Bayern Munich moved a step closer to their 20th German Cup with a victory over Eintracht Frankfurt. Once again, Robert Lewandowski made the difference but Bayern's sloppiness after a brilliant start is cause for concern.
Bayern Munich 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt, Allianz Arena
(Perisic 14', Lewandowski 74' — Da Costa 69')
Perhaps the most notable thing about Bayern Munich over the last decade is how they’ve made excellence so mundane that when their dominance drops, even momentarily, it feels like a seismic shock.
Eintracht Frankfurt have developed a habit of providing such moments in recent years. A memorable German Cup final win under Niko Kovac in 2018, a 5-1 hammering that cost the same man his job in 2019 and almost a sensational semifinal comeback in 2020. Almost, but not quite. Borussia Dortmund know the feeling.
For all the improvements in pressing, intensity, spirit and organisation instilled by Kovac’s replacement Hansi Flick, one thing has remained constant throughout the reign of several coaches. If you get in trouble, Robert Lewandowski will normally bail you out.
So it was on Wednesday, as the Polish striker’s late effort booked Bayern the chance to win their 20th German Cup to go with their 30th Bundesliga title after an imperious but wasteful first half display gave way to a nervy finish.
While the resurgent Thomas Müller was unfortunate to see his early effort headed off the line, Kingsley Coman and Lewandowski both managed to miss open goals in the opening half hour. The Polish striker could perhaps point to a slight deflection from a defender as a mitigating circumstance for his failure to convert a Müller cross but Coman could surely offer no excuses for his blunder at the back post with no keeper in sight.
Waste not, want not
Luckily for the French flyer, Ivan Perisic’s free header from Müller’s dinked ball had given Bayern the lead ten minutes earlier. While Flick’s quiet revolution has bought the best from established players (Müller, David Alaba, Joshua Kimmich) and emerging talent (Leon Goretzka, Alphonso Davies, Benjamin Pavard), Coman is still yet to really catch fire.
While a touch of wastefulness, both from team and individual, seemed relatively minor imperfections on Flick’s carefully-crafted canvas at that stage, the 55-year-old knows that even those blemishes cannot be allowed to stand at this club. Bayern must be relentless. Here they were not.
"We have to lead by a significantly higher margin after the first half," admitted Thomas Müller after the match, when speaking to German broadcaster ARD.
Spurred by the fact they were somehow still in the game at the break, Frankfurt emerged with a sense of purpose and urgency they’d lacked in the first half. Flick had seen enough by the hour mark, removing both Coman and Perisic in favor of Thiago and Lucas Hernandez. The substituted pair, and Coman in particular, may well have recalled their boss’s words in the prematch press conference as they jogged off.
Familiar face to the rescue
"If you ask me about positions, I'd say wide players – full-backs or wingers – who can add a bit of pace to the team," Flick said, when asked about transfer targets ahead of the game.
After substitute Danny da Costa slammed home an equalizer that Frankfurt’s industry, if not creativity, had earned, Flick may well have been adding finishing to the list of qualities he requires from potential new signings.
Luckily for him, he’s got the best in the business. Just as Frankfurt looked capable of causing Bayern more cup discomfort, Lewandowski slid home from Müller’s flick to book the champions another cup final spot. They’ll play Bayer Leverkusen in Berlin on July 4.
Though they brushed aside the Werkself in the league last week, Peter Bosz‘ charges pose a more serious threat than Frankfurt. Bayern may not get away with taking their foot off the gas again.
As it happened:
FT Bayern Munich 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — It's all over, and Bayern are going to Berlin to face Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final. Bayern strolled the first half but Frankfurt made a fight of it in the second with an impressive effort, but Bayern limp over the line in the end. They deserve it, but were made to fight until the last moments.
90'+3 Bayern using all their experience to take the heat out of this in stoppage time. Frankfurt struggling to get hold of it, and the clock is ticking down.
90'+2 Hinteregger gets a yellow, as does Hernandez for his reaction.
90'+1 Thiago absolutely clattered by Hinteregger, who blatantly pushes the Spaniard in the back and into the advertising hoardings. Completely unnecessary and things get a bit heated, with a few players involved.
90' Four added minutes. Kitchen sink time.
89' Time running out for Frankfurt now, as improved as they've been in this second half.
87' Bayern have a chance to finish Frankfurt off on the break as Müller races forward and picks out Lewandowski with a reverse ball, but the Pole's stepover takes him away from goal and the Pole stumbles. Frankfurt survive.
86' In the end, a crucial headed clearance by Boateng but it was almost an own goal.
85' Bayern sub: Martinez on, Goretzka off.
82' Müller gets into a fine position, but it's great defending by Da Costa who gets back to cut out what would have been a dangerous cross.
80' Nice move by Bayern but it breaks down on the edge of the box as Kimmich tries to coax a ball through to Lewandowski, but it's just too far in front of the Pole and Trapp gathers.
78' Excellent response by Frankfurt, who have Bayern scrapping to clear the ball away. This isn't over.
76' So Bayern back in front, although it's harsh on Frankfurt. The visitors had been the better side in this second half.
74' GOAL! Bayern Munich 2-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — The goal is given after a VAR check. Davies was just on side as he cut the ball back to Kimmich, who shovelled it on to Lewandowski, who slides it in from close range.
74' GOAL! Or is it? Lewandowski puts the ball in the net from close range, but the flag goes up.
72' Trapp forced into a smart save low to his right from Müller. Bayern are beginning to pressure Frankfurt again now.
70' What a brilliant moment for Frankfurt, who have created precious little so far tonight. One chance, one goal.
69' GOAL! Bayern Munich 1-1 Eintracht Frankfurt — Da Costa scores! the substitutions pay off for Hütter and Frankfurt as Kamada and Da Costa combine, and the latter smashes in the equalizer!
67' Interesting changes by Hütter, who may feel that Kamada and Da Costa offer Frankfurt a greater chance of creating something on the break.
65' Frankfurt double sub: Kamada & Da Costa on, Gacinovic & Toure off.
64' The introduction of Thiago is clearly intended to wrestle back control of midfield, with Bayern's dominance having receded somewhat in the opening 20 minutes of the second half.
63' Another threatening free-kick into the box by Rode, but Bayern see off the danger.
62' Bayern double sub: Hernandez & Thiago on, Coman & Perisic off.
61' Kohr flashes a cross across the Bayern goal. All it needed was a touch, and that was a dangerous moment by Frankfurt.
60' Frankfurt starting to see a few things go their way. They're yet to create anything of note, but just starting to apply a little pressure on Bayern.
58' Kimmich is caught on the head by the boot of Kohr. It looked accidental but the Bayern midfielder is bleeding quite badly and has to go off for treatment. Play goes on.
57' Silva drives into the box but hits the deck far too easily.
55' Frankfurt have improved after the break, there's no doubt. Hütter has clearly told his side to go for it in the second half.
52' Gacinovic hangs back at a Frankfurt corner and goes for goal with an audacious volley. He completely misses the ball.
50' Good start to the half by Bayern as they try to claim that all-important second goal.
48' Coman gets into a shooting position, but he's strayed just offside. Hasn't quite gone the Frenchman's way tonight.
46' SECOND HALF. We're back underway.
HT Bayern Munich 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt — Ivan Perisic's goal gives Bayern the lead at the break, but somehow Frankfurt are only a goal behind. They've been comprehensively outplayed so far.
43' Perisic flies into a challenge and picks up a yellow. It was a touch reckless but he didn't make contact with Kohr and that's a little harsh on the goalscorer.
41' Hinteregger makes a vital block on Coman, who had been picked out by Müller with a pull-back.
39' Coman gets into the box but can't carve out a shooting chance, he finds Müller, who feeds Perisic, who forces a corner — but Frankfurt clear their lines.
37' Frankfurt have steadied the ship slightly in the last few minutes, although they're simply unable to apply any kind of pressure on Bayern, who come back again in another wave.
34' Abraham makes the slightest of touches to poke the ball away from Perisic, who was ready to pounce. Frankfurt stretched, almost to breaking point.
32' Last-ditch defending from Frankfurt, who have had their back to the walls for all 32 minutes so far. Bayern should really be further ahead, given that their opponents are pinned inside their own half.
30' First sight at goal for Lewandowski, but he's denied by Trapp.
27' Another missed chance by Coman, who goes clean through and decides to shoot early — but he inexplicably blazes it way over the bar. Really awful shot. He had Lewandowski in support too.
24' Huge miss! Oh, Bayern should be 2-0 up. Davies thrashes a low cross to the far post, but Coman basically misses an open goal. Trapp is nowhere but the Frenchman volley his shot just wide from close range.
22' This is pretty much relentless from Bayern though.
20' Perisic is Bayern's danger man tonight. He picks out Lewandowski, but the Pole is closely marked and can only scuff a shot across goal.
18' Perisic, the man brought in to replace Gnabry tonight, darts into the box but Abraham manages to hold him up until Frankfurt eventually get it clear.
16' Frankfurt looking for an immediate repost as Rode, the former Bayern man, swings a free-kick into the box but Perisic, the goalscorer, heads it clear.
14' GOAL! Bayern Munich 1-0 Eintracht Frankfurt — Perisic scores! Bayern have their noses in front as Müller lifts the ball up for Perisic, and the Croatian beats Trapp with a diving header. the goal had been coming.
11' It's backs to the walls for Frankfurt, who surely can't survive 90 minutes of this.
8' So close for Bayern! Lewandowski ends up in the end, but somehow the ball doesn't after throwing himself at Müller's low cross from the right.
6' Off the line! Müller flicks Kimmich's corner towards goal and Kohr heads off the line, with Trapp rooted to the spot!
4' Davies surges forward but a promising attack ends in a foul being awarded against the Canadian.
2' Bayern's 5-2 victory over Frankfurt just over two weeks ago will be fresh in the memories of both teams. Bayern were dominant that day and the scoreline flattered Frankfurt, who scored two goals during a ten minute spell when Bayern switched off.
1' KICK OFF! We're underway in Munich.
20:40 CET — However, Frankfurt have a habit of raising their game in the Cup against the top sides. They've won seven of their last eight Cup games against Bundesliga opposition, losing only to Dortmund in the 2017 final.
20:35 CET — Frankfurt may be the third most successful club in German Cup history, but they go into this semifinal as huge underdogs. Bayern, who have won this conmpetition seven times in the past decade, are unbeaten in their last 15 home games against Frankfurt, having won 14 of them. Bayern have won the last 11 straight, with an aggregate score of 38-6.
20:25 CET — Eintracht Frankfurt are showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement by replacing their usual shirt sponsor with the #blacklivesmatter hashtag. A great touch.
20:15 CET — The teams are out...
Ivan Perisic is back in Bayern's starting line-up. There's no Serge Gnabry in the squad though.
Frankfurt opt for a defensive line-up in Munich...
Hello and welcome one and all to DW's coverage of the German Cup semifinal between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt, a rematch of the 2018 final that the Eagles won 3-1 to end a 30-year wait for silverware.
The game for a spot in the final on July 4 kicks off at 20:45 CEST (19:45 UTC) and our match blog goes live an hour before the ball gets rolling. For now here's a pregame lowdown to get your teeth stuck into.
Fun fact: The 2018 final
From the coaches' mouth: Hansi Flick
"Football is about winning your matches. We've demonstrated it impressively in 2020. We had problems at the beginning [against Leverkusen], which rightly led to the opener. But we bounced back, we demonstrated our attitude and mentality. It was actually quite good to go a goal down because the team picked themselves up."
Fun fact: Dominant Bayern
Bayern München have reached the final seven times in the last ten years. Their only semi-final eliminations in the last decade all came at home, against Schalke in 2011 (1-0) and against Dortmund in 2015 (2-0 on pens, 1-1 a.e.t.) and 2017 (3-2).
From the player's mouth: Sebastian Rode
"We're not pleased. If we're not able to reach the upper limit for our performances, it's going to be very difficult to win matches. Nevertheless, we can't let our heads drop and have to keep our focus on moving forward."
Fun fact: Not Frankfurt's first rodeo
Frankfurt’s 2-0 win over Bremen in the quarterfinals saw them through to the final four for the third time in the last four years. They went on to reach the final in 2017 and 2018 after wins at Gladbach (7-6 on pens, 1-1 a.e.t.) and at Schalke (1-0) respectively.
Possible lineups: Bayern Munich
Neuer — Pavard, Boateng, Alaba, Davies — Kimmich, Thiago — Gnabry, Müller, Coman — Lewandowski
Possible lineups: Eintracht Frankfurt
Trapp — Abraham, Hasebe, Hinteregger — Toure, Rode, Kohr, Chandler — Gacinovic, Kamada — Silva