Eintracht Frankfurt v Borussia Dortmund
Saturday 27 May, 19:00
Live on BT Sport ESPN
Saturday 27 May, 19:00
Live on BT Sport ESPN
This time last season, Eintracht Frankfurt were fighting for survival in a Bundesliga playoff against second-tier side Nurnberg. Fast forward a year, and they are preparing for their first major cup final since 2006, having finished well clear of relegation trouble this term.
Having steered the Eagles through that playoff against Nurnberg, coach Niko Kovac set about galvanising not just the squad, but the entire club. Working with sporting director Bruno Hubner and former Germany striker Fredi Bobic, Kovac has injected new life into an organisation that was drifting. Youngsters like defender Jesus Vallejo and forward Ante Rebic have been brought in on loan to good effect, and astute pickups like holding midfielder Omar Mascarell and forward Branimir Hrgota have become effective cogs in the machine.
Although Frankfurt have twice competed well against Borussia Dortmund this season (they beat them in Frankfurt, and pushed them hard at Signal Iduna Park before losing 3-1), their form in the last few months has to be regarded as a huge concern. SGE won just one of their last 15 league games, and lost ten of those matches.
In one of the stupidest injury stories of the season, Guillermo Varela has gotten himself ruled out of one of the biggest games of his career by getting an infected tattoo. Despite medical instructions to the contrary, Varela pressed ahead with the inking, and he has been sent back to parent club Manchester United with Kovac's criticism ringing in his ears. After a season disrupted by injury, Frankfurt's cult hero Alex Meier looks set to play a role.
It's been a rollercoaster of a season for Borussia Dortmund with some great highs and awful lows, but if they can win their first major trophy since 2012, it will go down as a good campaign. After losing three key players in the summer, coach Thomas Tuchel was unable to find the same consistency of performance as he had in the previous term, and a title charge never materialised.
Dortmund's run to the Champions League quarter-finals was soured by the traumatic bomb attack on their team bus before the last-eight clash with Monaco. Thankfully no-one was seriously hurt, but we'll never know whether a fully focused BVB would've been a match for the Ligue 1 champions. What the attack did do was further strengthen the bond between the players and the fans, and there were emotional scenes at the end of the final match against Hoffenheim, as a tearful Marc Bartra (the only player injured in the attack) celebrated his return to the team in front of the Sudtribune.
Dortmund have now reached four DFB Cup finals in a row, but have lost the previous three. They were beaten twice by Bayern Munich, and once by Wolfsburg. This is the first time in that sequence that they have been strong favourites to lift the trophy, and they have momentum. Die Schwarzgelben have put together a six-match unbeaten run in all competitions, and they have won four of those games.
The match could act as a farewell for some key figures at the club. Having secured the torjaegerkanone top scorer's trophy, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has been coy about his future, and he continues to be linked with clubs across Europe and beyond. Tuchel has a year to run on his contract, and says he wants to stay on, but his fractious relationship with CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke means there could be an early parting of the ways. Nice boss Lucien Favre has been tipped to replace Tuchel if the former Mainz boss does leave this summer.
Kovac admits his team are underdogs, but says a one-off match could see his team prevail. However, I just can't ignore the Eagles' Bundesliga collapse, and Dortmund finished the season strongly. Although BVB have looked a bit tired in recent games, they have had a full week to prepare for this.
Dortmund are 1.48 favourites, and that feels about right over the 90 minutes.
Over/Under 2.5 Goals
Both league matches between the sides featured at least three goals, and Frankfurt have leaked nine goals in their last four games, so I can see why overs is trading at 1.59 here. However, I suspect that the Eagles will try to frustrate and contain Dortmund, especially in the early stages, when Tuchel's team tends to come alive. Kovac knows his team doesn't carry much of a goal threat (they only scored 36 goals in 34 league games), so I can't imagine he'll be taking many risks.
There is certainly an argument to back Under 2.5 Goals at a hefty 2.34, especially when you consider that two of the last three DFB Cup finals have been goalless after 90 minutes.
Given the fact he has scored 31 goals in the league this season, it's no surprise to see Aubameyang trading at 1.54 to find the net in 90 minutes. A more attractive option is to back Marco Reus at 2.06 - he has scored in six of his last eight games, and has 13 goals in 23 appearances overall.
On the Frankfurt side of things, Marco Fabian scored a stunning goal at Signal Iduna Park this season, and takes free-kicks and penalties. The Mexican is worth a look at 4.00.
Back Under 2.5 Goals at 2.34
Back Marco Reus to score at 2.06
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