Bayern celebrate 'happy end' in Berlin
"FC Bayern will surely celebrate a lot today," Niko Kovac announced at Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Saturday night, and he was proved right. His team had just beat RB Leipzig 3-0 in the DFB Cup final, winning the title for the 19th time. "Of course you feel joy, you're looking forward to enjoyable hours with friends, acquaintances and relatives," Kovac said before the party in the German capital.
"We've had a great week," chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in his address to about 950 guests at Deutsche Telekom's Berlin headquarters. "We won the German championship last Saturday, and then the double on top. We've rounded off a season with which we can be very satisfied. I'd like to warmly congratulate the team and everybody who has contributed to it," added Rummenigge.
Hard work in the 76th DFB Cup final
But before the double party the Bavarians had to work hard in the 76th DFB Cup final. Leipzig, who were finalists for the first time in the club's history, proved tough opponents and on a par with Bayern for long spells. "We saw a great match today," commented Rummenigge: "Leipzig also turned in a great performance. We must have great respect for their display in the first 20 minutes."
RB got off to a better start in an intense contest (Kovac: "A war of attrition") and could have taken the lead. Captain Manuel Neuer, who was fit in time for the final after six weeks on the sidelines, thwarted their best chance. Striker Robert Lewandowski put Bayern ahead at the other end, and the goal boosted their solidity and confidence.
Leipzig went looking for an equaliser after the restart, but Neuer was not to be overcome, shining with more saves. "We had Manuel Neuer in goal, a giant," Rummenigge said in praise of the four-time World's Best Goalkeeper. Kingsley Coman and again Lewandowski rounded off Bayern's 12th double triumph. "Our team did a great job, scoring three world-class goals," said former world-class striker Rummenigge.
"We gave it everything today! Congratulations to the lads. It wasn't any old victory for us, it was very emotional," Thomas Müller summarised: "We've won quite a few things, but this was something special, not only because three great players are leaving us, but also because of the difficult phase during the season. To bounce back like this is stunning, it takes enormous willpower!"
The best farewell gift for Ribéry, Robben and Rafinha
"We had just one aim today, the cup triumph," said Lewandowski, who was named Man of the Match after bagging a brace. The triumph was also "a farewell gift for Franck, Arjen and Rafinha," who made their last competitive appearance or were included in the squad for Bayern. "A final like this is always nice, the atmosphere is special. What we've achieved together will remain for a lifetime, I'll never forget it. It's been a great 12 years," said Franck Ribéry.
Everybody heeded Kovac' words at the cup party, celebrating their perfect finish to the season into the early hours. "The team have achieved great things," a satisfied Kovac said in drawing a conclusion, glad about a "happy end" to his first season as Bayern coach. "It's been an exhausting season. We'll surely need two or three weeks now to unwind, to relax and to reflect on it."