The Olympiastadion in Berlin will play host to the DFB-Pokal final on Saturday evening as Freiburg and RB Leipzig lock horns for a chance to clinch domestic silverware.
Freiburg will be competing in their first ever German Cup final in their 118-year history, while Leipzig are taking part in the showpiece event for the third time in the last four years.
A memorable 2021-22 campaign for Freiburg has seen Christian Streich’s side qualify for the Europa League after securing sixth place in the Bundesliga, the club’s highest top-flight finish for nine years.
Die Breisgau-Brasilianer were in the hunt for Champions League football heading into their final two league games, but defeats against Union Berlin and Bayer Leverkusen, losing to the latter 2-1 away from home last weekend, quashed their top-four hopes. Nevertheless, Freiburg could end the season on a real high as they bid to win their first ever domestic cup on Saturday.
Freiburg will not be phased by making the trip to Berlin, as they have played all of their previous five matches in this season’s DFB-Pokal away from home.
Victories against third-tier outfits Wurzburger Kickers and Osnabruck in the first two rounds were followed by a comfortable 4-1 win over Hoffenheim in the middle of January. Freiburg then edged past Bochum 2-1 after extra time – with Roland Sallai netting a dramatic 120th-minute winner on that occasion – before claiming a 3-1 victory against Hamburg in the semi-finals.
Freiburg’s hopes of success on Saturday could prove challenging, however, as they have failed to win any of their last five meetings against Leipzig, although their last two encounters in the league this season both ended as 1-1 draws.
After a rocky start to their Bundesliga campaign under Jesse Marsch, RB Leipzig have since turned their fortunes around under current boss Domenico Tedesco, who has successfully guided the club to their fourth successive top-four finish, ending the campaign just one point clear of Union Berlin in fifth and three points clear of Freiburg in sixth.
Die Roten Bullen were unable to set up an all-German Europa League final with eventual winners Eintracht Frankfurt, after losing to Rangers over two legs in the semi-finals, but they are still in with a chance of ending the campaign with silverware as they prepare for yet another DFB-Pokal final.
Leipzig have reached the final twice in the last three years but lost on both occasions, suffering a 3-0 defeat against Bayern Munich in 2019 before losing 4-1 to Borussia Dortmund last season; only MSV Duisburg (four) and Alemannia Aachen (three) have participated in more German Cup finals without lifting the trophy.
Die Roten Bullen have comfortably progressed through each round to reach this year’s final, with their first four victories against lower-league quartet Sandhausen, Babelsberg, Hansa Rostock and Hannover 96, before beating top-four rivals Union Berlin 2-1 on home soil in the semi-finals.
An Andre Silva penalty and a 92nd-minute winner from Emil Forsberg helped Tedesco’s men turn the game on its head in dramatic fashion to beat the Iron Ones and book their place in the final.
Leipzig head into Saturday’s final after winning only two of their last six matches across all competitions, but considering that they have won three and drawn three of their last seven meetings against Freiburg, scoring on each occasion, they will be confident of success in Berlin.
Freiburg DFB-Pokal form:
Freiburg form (all competitions):
RB Leipzig DFB-Pokal form:
RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
We say: Freiburg 2-2 RB Leipzig (RB Leipzig to win 3-2 after extra time)
The German capital is set to host an intriguing final between two sides who are desperate to get their hands on their first major piece of silverware.
While goals are to be expected considering the quality that both teams possess in the final third, a closely-fought contest could be on the cards, one which could even go beyond the 90 minutes.
Leipzig will head into the final as slight favourites, and after two previous attempts at glory which ended in disappointment, we can see them lifting the trophy at the third time of asking this weekend.