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Goals, pace, emotions

FCB hail 23rd final after 'fierce battle'

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Goals, fast pace and emotions – the DFB Cup semi-final between Werder Bremen and FC Bayern had all the ingredients that make a thrilling cup tie. After 90 minutes of open, end-to-end football, it was the visitors from Munich who ran out narrow 3-2 winners and progressed to their 23rd cup final. “It was the hard-fought match we expected. It’s fun to play football in that kind of atmosphere, that’s how you dream of it,” said captain Thomas Müller, who spoke of a “fierce battle that demanded everything of us”.

Bayern head coach Niko Kovac was delighted to reach his third successive final in his home city, following what he called a “great game from both sides”. He’ll take his side to Berlin’s Olympiastadion on 25 May to face RB Leipzig. “I’m going back home again, so I’m very happy,” declared Kovac. “But before the final, we still have important matters in the Bundesliga to take care of. They have priority now.”

The 42,100 spectators at the sold-out Weser-Stadion witnessed an exciting game in which Robert Lewandowski (36’) and Müller (63’) put Bayern on course for victory. “After going 2-0 up, we felt the game was over,” revealed Leon Goretzka afterwards. However, the Green-Whites – who had not lost in 37 cup ties at home since April 1988 – had other ideas as they fought back to 2-2 thanks to two goals in the space of 66 seconds from Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica.

Thomas Müller after the DFB Cup semi-final in Bremen
“The course of the match obviously produced a heart-stopping finale”

“A quick-fire double to equalise always impresses because suddenly it’s level again. The match was then completely open again,” commented Müller. “We made life difficult for ourselves by conceding two goals in 60, 70 seconds,” admitted Kovac. “I knew if Bremen scored a goal here, then anything was possible. We were too passive with the goals we conceded,” criticised the 47-year-old, although he also praised “the quality of my team to then come back and, on the basis of the number of chances, deservedly go through.”

Lewandowski scored the winning goal from the penalty spot in the 80th minute. “It could have turned out differently if we hadn’t got the penalty," summarised Kovac, who admitted it was a “harsh decision” after Kingsley Coman tumbled in the box under a challenge from Bremen’s Theodor Gebre Selassie: “If he [the referee] hadn’t blown his whistle, we couldn’t have had any complaints.” As it was, Lewandowski sealed FCB’s 30th consecutive away win in the competition.

“The course of the match obviously produced a heart-stopping finale,” said Müller. Both sides “put a lot in” as they traded blows, with good chances at both ends. “All in all we had considerably more good chances, but a game like this is often decided in the blink of an eye,” added Müller, who became the first player ever to reach 10 DFB Cup semi-final appearances.

Bayern’s opponents in Berlin will be RB Leipzig, who have the reached the final for the first time. And, as was the case with Bremen, the two sides will meet in the league shortly beforehand. “RB are in good form, they’ve had a great second half of the season thus far,” continued Müller. “I think the final as well as the Bundesliga game will have everything that the fans want to see. Let’s see what happens. We’re determined to see it through – our desire to win these two trophies is enormous.”

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