DFB Cup: “Final of Giants”: Dortmund vs FC Bayern

Just one goal in four hours of playing time, but extremely high tension and many emotions marked the semi-final matches in the DFB Cup. The final at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin on 12 May will be a clash of “Giants”, the two favourites, one of whom will in most likelihood celebrate victory in the German football championship on 5 May. Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich, who will also meet on April 11 for the title match in the Bundesliga, have made it into the final of the Cup of the German Football Association, DFB. The Bavarians, who have won the DFB Cup 15 times, and two-time winners Dortmund met last in the DFB Cup final in April 2008, when Munich won 2-1 after extra time.

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Ilkay Guendogan of Borussia Dortmund yells loudly after scoring the winning goal for a 1-0 victory against Greuther Fuerth. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

 


The Cup competition presented itself in the best light, captivating thousands in the stadiums and millions in front of their TV sets on Tuesday and Wednesday, 20/21 March. The participants were the three best Bundesliga teams and the current leading team in the second division, who are hoping to finally play in the top division next season. SpVgg Greuther Fuerth were tragic losers, followed by Borussia Moenchengladbach. Fuerth lost 1-0 (0-0, 0-0) to Dortmund at home through a goal in the last second of the game, the 120th minute. With the Franconians already preparing for a penalty shoot-out, Ilkay Guendogan, the German international with Turkish roots, rammed home the “Golden Goal” for the reigning German champions.

Tragic figures: Fuerth’s Fejzic and Gladbach’s Dante

Dortmund needed the assistance of Jasmin Fejzic, the host’s goalkeeper who had come on as a late substitute. The Bosnian is known as a “penalty killer” and also shoots very good penalties himself. That’s why he had been substituted for regular keeper Max Gruen. But Fejzic turned out to be a jinx, making contact with the ball just once. When Guendogan’s shot hit the post, the ball bounced against the goalkeeper’s back and from there into the net for the winning goal. That was the end of the match. “I could cry my eyes out. You simply can’t be more unlucky”, bewailed the 25-year-old goalkeeper. Fuerth’s coach Mike Bueskens had banked on some decisive saves from Fejzic in the penalty shoot-out.

The Dortmunders, who had defeated then second division leaders Fortuna Duesseldorf in the quarter-finals in a penalty shoot-out last December, celebrated as robustly as if they had won the title. Some bitter crosstalk, instigated in the main by Dortmund’s Kevin Grosskreutz, almost ended in an angry confrontation after the match. Grosskreutz clashed with Bueskens and Fuerth’s Gerald Asamoah, who had played with Dortmund’s rivals Schalke in the past.

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FC Bayern Munich players celebrate after their 4-2, penalty shoot-out win over Moenchengladbach which took them into the DFB Cup final. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


The following day saw a 0-0 scoreline after 120 minutes in the second semi-final between Moenchengladbach and FC Bayern. Gladbach had defeated Munich twice this season in the Bundesliga (1-0, 3-1). The Bavarians had scored 20 goals in their previous three matches against Hoffenheim, Basle and Hertha BSC Berlin. But in this third top level encounter no goal was scored in 120 minutes. The German record-winning champions turned out to be the luckier team in the penalty shoot-out winning 4-2. And just like the previous day with Fuerth’s goalkeeper, one player carried the can for Gladbach’s defeat.

The Brazilian Dante, whose move to FC Bayern this summer is considered probable by many experts, shot his penalty over the bar. That put Borussia under pressure, and finally Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved the penalty from Norwegian Havard Nordtveit (formerly with Arsenal FC) -- and FC Bayern had reached their 18th DFB Cup final. “It was difficult to keep up the pace for 120 minutes. Bayern were clearly stronger than in August and January. The defeat in the penalty shoot-out is hard to accept”, said Gladbach’s coach Lucien Favre. “Both teams performed outstandingly, but we had the greater chances to score”, commented Bayern’s coach Jupp Heynckes after his great love, his former club Moenchengladbach, had been eliminated.

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Gladbach’s Dante (right) has just missed a penalty. Munich’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer rejoices. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


Other Bundesliga teams registered great interest and pleasure that Dortmund and Bayern will meet in the final, and that Fuerth were ousted. For consequently the chance has much improved for the seventh-placed team in the Bundesliga to qualify for the 2012-13 Europa League season. The seventh position is eligible for participation if Dortmund and Munich qualify for an international competition via the Bundesliga. That’s very likely as Dortmund are top and Munich second, both with expectations of playing in the Champions League.