Saturday ends the German season, when the champions of the Bundesliga Bayern Munchen and Bayer Leverkusen, who finished fifth, is in the German Cup final at the Berlin Olympiastadion (14:00 ET; ESPN2 / ESPN Deportes) Gab Marcotti breaks the game.
The shape and vibration of the pre-game …
For the second year in a row – and 13th in the Bundesliga era – Bayern Munich wants to double the League and the Cup (and perhaps make it a Treble in August when the Champions League returns). Newly crowned champions of Germany (with the second highest number of goals in total history), he won 16 straight games in all competitions and 24 of the last 25 until 2019. It was the eighth consecutive title in Germany and the 30th in total. They also hold the German cup record, with 19.
If Bayern is a blue blood from Bavaria, then Bayer Leverkusen, which is named after the pharmaceutical company that brought us aspirin, is a long way off. They were never German champions, although they finished runner-up five times and won the German Cup in 1993. This season, they lost the Champions League qualification in the penultimate week of the season, when they lost to the German Cup. Hertha Berlin. That said, they are one of only four German teams to have Bayern defeated in 2019-20.
Former Germany coach Hansi Flick took over as acting head in November after Bayern fired Niko Kovac. (It doesn't matter if Kovac won the league and cup last year and they were just three points off first place when he left – Bayern set the bar high). Flick quickly lost the provisional label when the team started shooting at all cylinders.
Despite losing some key men (Niklas Sule, Lucas Hernandez) through injury for much of the season, Bayern cried. Flick is popular as a coach for players, but he also plays attractive football and is not afraid to make big decisions, like Barcelona and Liverpool Star Philippe Coutinho.
Peter Bosz is a bit acquired, taking over Leverkusen in the middle of the 2018-19 season and raising the club from 10th to 5th place. The Dutch's high-octane style based on possession, attack in number and speed is seductive, but he failed in his last job, in Borussia Dortmund. He's a party or hunger guy, and playing for your team is not for the faint of heart.
Fortunately for him, he can count on Edmond Tapsoba, one of the revelations of the second half of the Bundesliga season, as well as the unfazed twins of Bender, Lars and Sven, both former German internationals. So there is Kai Havertz, but more of him later …
Key to head battle
Bayern & # 39; s Robert Lewandowski, who turns 32 next month and has scored 34 career goals (just 31 league games) this season, is undoubtedly the best in the industry in the midfield. The Polish striker is mobile, athletic and cruel in the area; your battle with Tapsoba will be the only one to watch.
The next big thing
Havertz has had excited scouts since he debuted at Leverkusen at the age of 17, four years ago. Tall and elegant, but with the touch and control of a much smaller player, the skills of this man-child are unique. It is difficult to say what his best position is and he played in front and midfield this season.
Ironically – and disappointing for some – he has been associated with a move to Bayern, like so many talented German players over the years. The Cup final could be his last game for Leverkusen.
Two others to watch
Thomas Muller, 30, has been with Bayern since the age of 11 and is the team's emotional leader. In addition to his silverware with the Bavarians, he won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, but his career was paused after the 2018 tournament. This season, he returned with one of his best campaigns, hitting double digits for goals and making 21 assists.
Not the most aesthetically pleasing player to watch – he can seem clumsy and clumsy – Muller is athletic and super smart on the pitch, as evidenced by his nickname "Raumdeuter" ("Space Investigator" in German) by the way he always seems to be in right place at the right time.
Leon Bailey had a season of ups and downs at Leverkusen, but scored twice in a victory at Bayern in November. The Jamaican is one of the fastest players in the Bundesliga, and his potential battle with another candidate in that area – Bayern's left back Alphonso Davies – it would be a clash of CONCACAF stars. Bailey represents a continuous threat at halftime and can keep any opponent stranded.
Bayern will win if …
… they don't ruin everything. They have the experience and athletics to deal with Leverkusen’s attackers, and Bosz’s penchant for leaving his own defense exposed is an invitation to devastation by Lewandowski, Muller, Serge Gnabry and the rest of the men at the front of Bayern. Midfielder Thiago Alcantara, from the midfield, is racing to fit in the time, and he would undoubtedly help, but the reality is that they are probably fine without him.
Bayer Leverkusen will win if …
… score first – maybe Havertz's genius creates something out of nothing – and then they manage to hit Bayern again on the counterattack. (Reality is a goal that will probably not be enough, since your opponents have failed to score only once in a game in the last 12 months). Leverkusen also needs to limit damage to the other end; this will only happen if Tapsoba and the Benders have the game of their lives and the goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky gets in your head.