It’s a game that all of Germany will be watching, as will the rest of the world. Fans in every corner of the globe will be able to follow the DFB-Pokal final between RB Leipzig and FC Bayern München. Over 74,000 fans will be cheering their side on at Berlin’s Olympiastadion, with another 10 million plus watching on German TV. The DFB-Pokal is always a worthy ending to the domestic season. Everyone wants to be in Berlin, and they’ve been fighting to be there since the start of the campaign. DFB vice president Peter Frymuth loves those early-season fixtures in particular. “The first round is always an emotional affair with so many small clubs across Germany preparing for one of the biggest games. Experiencing that excitement is what makes the DFB-Pokal so special for me,” said Frymuth.
Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller has had quite an exciting month. May began with a visit to the capital from Prince Charles, before more royalty arrived in Berlin in the form of the DFB-Pokal trophy, which was put on display in the town hall as is tradition ahead of the final. “Meeting Price Charles was a thrill, but welcoming the DFB-Pokal is up there!” said the mayor at the official cup handover. There were long queues of Berliners and tourists alike at the town hall to catch a glimpse of the trophy. It’s the 35th year in a row that the final will be held in the capital’s Olympiastadion. The city has embraced it and the pilgrimage there to see your team in the big game is a must for any true fan.
FC Bayern’s final match of the season will also be the final match for three of their 2013 treble winning side at the club. Brazilian full-back Rafinha (33) is leaving the record Pokal champions at the end of the season after eight successful years at the club. Two other players, who have contributed an incredible amount to German football in the last decade, are also leaving the club. Younger FC Bayern fans cannot imagine a club without Franck Ribéry (36) nor Arjen Robben (35). Ribéry has played for Bayern since 2007 while Robben has been at the club since 2009. Both have played vital roles in arguably one of FC Bayern’s most successful eras in their history.
Having just won his ninth Bundesliga title, Ribéry has now more won Bundesliga titles for the record champions than any other player. The Frenchman was also named European Footballer of the Year in 2013, the last player in the Bundesliga to win the award. 2013 proved to be a very successful year for the Bavarian club, clinching a treble of titles. After securing the Bundesliga crown, Bayern went on to win both the DFB-Pokal and Champions League as Arjen Robben wrote his name into the club’s history books. In an all German final against Borussia Dortmund, the Dutchman set up for Mario Mandzukic for the opening. However, there was still more drama to come as ‘Robbéry’ linked up in the 89th minute to secure Bayern’s fifth European cup. Ribéry played in Robben to sent the travelling fans wild. Following the match, Matthias Reim even wrote a song about the winning goal on that night at Wembley Stadium called “Der Arjen hat’s gemacht.”
The pair will say goodbye to Bayern exactly six years on from that famous night in London. The duo received the perfect send off from their home fans last weekend as Bayern clinched the Bundesliga title on the final day with a 5-1 win against Eintracht Frankfurt. “What we have experienced together is something very special,” said Robben. “It hasn’t been unbelievably fun to play on the pitch with Franck.” The Frenchman spoke about a “wonderful story” the duo have gone through together. “I’m incredibly grateful to have been able to enjoy this experience.” The club are also grateful for all the effort they have given to the team. “They have helped to shape the most successful decade in FC Bayern’s history by playing fantastic football,” said club president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. ‘Robbéry’ will return to Munich for one last match together in a testimonial next year.
‘Robbéry’ have enjoyed success in the DFB-Pokal before and will hope to end their time with the Bavarian club in style as FC Bayern go in search of the domestic double. This will be their 23rd DFB-Pokal final while opponents RB Leipzig will become the 36th club to participate in the final in Berlin. The young Saxony club will hope to secure their maiden major title at the first attempt.
RB Leipzig were founded ten years ago and reached the Bundesliga in 2016. ‘Die Roten Bullen’ are the first club from Saxony to reach the DFB-Pokal final since Dresdner SC in 1941. They went on to lift the trophy on three occasions, winning each final 2-1. Leipzig’s current squad features ten players who helped the team secure promotion to the top flight in 2016. These include Yussuf Poulsen and Diego Demme, who both played for the club in the 3. Liga.
This isn’t just RB Leipzig’s first trip to Berlin for the final. The Saxony club have already made history by reaching the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the competition for the very first time this season. Leipzig finished the Bundesliga season in third place behind Bayern and Borussia Dortmund, securing a place in next season’s Champions League in the process. The DFB-Pokal final will see the two best teams of this season’s Rückrunde go head-to-head. Both of the previous meetings between the two sides this season have been tight affairs. In December, Franck Ribéry broke the deadlock in the Allianz Arena with just seven minutes to go to give Bayern a crucial win. Meanwhile, in the return fixture in Leipzig two weeks ago, the match ended goalless.
RB Leipzig possessed the best defence in the 2018/19 Bundesliga season, conceding just 29 goals. Leipzig have also only lost twice since the start of the calendar year. Meanwhile, opponents Bayern had the best attack this season, scoring 88 goals in just 34 Bundesliga matches. Both teams will enter the final with either a sense of calculated optimism or the sense that “every match starts at 0-0. This certainly isn’t a ‘David vs. Goliath’ final as both teams are on a par with each other and have shown that this season. “We’ve had a lot of fun together. We also know what we have to do to win the final,” explained playmaker Emil Forsberg. “We have been training hard each day and have managed to reach the final. We also now want to secure the title.”
FC Bayern always have the ambition to win a major trophy, regardless of what trophy and where and when the match is. After securing their seventh Meisterschale in a row, this would secure a domestic double for the season. That would be Bayern’s first double since 2016 and their twelth ever. Thomas Müller has proved to be the winning recipe in securing the double for Bayern. Whenever Müller has scored in the final in Berlin, Bayern have gone on to win – this may be the secret to Bayern’s 21st DFB-Pokal triumph.