RB Leipzig face record champions FC Bayern München in the DFB-Pokal on Saturday (20:00 CEST). The same fixture took place in the second round of the competition last season, and if this game is anything to go by, it will be an exciting match. The two sides had to be separated by penalties.
The two sides were only one point apart in the Bundesliga in October of the 2017/18 season, and Bayern had just brought in a new head coach following a poor run. FC Bayern were by no means the clear favourites going into the game. RB Leipzig were in their second Bundesliga season, already in the Champions League, and had won four games on the bounce.
Bayern had appointed Jupp Heynckes as their manager for the fourth time just eleven days earlier, and he’d begun with two wins. RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick said: “I’d say that Bayern would have wished for a different opponent.” Leipzig saw themselves as challengers with nothing to lose. Head coach Ralph Hasenhüttl said: “Bayern are a great team, and we’re on our way there.” Timo Werner asked: “Why can’t we beat Bayern too?”
Following Heynckes’ appointment, 61.5% of voters in a kicker survey predicted a Bayern victory. Bayern defender Mats Hummels said: “It’ll be a really good game of football, I’m sure of that.” The champions were missing Manuel Neuer (metatarsal), Franck Ribéry (knee) and Thomas Müller (hamstring). On the other hand, Leipzig had a fully fit squad to choose from.
42,558 fans attended the game in a sold-out Leipzig Arena. The newly-introduced video assistant referees (VAR) were only allowed to be consulted from the quarter-finals, so were not to be used in the game. In the 34th minute of the game, even VAR would have struggled to shed any more light on the situation. Arturo Vidal fouled Emil Forsberg and the referee punished him with a yellow card, but no penalty was given after consulting his assistant.
Leipzig continued to play without fear and tested Sven Ulreich in the Bayern goal more often than Peter Gulasci was tested in their own. Emil Forsberg and Jean-Kevin Augustin had the chance to put their side 1-0 up, but the goal didn’t come until the second half. Leipzig went down to ten men first, when Naby Keita received a red card following two bookings, in the 54th minute. Yussuf Poulsen was brought down in the box by Jerome Boateng in the 67th minute and Forsberg made no mistake from the spot to put Leipzig 1-0 up.
However, Bayern came back almost straight away, equalising through Thiago in the 73rd minute of the game. The game finished 1-1 and went into extra time, with Gulacsi outstanding and Bayern Under-23 player Kwasi Okyere Wriedt heading onto the crossbar.
The scores were still level after 120 minutes and the game went to penalties. None of the first nine players missed their spot-kicks, with Bayern scoring five times and Leipzig scoring four. Timo Werner was Leipzig’s fifth taker, and he had to score to keep his side in the competition. Werner shot towards the corner, but Ulreich guessed correctly and saved the penalty, sending FC Bayern into the next round.
“We allowed too many dangerous counter-attacks, and we had some luck in certain situations today,” said Hummels after the game. “The players are sitting in the dressing room and they don’t know how they’ve lost. What a heroic fight that we showed,” Hasenhüttl added. We’ll have the same again on Saturday in Berlin, please!
Leipzig: Gulácsi, Bernardo, Orban, Upamecano, Halstenberg, Kampl, Keïta, Sabitzer (101’ Laimer), Forsberg (109’ Klostermann), Poulsen (81’ Werner), Augustin (57’ Demme)
München: Ulreich, Kimmich, Boateng, Hummels, Alaba, Tolisso (88‘ Rafinha), Vidal (57‘ Rudy), Robben, Thiago (101‘ Wriedt), Coman (60‘ Martínez), Lewandowski
Goals: 1-0 Forsberg (68‘, PEN), 1-1 Thiago (73‘)
Penalty: 0-1 Lewandowski, 1-1 Bernardo, 1-2 Alaba, 2-2 Kampl, 2-3 Hummels, 3-3 Halstenberg, 3-4 Rudy, 4-4 Orban, 4-5 Robben, Ulreich saved Werner’s penalty
Referee: Zwayer (Berlin)
Red cards: Keïta (54‘)
Yellow cards: Boateng, Vidal, Kimmich, Thiago