A southern Derby - FCB vs Stuttgart

The third southern Derby of the 2012-13 season between FC Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart will take place at the Berlin Olympic Stadium on 1 June. There was great rejoicing among the Stuttgarters when they reached the final of the DFB Cup for the sixth time, after defeating SC Freiburg 2-1 (2-1) in the Württemberg-Baden Derby. Artur Boka’s (10th) and Martin Harnik’s (28th) goals in front of 60,449 spectators at Mercedes Benz Arena in Stuttgart on 17 April ascertained not only their participation in the final, but also qualification for the 2013-14 Europa League – independent from the result of the encounter with Bayern. Two weeks after winning their 23rd German championship title, the Bavarians once again showed their current outstanding form when thrashing VfL Wolfsburg 6-1 (2-1) in the other semi-final, and proved they are well geared up for the semi-final battles against FC Barcelona in the Champions League.

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VfB Stuttgart players celebrate after taking the lead against Freiburg: Gotoku Sakai, Artur Boka, Martin Harnik and Christian Gentner (from left). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

 


After the devastating 5-2 loss to Borussia Dortmund last year, Bayern reached their 19th DFB Cup final. Munich can now win their 16th German Football Association, DFB, Cup in Berlin at the conclusion of the German club competition season. If successful it would be the eighth time that Bayern has achieved the double of Championship and Cup. Their aim, however, is the so-called “treble”. To win the Champions League final at London’s Wembley Stadium on 25 May would be the greatest triumph after their bitter defeat by Chelsea at Bayern’s home stadium last year.

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Mario Mandzukic (centre) fights for the ball against Wolfsburg’s Makoto Hasebe (left) and Naldo. The Croat scored one goal during FC Bayern’s 6-1 win. (Photo: Rauchensteiner/Augenklick)


The Bavarians savoured their joy after the victory over Wolfsburg in front of 71,000 spectators on 16 April as intensively as Stuttgart on the following day. Mario Mandzukic (17th), Arjen Robben (35th) and Xherdan Shaqiri (50th) had scored the goals before Mario Gomez shone with a hat-trick (80th, 83rd, 86th) within seven minutes, just three minutes after replacing Mandzukic. The Wolfsburg goal by Diego (45th) ruined another possible record for Bayern because it was the first goal the team had conceded in this year’s Cup competition.

Bayern rejoice: “Now we want to win the pot”

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“The crowds are totally enthusiastic. The atmosphere in the stadium is gradually becoming unbelievable, eerie”, said FCB President Uli Hoeness after a fantastic Cup evening at Allianz Arena. “We have reached the final, as we wanted. Now we want to win the pot”, rejoiced Shaqiri, one of the players who personify the special class of FC Bayern. The little Swiss (“power pack”) was in the team because Franck Ribéry was suspended. He is invariably a substitute, as is striker Gomez. Shaqiri was the outstanding player of the match and is pushing to get into the regular line-up of coach Jupp Heynckes. The day after their brilliant victory over Wolfsburg, who didn’t disappoint their fans with strong resistance until the final quarter, the Bavarians were looking ahead towards their next opponents. Stuttgart were victorious in a classy Cup battle.

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Xerdan Shaqiri smiles at Mario Gomez. The Swiss was the outstanding player during FC Bayern’s 6-1 victory over Wolfsburg. Gomez notched a hat-trick. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

“Those are the special moments for which you do the job. It’s incredible”, said VfB coach Bruno Labbadia. “My team fought till exhaustion. They have always gone to the limit in the past two-and-a-half years. It makes me terribly happy that they have been rewarded for that”. Labbadia had most recently made the DFB Cup final with Bayer Leverkusen in 2009, losing 1-0 to Werder Bremen. In the Bundesliga the Swabians would have had only a slight chance of qualifying for the Europa League. But now they have ascertained participation because their opponents in the final, Munich, will compete in the Champions League as German champions. However, Stuttgart now want more. They are dreaming of their fourth Cup triumph, which would cause a major sensation against the currently brilliantly performing Bavarians. In the previous direct encounters this season the Labbadia team were thrashed 6-1 in Munich (2 September 2012) and lost 2-0 at home (27 January 2013).

Stuttgart’s coach Labbadia criticised media after reaching final

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But Labbadia also strongly criticised the media after reaching the DFB Cup final: “We escaped relegation, we qualified twice for the Europa League, but sometimes you have the feeling everything is just codswallop”, said Labbadia in an interview with the TV channel “Sky” about coverage in the regional media. After an early lead his team conceded a Freiburg equaliser by Jan Rosenthal (14th). Austrian Harnik put the hosts ahead again, but afterwards missed  several good opportunities to score more goals. In the thrilling final stage the VfB defended their 2-1 victory with great commitment and luck.

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Bruno Labbadia rejoices. The coach led VfB Stuttgart to their sixth participation in the DFB Cup final. But he also expressed criticism. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)

VfB Stuttgart who, as quarter-finalists, have the best results of all four Bundesliga clubs this season in the Europa League, have only bettered their weakness at home during the past few weeks. The 2-0 win over Borussia Moenchengladbach was just the fourth victory in their 14th Bundesliga home match. In the Europa League they won only one of six home matches (qualifying round 2-0 against Dynamo Moscow). Reaching the DFB Cup final, traditionally a great event in German football, is a great success for the club after a turbulent season and additional problems within the club’s administration.