After that exciting match between two Bundesliga titans it’s Exercise time. Breathe in. Take a deep breath. Exhale. Then play this clip below and repeat this exercise as you read on while doing squats. Go on. You know you want to.
See how that feels? This is what we call a breath of fresh air. That is what the 2016-17 DFB Pokal Final on May 27, 2017 at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany will be. The reason: Carlo Ancelotti’s FC Bayern Munich are not in it! I know, I know, I know, you may be thinking, what? How? Why? How can Die Bayern, the #MiaSanMia of hashtag renown, the Star of South and kings of the Bundesliga, be out of the Fatherland’s premier club cup competition. Established at the dawn of World War II back in good old 1935, a competition that they’ve won a record 18 times?
The answer? We’ll get to that in a bit. But first, let’s take a look at the designated home team for this cup final. The Eagles, Die Adler, of Niko Kovac’s Eintracht Frankfurt e.V. are based in the financial capital of Europe, Frankfurt-am-Main, Hesse. They were, once upon a time (technically, last season), on the brink of relegation to the second division. Miraculously, they survived the playoff and have come back stronger than ever. Through 30 matches, Eintracht are 11-8-11 (41 points) and a win in this cup final will ensure that they are in next year’s UEFA Europa League.
Mexican international Marco Fabian, who we regularly highlight along with all the other Mexican international abroad on TST, leads the team in goals with seven. A balanced scoring attack has kept Eintracht steady in the top flight, with Alexander Meirer scoring five goals and Branimir Hrgota with four. Fabian is also the team’s top provider with four assists.
Eintracht began their quest for the Pokal on Aug. 21 against 1.FC Magdeburg at the MDCC Arena in Mgdeburg. Hrgota scored in the seventh minute but the match went to penalties, with the visitors prevailing 4-3 after 1-1 draw. It was an untidy shootout, with Guillermo Varela‘s spot kick proving to be all the difference. And it would not be the last penalty shootout they would have on this run.
Indeed, Round 2 came calling, and following a scoreless draw, at the Commerzbank Arena, the match went to penalties against relegation-bound FC Ingolstadt 04. This was a cleaner effort, as all of its takers—Szabolcs Huszti, Bastian Oczipka, Omar Mascarell and Makoto Hasebe—converted for a decisive 4-1 win on Oct. 25.
The Round of 16 was a breath of fresh air for Eintracht, who traveled to the HDI Arena to face promotion-bound Hannover 96, who had been relegated last season. Taleb Tawatha (62′) and Hans Seferovic (66′) scored for Eintracht in a 2-1 win on Feb. 8. Another tense battle took place on Feb. 28 against Arminia Bielefeld in the quarterfinals at Commerzbank Arena. A sixth minute goal from Danny Blum was all the hosts need to advance, 1-0.
In the semifinals, Eintracht Frankfurt took on Borussia Monchengladbach at Borussia Park. Tawatha scored in the 15th minute but in the second minute of second half stoppage tiome, Jonas Hofmann leveled proceedings. As with the first two rounds, Eintracht had to go through penalties. With the exception of Varela, all of Eintracht Frankfurt’s takers converted for a dramatic 7-6 win, with Hrgota’s conversion being the difference. Eintracht have won the DFB Pokal four times and a victory would be their first since 1988.
And who will the Eagles face? Well remember that clip you just played at the top of this article? That’s a medley of songs sung by the fans of…Thomas Tuchel’s Ballspielverein Borussia 09 e.V. Dortmund, Borussia Dortmund, from Dortmund, North Rhine-Westphalia. They don’t win trophies very often these days due to a certain star of the south consigning BVB (pronounced veh-foh-veh) to second fiddle and an irrelevant afterthought in the mainstream football zeitgeist. More on them in a bit. (See, we told you to continue reading! Ahhhh…)
A win in this final, in which they are favored, would tie them with Eintracht for cups won with four and it would be their first since 2012. Back then, a charming man by the name of Jurgen Klopp was the manager. The man to watch, of course, is Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has 27 goals this season and is a target of Paris Saint-Germain. Aubameyang has played in Ligue 1 before, with Saint-Etienne. Raphael Guerreiro and Ousmane Dembele have six goals this season while Lukasz Piszczek has five. Dembele is also the team’s top provide with 11 assists.
Dortmund began their campaign on Aug. 22 against Eintracht Trier at the Moselstadion in Trier. A brace from Shinji Kagawa in the eighth and 33rd minutes and some 45th minute insurance from Andre Schurrle powered BVB to a comprehensive 3-0 win. A stern test came on Oct. 26 against Union Berlin at Signal Iduna Park. Michael Parensen scored an own goal to put Dortmund ahead but they gave up a late equalizer and the match went to penalties. But it wasn’t even close. Dembele, Matthias Ginter and Mario Gotze all converted from the spot give Dortmund an easy 3-0 penalty shootout victory at home.
Another tough contest at Signal Iduna Park came in the Round of 16 against Hertha BSC. Salomon Kalou scored in the 27th minute to put the visitors ahead but Marco Reus leveled proceedings in the 47th minute of play. Indeed, it would be Kalou’s miss bailing out a similar gaffe from USMNT younger Christian Pulisic as Dortmund prevailed 3-2 in what was a wasteful shootout for Hertha.
The match with Sporfreunde Lotte on March 14 was moved from the week of Feb. 28-Mar. 1 due to pitch conditions at the Stadion an der Bremer Brücke. This was a straightforward contest as Pulisic (57′), Schurrle (66′) and Marcel Schmelzer put away Lotte 3-0 in the quarterfinals.
That set up a massive showdown with the defending cup holders Bayern Munich. And this was a classic at Allianz Arena. Reus started proceedings in the 19th minute but Javi Martinez (28′) and Mats Hummels (41′) made it 2-1 to the holders. But in the second half, Dortmund dominated through wonderful strikers from Aubameyang (69′) and Dembele (74′) for a come-from-behind 3-2 win.
It’s been a road full of penalty shootout lotteries, drama, momentum shifts, cow paddock football…both teams in this final have gone through it all and seen it all. And on May 27, we will know who is our 2016-17 DFB Pokal champion. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT/3 p.m. ET. This will be our bonus coverage to our Live Blog of the Coupe de France Final, a blog that starts at 6 a.m. with coverage of the Scottish Cup Final and the FA Cup Final. Here are your 10 Bold Predictions for Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Borussia Dortmund.
- Roman Burki will make at least four saves.
- At least four cards will be issued.
- At least 40 fouls will be whistled.
- Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will score for Borussia Dortmund.
- Ousmane Dembele will score for Borussia Dortmund.
- Marco Reus will score for Borussia Dortmund.
- Lukas Hrsdecky will make under five saves.
- Branimir Hrgota will score for Eintracht Frankfurt.
- A goal will be scored in the last 15 minutes and stoppage time.
- Christian Pulisic will score for Borussia Dortmund.
Borussia Dortmund 4, Eintracht Frankfurt 1