It has been a long season, but we have reached the end. A final game remains to be played tomorrow evening, the DFB-Pokal final. Bayern Munich face Eintracht Frankfurt, and Jupp Heynckes will coach his final game against the man who will succeed him at Bayern Munich itself, Niko Kovac. If Bayern play to their potential, the players will give their now legendary coach a domestic double as a parting gift as he rides off into the sunset for the final time.
Bayern Munich: A deck of wildcards
The biggest news, not only for Bayern Munich but also for all Germany, is that captain Manuel Neuer will be in the squad when Bayern square off against Eintracht. Sven Ulreich, however, will start the match. Heynckes said at his final press conference that he has “a matchplan, how we want to play,” but no specific plan for Neuer. Presumably, if Bayern take a comfortable lead and have a free substitution, Neuer may play late in the game.
Another question mark is Kinglsey Coman, who recently returned to full team training. Heynckes could opt to give the fleet-footed youngster a start ahead of Franck Ribery, or like Neuer Coman could appear later in the match as a substitute. Thomas Müller, who missed a practice on account of a stomach virus, and David Alaba, who was recovering from back trouble, both are fit. Arturo Vidal and Jerome Boateng remain sidelined by injury, and Arjen Robben has not been able to overcome his adductor injury in time for the match.
Here is how Heynckes may line up the players that remain at his disposal:
The back line and Javi Martinez, as central defensive midfielder, should speak for themselves. In the midfield, given Robben and Vidal's absence, I suspect that Heynckes will start Thomas Müller on the right wing opposite Ribery. James Rodriguez will play on the 10 spot, while Thiago plays as a box-to-box midfielder, while facilitating the offense. Thiago's playmaking, combined with James's, should give Bayern the extra punch the team needs to keep Eintracht on their heels without sacrificing control of the midfield.
Eintracht have hope
Niko Kovac is fully aware of the mammoth task ahead of him. Eintracht's disappointing performance since he was announced as Bayern's next coach, however, has put a significant damper on those hopes of Frankfurt's first major title since winning the Pokal in 1988. Eintracht have not beaten Bayern since March 20, 2010. They have lost eleven times and escaped with a draw thrice.
Kovac acknowledged this stark reality:
We have to reach our maximum potential and muster everything that has made us strong over the course of the season. And we have to hope that Bayern don't have such a good day. Then something can happen tomorrow. If both teams reach their maximum potential, though, it will be very, very hard for us.
Bayern's future coach did not discuss possible tactics at all, but the team seems fully aware that their defense must be sharp. Defender David Abraham—representing captain Alex Meier, who presumably will not be fit for the game—was matter of fact:
We know what awaits our defense. It's up to us now to have our best day possible. The whole team, however, is needed for that.