Created on 26-02-2008 at 00:00 AM
Bayern entertained Hamburger SV on Sunday, but an observer watching through half-closed eyes might have thought the Munich derby had been brought forward by a few days, as the Allianz Arena faithful spent the 90 minutes bellowing out chants directed at bitter local rivals TSV 1860. “They were warming up for Wednesday,” Oliver Kahn theorised, “the fans wanted to emphasise how much this derby means to them.“
The match means a great deal to Kahn too, as Wednesday’s DFB German Cup quarter-final represents the final derby of his playing career. The 38-year-old is making little attempt to hide his sense of anticipation ahead of the big day. “They were always highlights characterised by extreme emotions,” he commented on Monday. “I really hoped we’d get 1860 in the draw, just to have another one of those unforgettable matches.“
Kahn not without sin
Taking only competitive fixtures into account, the midweek meeting will be Kahn’s 20th showdown with the Lions from across town. His first derby came some 14 years ago on 21 September 1994, a 3-1 win for the red half of the city which saw the Blues’ Manni Schwabl and Bernhard Winkler sent off.
The pair are not the only men to have been dismissed in derbies featuring Kahn. His 19 clashes with the Lions to date have produced eleven red cards, five for the Reds and six for the Blues. One of the men sent from the field was the Bayern keeper himself. In his third derby on 2 March 1996, he and the Lions Olaf Bodden received their marching orders “after a tussle,” he still recalls today.
“I’ve played in so many derbies with so many highlights, both positive and negative, so many fiercely motional matches,” Kahn reminisced, thinking perhaps of Carsten Jancker’s freak goal on 11 April 1998, when 1860 keeper Bernd Meier completely overlooked the presence of the giant striker behind him, allowing the Bayern man to nick the ball off the shot-stopper’s toe and poke home into an empty net.
Neither has Kahn forgotten the 1-1 draw on 1 November 1996 featuring a missed penalty by Lothar Matthäus, or the meeting on 15 April 2000 when former Blue Jens Jeremies put through his own goal to hand the Lions a 2-1 victory. That was the most recent of only two derby defeats for Kahn, who has ended up on the winning side 13 times, with four draws.
All in the head
Bayern have failed to beat TSV 1860 in their last four meetings (three defeats and a draw), but Kahn dismissed the stat as a quirk. “They were all friendlies of some sort, which are always nice, but of no interest at the end of the day,” the 38-year-old argued. However, Wednesday’s meeting is a red-blooded competitive fixture, much to the keeper’s delight. “We’re highly motivated,” he declared. “We’re disappointed at failing to beat Hamburg, so it’s important we send out a signal on Wednesday.“
Bayern will be runaway favourites to make the semi-finals, but Kahn is expecting a tough battle against the second division side. “We know it’s the biggest match of the season for 1860. They have nothing to lose and they’ll be up for it.“ Mental strength will be decisive in the 204th meeting between the Munich rivals, Kahn believes. “Derbies have their own rules. There’s no point thinking too hard about tactics. It’s all a question of mentality and attitude.“
10-9 on penalties
The former Germany keeper has never been found wanting on those particular attributes. Kahn said he is looking forward to “a fantastic match,” ideally ending in a 10-9 Bayern triumph on penalties. However, a comfortable victory in normal time would be “easier on the nerves,“ the club captain conceded. Nineteen derbies in the past have clearly left their mark, even on Kahn’s formidable presence.