They battled it out for first place during the season. This Saturday, Schalke 04 and champion's FC Bayern Munich will match up for the last time this season. At stake: the German Cup.
Make room for the champion: Bayern (r.) and Schalke
There is really little love lost between these two teams.
Their managers use the nation's biggest tabloid to bicker and complain about one another and the coaches aren't immune to a little one-upmanship either.
But Bayern and Schalke 04 probably see it as their right to act like big shots. With their large fan base and massive budgets that helped them to a one-two finish this season, they certainly are the biggest thing in the Bundesliga at the moment.
On Saturday, the two will end a season of tough Bundesliga competition by fighting for the German Cup final at Berlin's Olympic Stadium. Organizers are expecting a capacity crowd at the refurbished stadium, which now holds up to 75,000 people. This year will mark the 14th time Bayern has competed for the trophy in Germany's top tournament, winning 12 of them. Schalke last won in 2001 and 2002, and his competed four times altogether.
Who will get to kiss the cup next?
Taking it easy?
"It has long been my goal to be here," said Bayern coach Felix Magath, who has the opportunity to complete his first season by winning a domestic double. "It's the high point of the career of any player or coach."
Ralf Rangnick has had a good start in his first season at Schalke
Schalke's Ralf Rangnick (photo) said that after competing viciously with Bayern for the league title and qualifying itself for the Champion's League, the club can take time to enjoy their final match of the season.
"Still, I'm sure that we're motivated enough to win the final," he added, at the joint press conference between the two this week.
The two were a bit punchier earlier this week, giving the media plenty to print in the run-up to the final. Magath (photo), whose team lost both matches with Schalke this season, said his team was better.
Felix Magath lead his team to the title in his first year as coach
"Schalke can't always get so lucky," he said. Manager Uli Honess said it was "unthinkable that a team like Schalke 04 should beat Bayern three times" in one year.
Rangnick thanked Hoeness for the words of motivation, adding that he didn't really need to add much in order to fire up his players.
"According to Bayern, we shouldn't even bother showing up," Rangnick said. "But they were just as optimistic before our games in the Bundesliga."
Arriving in style
Both sides finished the season on a high note. Bayern mopped up struggling Vfb Stuttgart, which was fighting for third place, by a score of 3-1. Striker and Dutch international Roy Makaay has shown recently that he is top form adding a few goals and assists in the final weeks to give him the overall scorer's title. Michael Ballack continues the strong form he has displayed all season and his midfielding partner Sebastian Deisler has ended a season in which he suffered from psychological problems on a high note, scoring some nifty goals in the final games.
Schalke, too, has much to be pleased about. After losing steam in the race to unseat Bayern as champion's, the blue-collar team from the former mining town of Gelsenkirchen was in danger of giving up second place and its spot in the Champion's League tournament. But Schalke slipped by bottom-feeders SC Freiburg on a goal by Marcelo Bordon (photo) in the 89th minute, to win 3-2 and secure second place.
Schalke's Marcelo Jose Bordon celebrates after scoring the winning goal.
The "royal blues" expect to elevate their game, as they always seem to do, against their favorite nemesis.
"If Bayern wants to beat us, they have to be better than we are," said Schalke striker Gerald Asamoah. "They were not in the first two meetings."