The semifinals of this season’s German Cup (DFB Pokal) took place earlier this week. Both matches were intensely contested and provided varying degrees of excitement.
Ultimately SC Freiburg and RB Leipzig prevailed, to face each other in the Berlin final on May 21.
Neither team has ever lifted any major piece of silverware before.
On Tuesday night, Freiburg overcame the famous second tier side Hamburger SV 3-1.
They did so with a combination of ruthless efficiency in front of goal, as well as a bit of luck. Hamburg played courageously, though at times they were naïve. They looked to attack from the start in their sold-out home stadium.
But it was the visitors who struck first, through a Nils Petersen header in the 11th minute. The home side seemed to have cleared a corner kick but, the ball freakishly reached the Freiburg record goal scorer.
Six minutes later, Nicolas Höfler’s deflected shot doubled Freiburg’s lead. They scored twice from two half-chances!
Hamburger SV still didn’t look out of it. But just as they seemingly recovered from the shock of conceding two unnecessary goals, Moritz Heyer hit the slipping Nico Schlotterbeck’s head in an attempt to clear the ball, inside his own penalty area.
After a VAR check, the referee pointed to the spot and Vincenzo Grifo coolly converted for his team’s third of the night.
In the second half, the home side continued to push forward, trying to find an unlikely way back into the match. But they lacked precision in their attacks. The only exception was toward the very end of the game, when Robert Glatzel headed in the consolation goal.
Overall, though the worst thing for Hamburg may be knowing that on another day, they could have had a lot more than that.
RB Leipzig Make Final
On Wednesday, RB Leipzig reached the third German Cup final in its history (and the third in four seasons), by beating Union Berlin 2-1. But it was the team from the capital that had the better start.
As always, Urs Fischer’s side was well-organized, difficult to break down and went forward from that basis. A typical cross from Christopher Trimmel found Sheraldo Becker inside the box, 1-0 after 25 minutes.
Leipzig on the other hand, struggled to create many clear-cut chances. So, the teams went to the break with the Berlin visitors up by a goal.Union was by no means parking the bus.
Early in the second half, they continued to create decent opportunities. Yet by now, Leipzig was the more dominant side. However, it still required a penalty kick for them to equalize.
Paul Jaeckel tripped Christopher Nkunku in the box and André Silva converted from the spot, 1-1 just after the hour mark.Then stoppage time, a Benjamin Henrichs cross found substitute Emil Forsberg’s head for the winning goal.
Forsberg had also scored the winner in last season’s cup semifinal. After having lost their first two appearances the Berlin final, Leipzig will hope third time is a charm.
Meanwhile Freiburg will make its first ever appearance in a major final. Leipzig will surely be the favorites to win, but their opponents from the Black Forest always cherish the role of the underdog.
Main Image Credits Bundesliga PR