For the fourth time the DFB Cup final pairs Bayern Munich against Borussia Dortmund. The two by far best German teams of the season will again meet for the highlight and conclusion of a great year in German club football, in Berlin on May 21. Record-winning Cup champions FC Bayern won their semi-final home match 2-0 against Werder Bremen; the BVB defeated Hertha BSC Berlin 3-0 in the Olympic Stadium, the venue for the final.
Cautious rejoicing coupled with great relief prevailed among the Dortmunders at the Berlin Olympic Stadium on the evening of April 20, guaranteeing a last chance to crown an altogether excellent season with a title after a clear 3-0 victory over Bundesliga fourth-placed Hertha BSC Berlin. The BVB achieved a hat-trick of finals as the club was also represented at the festive day of German football in 2014 and 2015. Last year Dortmund lost 3-1 to VfL Wolfsburg . The Westphalians played their rivals from Munich there in 2008, 2012 and 2014. But only in 2012 did Dortmund manage to defeat the Bavarians, and that memorable 5-2 victory made history. “To play Bayern in the final is one of the most challenging tasks in world football”, said captain Mats Hummels about the new duel on May 21. “We would have a greater chance if we played Vestenbergsgreuth.”
The BVB performed brilliantly again in Berlin, although that had not necessarily been expected. For the team coached by Thomas Tuchel were still nursing the bitter 4-3 defeat suffered at Liverpool FC one week previously, bringing a quarter-final elimination from the Europa League. Hummels had quarrelled with both himself and his team-mates after losing a 3-1 lead against the new team of former Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp. But after the victory over Hertha, with goals by Gonzalo Castro (20th), Marco Reus (75th) and Henrikh Mkhitarian (83rd) the 27-year-old World Cup champion, as well as Tuchel, expressed happiness with the team’s performance.
They were “very strong”, said Hummels. Tuchel meted out a “big, big compliment” all round. “We needed this performance”, the coach added with regard to the Liverpool disaster. The 3-0 Bundesliga win over Hamburger SV three days previously had not been a difficult challenge for the shape of the Black-Yellows. In Berlin they impressively proved their quality to reach their eighth DFB Cup final. The Westphalians reckon they have a realistic chance against Bayern in the final. “We have the capability to beat them“, Hummels said.
From Hertha’s point of view, as well as the majority of the 76,233 capacity crowd at the Olympic Stadium, the evening was sobering however. The Berliners have a further wait to reach a Cup final in their city. The final has been held at the Olympic Stadium since 1985. Hertha’s professionals last participation in the final was in 1979 (1-0 defeat by Dusseldorf). Their amateurs reached the final at home in1993, but lost 1-0 to Leverkusen. Coach Pal Dardai was not at all pleased with the performance of his team, currently enjoying their best Bundesliga season for many years. “I never had any hopes”, said the Hungarian about the match. “We only ran after the Dortmunders, didn’t get into challenges”.
Since Bayern had reached their 21st final the previous day, offering the prospect of their 18th Cup triumph, an unpleasant topic dominated the headlines. After Thomas Mueller’s header to give Bayern a 1-0 lead (30th) Bremen, threatened by relegation, fought stubbornly for an equalizer in the second half. But in the 70th minute Munich’s midfielder Arturo Vidal and referee Tobias Stieler were at the centre of attention. Vidal had put the ball past straddling Janek Sternberg in the box when he suddenly fell spectacularly. Stieler awarded a penalty although the Bremen player had not even touched the Chilean.
Unfazed, Mueller converted the “non-foul” penalty to make it 2-0 (71st). The German international commented ironically after the match: “I’ve heard that there were penalties given which were more justified”. Coach Pep Guardiola was embarrassed by Vidal‘s action: “The penalty was not a penalty, I’m sorry.” Germany’s football fans discussed the incident, the media commented on it. “Arturo Vidal is the cleverest yob of the league”, commented the national newspaper “Die Welt”. Munich’s board chairman, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, distanced himself from Vidal: “We are not known for producing dives. That’s not really what FC Bayern want”. In the end Bayern Munich reached the final quite effortlessly. It is a fact that the German champions and the German runners-up will play each other for the Cup on May 21. It is considered impossible that Dortmund can still snatch the championship title from Munich. Their advantage of seven points with just four Bundesliga matches remaining is simply too big.