Germany’s domestic season officially comes to an end tomorrow as Borussia Dortmund square off against VfL Wolfsburg in the DFB Pokal final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin. In addition to the prestige that comes along with winning any silverware, for both sides there is a little extra motivation to lift the trophy.
For Dortmund a victory on Saturday will not only salvage what has to be called a rather disappointing season but it would also provide a fitting send-off for manager Jürgen Klopp who earlier this month confirmed his departure from the club at season’s end.
For Wolfsburg winning the Pokal will be viewed as the cherry on the sundae that was their incredibly successful campaign, but Die Wölfe will also want to win for a man who, sadly, won’t be with them next season as well. The club will have special commemorative patches on their shirts to honour the tragic death of Junior Malanda which occurred over the winter break.
In both camps emotions will definitely be running high.
This will be Dortmund’s seventh Pokal final, having won three (the last in 2011-12) and lost three while this match will represent only the second time that Wolfsburg has been this far in the tournament. Their only other Pokal final appearance occurred twenty years ago in the 1994-95 season where they were still playing in Germany’s second tier. They finished fourth in the 2-Bundesliga that year, missing out on promotion (a feat which they would accomplish a season later) only on total goals for and against. Interestingly enough, that season marked the first ever Bundesliga title for Dortmund and was the first time Die Borussen were champions of Germany in thirty years!
Wolfsburg will be looking to write a different story than they did on that day in 1995 as they were soundly defeated 3-0 by Borussia Mönchengladbach.
Rewind: All roads lead to Berlin
Die Fohlen started off their tournament with a comfortable 4-1 win over Greifswalder SC of the NOFV-Oberliga Nord which they followed up with a 1-0 victory away to Kickers Offenbach. They then defeated 2-Bundesliga side Mainz in a 6-4 goal fest at home, a match which not only featured the aforementioned Klopp, but he was also on the scoresheet in a losing cause for the visitors. The next two matches were also held in the friendly confines of the Bökelbergstadion, and both against Bundesliga opposition as well. ‘Gladbach defeated Schalke 3-2 in the quarterfinals before squaring off against Kaiserslautern in the penultimate match. After going scoreless during regular time striker, and current Bayern München U-17 coach, Heiko Herrlich scored the lone goal in extra time to send Mönchengladbach to the finals.
Wolfsburg’s path to Berlin was an interesting one in that they were the visiting side in all five matches starting off with a 2-0 win against the Schalke Amateure side. The second round saw no goals through 180 minutes in their clash with Eintracht Frankfurt but Wolfsburg emerged victorious on penalties. Penalties were on the cards again in their round of sixteen match against upstart Bavarian Regionalliga side TSV Vestenbergsreuth who, in perhaps the biggest upset in Pokal history, knocked off FC Bayern in the first round – Giovanni Trappatoni’s first competitive match as manager of Bayern no less. Wolfsburg then went on to dispatch another Amateure squad, this one beloning to the aforementioned Bayern. Fans of the United States National Football team will be pleased to know that former International Brian McBride was on the scoresheet in that match as well. The semi final versus FC Köln was settled by a single goal scored by Siegfried Reich, a rather prolific goal scorer who in his senior career, spanning 18 years, amassed 214 league goals in 434 matches – most of which were for Wolfsburg.
Over 50,000 fans packed into the Olympiastadion on the 24th of June to watch the match – how many of those fans belonged to Wolfsburg no one knows but we’ll just go out on a limb and say the crowd was vehemently cheering for Mönchengladbach.
The scoring was opened in the 13th minute. Right wing back Thomas Kastenmaier lobbed a wonderful diagonal ball from just inside the Wolfsburg half which found Swedish striker Martin Dahlin. Dahlin controlled the ball on his chest before volleying past Uwe Zimmermann in the Wolfsburg goal. First blood to Die Fohlen.
Mönchengladbach would double their lead just after the hour mark. Dahlin dispossessed a Wolfsburg player at the halfway line and played a lovely give and go with Heiko Herrlich who barged into the Wolfsburg penalty area. With an onrushing Zimmermann and a defender draped all over him, Herrlich cut to the left side and threaded a square ball for the oncoming Stefan Effenberg who placed his shot perfectly between the goalkeeper and the defender on the line. 2-0 ‘Gladbach.
With Wolfsburg pressing late to try to get back into the match, Herrlich went from provider to scorer and stopped any chance of late match drama scoring ‘Gladbach’s third goal in the 86th minute. Just beating the offside trap Herrlich latched onto a through ball and stormed forward. Once again Zimmermann in the Wolfsburg goal charged out, but was ineffective at gathering the ball. Herrlich collected the loose ball and opted to shoot into the empty net and not set Effenberg up for his second of the night. Surely he couldn’t be blamed for that. 3-0 and Die Fohlen were Pokal champions!
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