Treble-chasing Bayern Munich are looking their second title this season in Saturday’s German Cup closing, a behind-closed-doors showdown that ought to have been an “absolute highlight” for success-starved Bayer Leverkusen followers. Normally, the end-of-season showpiece closing at Berlin’s iconic Olympic Stadium could be a festive affair in entrance of a packed home of 75,000 supporters. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, simply 700 shall be allowed into the large stadium for this 12 months’s closing, together with each groups, their backroom employees and officers.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew is without doubt one of the few invited company.
After the ultimate whistle, when German FA president Fritz Keller fingers over the trophy, solely the cheers of the profitable staff will echo across the cavernous stadium.
Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness finds it “a pity” that no followers shall be current for the Berlin spectacle, whereas Leverkusen sports activities director Rudi Voeller feels the identical earlier than his membership’s first cup closing since 2009.
“For our fans, this would have been an absolute highlight after many years,” mentioned former Germany midfielder Voeller.
“To play in this giant cauldron in front of just a few spectators is quite sad.”
Nevertheless, holders Bayern are decided to defend the cup, even when head coach Hansi Flick admits that with out travelling help, their followers shall be “very, very absent”.
Having lifted the Bundesliga trophy final Saturday for the eighth straight 12 months, Bayern are focusing on the subsequent piece of silverware of their treble bid earlier than tackling the Champions League in August.
“The boys are up for it and want to win the next title, we will do everything we can to achieve that,” mentioned Bayern sports activities director Hasan Salihamidzic.
“We are very optimistic that we will come out as winners.”
‘Best in Europe’
While Bayern want to win the cup for the 20th time, Leverkusen are chasing solely their second title since their lone triumph in 1993. They completed as runners-up in each 2002 and 2009.
Jamaica winger Leon Bailey scored twice when Leverkusen shocked Bayern with a 2-1 win on the Allianz Arena in November.
However, the Bavarian giants at the moment are on a 16-match profitable streak.
“We’re playing against the best team in Europe at the moment,” admitted Voeller, however “in a cup final, there’s always something possible.”
An ace up Leverkusen’s sleeve is attacking midfielder Kai Havertz, who has been linked with a transfer to Bayern.
The 21-year-old Germany worldwide was injured for each Leverkusen’s shock win in Munich and final month’s 4-2 residence league defeat in opposition to Bayern.
Voeller believes Havertz, who has scored 16 objectives this season, will play a significant function as a result of coping with stress is “one of his great qualities. He has a world-class career ahead of him.”
Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski is in search of his 50th purpose of the season. He is one shy of a half-century and final weekend was topped the Bundesliga’s high scorer for the fifth time in his profession after netting 34 occasions.
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