While many would have wanted a final clash between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund for the DFB Pokal final, it was not to be so. Both the German giants found themselves pitted against each other in the semi-finals and unfortunately one had to exit. In this case, it happened to be Bundesliga winners and Bavarian giants.The stage is now set for a face-off between Borussia Dortmund and Eintracht Frankfurt at Olympiastadion Berlin on Saturday. On paper there is a gulf of qualitative difference between the two with Borussia Dortmund finishing 3rd on the Bundesliga charts and UEFA Champions quarter-finalists to boot while the Frankfurt club is a placed at a distant 11th. Eintracht have a rich Pokal history, though, with 4 titles under their belt. They haven’t won one since 1988 and came close to repeating the feat when they lost narrowly to Bayern Munich in the 2006 finals. Eintracht’s path to the 2016-17 finals was far from emphatic and saw them scrapping through three matches out of the five they played on penalties. Their opponents were clubs like the relegated 17th placed FC Ingolstadt, 2nd divisioners FC Magdeburg, Hannover 96 and Arminia Bielefeld.
Compare this to the formidable Dortmund who swept aside Bayern Munich 3-2 in the semi-finals and also beat the tough Bundesliga 6th placed club, Hertha BSC, in a Round of 16 clash. Critics felt that The Black and Yellows could have fared even better in the Bundesliga and the UEFA Champions league had it not been for the unsettling events surrounding the bombing of the team bus in which defender Marc Bartra was injured.
Eintracht, who had just 3 Bundesliga wins in 2017 will depend on the shock value their twin strikers Marco Fabian and Branimir Hrgota can possibly create in Berlin on Saturday. With seven and five goals respectively this season they are the club’s highest scorers. There was a clear effort to redeem themselves towards the end of season, which ended on a high note thanks to a surprise 2-2 draw against Bundesliga runners-up, RB Leipzig. For the Eintracht defence, the Dortmund forward trio of Pierre Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Ousmane Dembele could prove to be a handful at the Olympiastadion Berlin. The Gabonese striker Aubameyang has already notched up 39 goals for his club this season which is equal to what Eintracht as a team have scored. Manager Thomas Tuchel will opt for his usual 3-4-2-1 formation that has got him so much success in the recent past. Eintracht Frankfurt will probably go in with a 3-4-1-2 formation with Ante Rebic and Branimir Hrgota as strikers.
Both sides had won their home games in their 2016-17 Bundesliga fixtures, but going into Saturday’s DFB Pokal clash at Berlin few give the Frankfurt club any chance to get past Dortmund, who will be eyeing their 4th Cup and the first once since 2012.