DFB Cup expert Niko Kovac
Since Niko Kovac began his coaching career in Germany, he has had an almost magical connection with the DFB Cup. He had to wait for his coaching debut in the competition after taking the reins at Eintracht Frankfurt in March 2016 - the Hesse team had already been knocked out of the cup and were fighting for Bundesliga survival. Thanks to Kovac, Bundesliga status was secured and the following season the 47-year-old began his inimitable record in the competition.
In his first season in the cup he reached the final, losing 2-1 against Borussia Dortmund. The following year, Kovac made it to Berlin a second time with Eintracht and this time they celebrated a 3-1 victory in the final against Bayern. Just a year later, the man from Berlin is in the final once again, aiming to win the double for Munich on 25 May against RB Leipzig.
In company with Lattek, Rehhagel and Schmidt
The results are impressive: in 17 games, DFB Cup specialist Kovac has prevailed 16 times (13 wins and three on penalties) -- this has led to three final appearances in three years. Before Kovac, only Otto Rehhagel (1989 to 1991), Udo Lattek (1984 to 1986) and Hans Schmidt (1935 to 1938) had achieved this feat. Schmidt was the only one who managed it in his first three Cup appearances.
"I don't have a formula," answered Kovac as early as April when asked why he thought the DFB Cup was like that. "There's no easy way," continued the Bayern coach. "You need to be a bit lucky. You need a good draw," but most important is not to underestimate any opponent: "On the contrary, you have to show everyone the appreciation they deserve."
With these secrets for success, the newly crowned Bundesliga champion coach will approach the final on 25 May, and he'll add a few more records to his CV with a win against RB Leipzig:
- After winning the league and cup in 2003 as a Bayern player, he could be the first in club history to win the double as player and coach. In fact, this would also be the first time in German football history.
- He could be the first coach since Felix Magath to defend his DFB Cup title (Magath won in 2005 and 2006 respectively with Bayern). No coach has ever won the title twice in a row with two different clubs.
- He could become the fourth coach to win the DFB Cup with two different teams (after Otto Rehhagel, Hennes Weisweiler and Karl-Heinz Feldkamp).