EUROPEAN football fanatic Mark O'Haire (@MarkOHaire) previews Saturday night's DFB Pokal final from Berlin as Bayern Munich take on RB Leipzig.
Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig | Saturday 25th May 2019, 19:00 | YouTube
Bayern Munich are hot favourites to complete their 11th domestic double on Saturday night, and lift their first DFB Pokal crown since 2016, when they lock horns with RB Leipzig at the Olympiastadion in Berlin.
The Bavarians completed their Bundesliga campaign with a thrilling second-half display against Eintracht Frankfurt to secure a 5-1 success that ensured league honours for the seventh straight season and now FC Hollywood have set their sights on the cup. It’s a competition that hasn’t always delivered the goods for Bayern in recent years.
This is the Munich men’s sixth final appearance in nine seasons, although Bayern have only lifted the trophy on four occasions in that sample. Indeed, current boss Niko Kovac enjoyed top honours against Bayern at this stage last season, upsetting the odds with Eintracht Frankfurt and I can’t help but feel the all-conquering Bavarians are a little too short here.
Of course, Bayern returned W18-D3-L1 in their final 22 league fixtures to overturn that significant deficit against Dortmund in the battle at the top of the Bundesliga. However, their two tussles with Saturday night’s opponents have been tightly-contested affairs and a repeat looks the most likely scenario when they meet once more in the capital.
Leipzig looking to make history
Like Bayern, RB Leipzig made a relatively inauspicious start to 2018/19 and were out of the title running early on. Die Rotten Bullen finally found their form in the New Year and Ralf Rangnick guided the group to an excellent W10-D5-L2 in their final 17, a run of results that would have looked even more impressive but for a tailing off in the final fortnight.
Leipzig’s late form is reasonably insignificant; Rangnick opted to rest and rotate his troops with Champions League football secured and a first-ever place in the DFB Pokal final on the agenda. For example, last weekend’s loss at Werder Bremen saw RB make 10 changes to the team in preparation for their Berlin battle.
Sure, Die Rotten Bullen only managed W6-D3-L5 against the Bundesliga’s top half, including W0-D1-L3 against Dortmund and Bayern this season, although all bar one of those losses against the division’s leading lights came via a one-goal margin. And arguably more importantly, their two contests with Bayern featured a grand total of one goal.
Only two of the last six DFB Pokal finals have seen more than one goal separate the sides and I’m happy to support Leipzig keeping this encounter close. With the +1.25 Asian Handicap trading at 3/4 with Matchbook, we’ll enjoy a half-stakes profit should RB lose by exactly one goal, and pocket a full-stakes pay-out should the Saxony side avoid defeat.
Bayern Munich v RB Leipzig – RB Leipzig +1.25 Asian Handicap (3/4 Matchbook)