A new dawn in Germany or will the cup specialists prevail? | OneFootball

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Lewis Ambrose·3 June 2023

A new dawn in Germany or will the cup specialists prevail?

Article image:A new dawn in Germany or will the cup specialists prevail?

With everyone so busy watching Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich scrap for the Bundesliga title race in recent weeks, it was somewhat missed that RB Leipzig ended up just five points shy of the title themselves.

One month cost them a shot at a lot more than just the DFB-Pokal this season.

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March began with a 2-1 defeat in Dortmund. After the international break there was the 7-0 loss to Manchester City in the Champions League (having drawn the first leg), then defeat in Bochum before losing 3-0 at home to Mainz on 1 April.

How different things could have been.

Since then, and kicking off with the dominant performance and 2-0 defeat of Dortmund in the Pokal quarter-finals, Marco Rose’s side have won nine of 10 games in all competitions, scoring 24 goals along the way. If something had not already clicked under Rose, it certainly has by now.

Quietly, with Bayern Munich faltering and Borussia Dortmund still inconsistent on the road and defensively unstable, Leipzig might have a real shout at now being the best team in Germany. They won more Bundesliga points than Bayern in 2023 and more than anyone since Marco Rose took over back in September.

And now, this weekend, they could win a second consecutive DFB-Pokal. People have started to look away from Leipzig’s unpopular rise, or at least they’re no longer surprised by it, and it feels like they could now be better than ever but also more under the radar than ever.

A key part of that is Christopher Nkunku, who followed up his 35-goal 2021/22 to end top scorer in the Bundesliga with 16 strikes in 2022/23, despite missing a huge chunk of the season (and the World Cup) through injury.

This weekend is likely to be his last game for the club — a move to Chelsea has reportedly been agreed for months — but he won’t be the only man signing off in Berlin, and perhaps not even the only Frenchman.

Japanese midfielder and consistent goal threat Daichi Kamada is one confirmed departure from Leipzig’s opponents, with the final also marking head coach Oliver Glasner’s last game after two seasons in charge.

The parting of ways for Glasner and Eintracht Frankfurt was announced early in May with the club on a 10-game winless run in the Bundesliga. A previously positive season, with Frankfurt looking at qualifying for Europe yet again, fell by the wayside during that spell and a change was deemed necessary.

But Glasner would like to sign off with a trophy and made the point during that 10-game run that the club excels when it comes to knockout competitions.

Germany’s cup specialists, Eintracht won the Pokal in 2018 (in Niko Kovač’s final game in charge), went on a deep run in the 2019 Europa League and the Pokal in 2020 under Adi Hütter, and then won the Europa League under Glasner last year, seeing off Barcelona on their way to glory in Seville.

It doesn’t matter who is in the dugout, it seems, Frankfurt will always find a way in the cups.

And now they’re back in Berlin again with Glasner, and potentially star striker (and Nkunku’s international team-mate) Randal Kolo Muani, ready to say goodbye.

Can they spoil another party or this really the dawning of an era of strength for RB Leipzig?