All roads lead to Berlin tonight as Borussia Dortmund take on RB Leipzig in the final of the DFB-Pokal at the Olympiastadion.
For Dortmund, it’s a tenth Pokal final, whilst for Leipzig it’s only the second time they’ve reached the final, having lost to Bayern Munich two years ago in the showpiece.
And Edin Terzic’s side perhaps have the edge going into the final, having beaten Leipzig in the Bundesliga just five days ago. On that occasion, BVB ran out 3-2 winners at Signal Iduna Park with Jadon Sancho scored a brace, including a late winner against the side from Saxony.
Julian Nagelsmann could welcome back Christopher Nkunku to the side on the back of that defeat on Saturday. Angelino however will miss the final after he limped off with injury in the second half. He joins Tyler Adams and youngster Dominik Szoboszlai on the injury list.
Dortmund will keep their fingers crossed that Erling Haaland can return to the starting line-up after watching Saturday’s match from the stands. The Norwegian trained on Tuesday and took part in Wednesday’s session ahead of the main event. Goalkeeper Marwin Hitz came off at half-time in the win on Saturday and looks set to miss out, joining long-term absentees Mateu Morey, Youssoufa Moukoko, Axel Witsel and Dan-Axel Zagadou.
Road to the Final
Die Rotenbullen are not proven cup specialists. They have only 17 wins to their name from nine campaigns in the DFB-Pokal. By contrast, they already have 20 wins in European competition (from 42 games in total).
They didn't concede a single goal until the semi-final this term. Leipzig beat 1. FC Nuremberg and FC Augsburg 3-0 in the first and second rounds respectively, before running out 4-0 victors against VfL Bochum in the last 16 and winning 2-0 against VfL Wolfsburg in the quarter-finals. Werder Bremen forced them into extra-time in the semi-finals, but Leipzig won 2-1 following a goal in stoppage time in extra-time from Emil Forsberg.
Dortmund are the top scorers in this season’s competition, and started the road to Berlin with a 5-0 win over MSV Duisburg before a narrow 2-0 win against Eintracht Braunschweig away from home.
Edin Terzic’s side then needed extra-time to avoid an upset against 2. Bundesliga side SC Paderborn, with the visitors making it 2-2 with a stoppage time penalty only for Haaland to strike in extra-time. A 1-0 win over Monchengladbach followed in the last eight, before a semi-final date with Holstein Kiel.
And a blistering first half performance saw the Black & Yellows run out 5-0 winners, with the score 4-0 in the space of 16 first half minutes. However, the victory was heavily overshadowed by a serious knee injury to Morey.
Leipzig: (3-4-2-1) Gulacsi; Klostermann, Upamecano, Orban; Mukiele, Kampl, Sabitzer, Halstenberg; Dani Olmo, Haidara; Poulson.
Dortmund: (4-2-3-1) Burki; Piszczek, Akanji, Hummels, Guerreiro; Can, Dahoud; Hazard, Reus, Sancho; Haaland.
Ones to watch
Die Rotenbullen skipper Marcel Sabitzer is hoping to play his part as Leipzig seek their first DFB-Pokal crown. With seven goals from midfield this term, the Austrian is looking forward to the game.
"I'm really excited for this game. The final two years ago was really enjoyable, apart from the result," he said.
"You learn from losing in a final and mature, although it won't really help us for tomorrow's match. Everything is set. The fans are missing, but we will be well prepared and know what we're coming up against.
"Dortmund have a lot of quality in their ranks, but we'll give our absolute all! Lifting the trophy would be really special for every single player, the team, the city, the fans and the club."
Having been frustrated with injury in the 2019/20 campaign, Marco Reus has proved he is far from finished after an excellent season for Dortmund. Chipping in with six goals this term, the BVB captain has scored three in his last four games as Edin Terzic’s side made a welcome return to form.
"It would be great if we could bring the cup back to Dortmund for the fans," said Reus. The 31-year-old, who is gearing up for his sixth major final with BVB, added: "I'm really looking forward to it, even though unfortunately there will be no fans there. It will be a very interesting game. We are ready." He added: "We perform when we have to."
What the bosses have said
Julian Nagelsmann: "Obviously the game is a real highlight and it will be an emotional farewell for me. Saying that, we still have two games left in the Bundesliga, which we have high hopes for.
"We want to be fair towards other clubs, so we will give our all in those final league games too. Despite that, tomorrow's game means an awful lot. I would be really happy if I could say goodbye to Leipzig with the Pokal and two more Bundesliga wins.
We will try to get the most out of tomorrow's game, so that means winning the cup. This isn't important for my personal career - it's about getting the title for the club and the players to celebrate together."
Edin Terzic: "We have a great chance to win the cup for the fifth time. The journey we have been on together in the past few months has given us this opportunity. The total package has to be right. And we have to be careful because Leipzig are very variable up front.
“It's a battle of the two teams who have won the most games in the cup this year. We want to win one more game. We have a really strong desire to hold the cup in our hands tomorrow.
"We have promised ourselves that we will finish the journey together and want to knuckle down resolutely. We're going to give it our all to make it possible."