Bayern target another cup final, fairy-tale Saabruecken want history

By Holger Schmidt, dpa

Giants Bayern Munich and minnows Saarbruecken occupy different footballing worlds but they share the same goal going into the German Cup semi-finals this midweek.

Record German Cup winners Bayern Munich are hoping to reach yet another final when they face Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday but lower league Saarbruecken also hope to write themselves further into the history books.

They have already become the first fourth-tier side to reach the cup semi-finals and want to continue their fairy-tale run when they play Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.

“We have written club and football history as the first fourth division side in the semi-finals,” Saarbruecken coach Lukas Kwasniok told dpa. “Now we want to write sports history.”

Against star-studded Leverkusen, however, Kwasniok is realistic about their chances. “We’re staying humble but confident,” he said. “From 100 games against Leverkusen we’ll lose 99. But we want to make June 9 a holiday in (Saarbruecken’s state) Saarland.”

Saarbruecken have not played in three months as their regional league was abandoned due to the coronavirus pandemic. This guaranteed their promotion to the third division as champions but means they lack match practice.

The semi-finals, like Bundesliga games, are being played behind closed doors and following a strict hygiene concept. Saarbruecken will host Leverkusen in Voeklingen as their own stadium is being renovated.

Saarbruecken reached the last four after a marathon penalty kick win over Fortuna Dusseldorf in the quarter-finals but Leverkusen are their toughest test yet.

Peter Bosz’s side were humbled 4-2 by Bayern at the weekend but remain in contention for a Champions League place.

And they are still without mega-talent Kai Havertz back after a muscle problem kept him out against title-holders.

“The game is too early for him,” said Bosz. “He could have played. But that would have been connected to a certain risk. And we don’t want to take it.”

Leverkusen have a reputation of falling short at the final hurdle in the bid for titles. One of their only major honours is the German Cup from 1993 but it has been 11 years since their last final, lost 1-0 to Werder Bremen in 2009.

Bayern in contrast practically have Berlin as a second base having reached six of the last eight finals, winning four for a total of 19, and will expect another visit to the capital for the July 4 showpiece.

But one of their recent final losses did come against Eintracht when the Frankfurters stunned them 3-1 in 2018.

“Frankfurt have written great cup history with us in the last few years,” said Thomas Mueller when the draw was made. “But we definitely want to make sure of the trip to Berlin.”

Bayern are on the brink of another Bundesliga title, which could be sealed on Saturday, and are still in the currently suspended Champions League meaning a repeat of the 2013 treble remains possible.

Eintracht have endured a disappointing league season although have at least stabilized enough not to be in serious danger of relegation. They also lost 5-2 in Munich a few weeks ago, but did thrash Bayern 5-1 at home in November – which led to Hansi Flick replacing the dismissed Niko Kovac as coach.

“We need an absolutely perfect day when everything works,” said midfielder Sebastian Rode. “Everyone must fight for the others so we can reach our goal.

“We have shown this season that we can beat every opponent but on bad days can also lose to anyone.”

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