer Leverkusen, who get their title from the pharmaceutical firm that introduced us aspirin, are very a lot upstarts. They’ve by no means been German champions, though they completed as runners-up 5 occasions and received the German Cup again in 1993. This season, they missed Champions League qualification on the penultimate week of the season once they misplaced to Hertha Berlin. That stated, they’re one in every of solely 4 German teams to have overwhelmed Bayern in 2019-20.

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The managers

Former German nationwide team assistant coach Hansi Flick took over as interim boss in November after Bayern sacked Niko Kovac. (By no means thoughts that Kovac received the league and cup the yr earlier than, they usually have been simply three factors off the highest spot when he left — Bayern set the bar excessive). Flick rapidly misplaced the interim tag because the team started firing on all cylinders.

Regardless of shedding some key males (Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez) to harm for a lot of the season, Bayern went on a tear. Flick is a well-liked as a gamers’ coach, but in addition performs enticing attacking football and is unafraid to make huge choices, like benching from Barcelona and Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho.

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Peter Bosz is a little bit of an acquired style, taking up at Leverkusen midway by way of the 2018-19 season and lifting the membership from 10th to fifth. The Dutchman’s high-octane type primarily based on possession, attacking in numbers and flat-out pace is seductive, however he flopped in his final job, at Borussia Dortmund. He is very a lot a feast-or-famine-type man, and taking part in protection on his teams isn’t for the faint-hearted.

Fortunately for him, he can rely on Edmond Tapsoba, one of many revelations of the second half of the Bundesliga season, in addition to the unflappable Bender twins, Lars and Sven, each of whom are former German internationals. Then there’s Kai Havertz, however extra of him later …

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Key head-to-head battle

Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski, who turns 32 subsequent month and delivered a career-high 34 league objectives (in simply 31 league video games) this season, is arguably one of the best within the enterprise at center-forward. The Polish striker is cellular, athletic and ruthless within the field; his battle with Tapsoba shall be one to look at.

The following huge factor

Havertz has had scouts excited since he made his debut for Leverkusen at 17, 4 years in the past. Tall and stylish however with the contact and shut management of a a lot smaller participant, this man-child’s abilities are distinctive. It’s robust to inform what his finest place is and he has performed each up entrance and in midfield this season.

Mockingly — and disappointingly for some — he is been linked with a transfer to Bayern, like so many gifted German gamers down the years. The cup ultimate might be his final sport for Leverkusen.

The DFB-Pokal was based in 1935 and has been received a report 19 occasions by Bayern Munich. Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Pictures

Two others to look at

Thomas Muller, 30, has been at Bayern for the reason that age of 11 and is the team’s emotional chief. Along with his silverware with the Bavarians, he received the World Cup with Germany in 2014, however his profession suffered a lull after the 2018 event. This season, he roared again with one in every of his finest campaigns, hitting double digits for objectives and serving up a league report 21 assists.

Not essentially the most aesthetically pleasing participant to look at — he can look gangly and clumsy — Muller is athletic and tremendous good on the pitch, as evidenced by his nickname “Raumdeuter” (“Area Investigator” in German) for the way in which he all the time appears to be in the proper place on the proper time.

Leon Bailey has had an up-and-down season at Leverkusen, however scored twice in a win at Bayern in November. The Jamaican is likely one of the quickest gamers within the Bundesliga, and his potential battle with one other candidate in that space — Bayern left-back Alphonso Davies — can be a showdown of CONCACAF stars. Bailey represents a steady menace on the break and might preserve any opponent pinned again.

Bayern will win if …

… they do not screw it up. They’ve the expertise and the athleticism to cope with Leverkusen’s forwards, and Bosz’ penchant for leaving his personal defence uncovered is an invite for devastation by Lewandowski, Muller, Serge Gnabry and the remainder of Bayern’s entrance males. Midfield playmaker Thiago Alcantara is racing to be slot in time, and he would undoubtedly assist, however the actuality is they’re most likely nice with out him.

Bayer Leverkusen will win if …

… they rating first — maybe Havertz’s genius creates one thing out of nothing — after which handle to hit Bayern once more on the counter-attack. (The fact is one aim most likely will not be sufficient provided that their opponents have failed to attain simply as soon as in a sport over the previous 12 months). Leverkusen additionally have to restrict the injury on the different finish; that may solely occur if Tapsoba and the Benders have the sport of their lives and goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky stands on his head.

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