The semifinals of this season’s German Cup took place earlier this week. Both games were filled with intensity and had varying degrees of drama. In the end, they produced a final matchup between the two most hated clubs in the country.
The first encounter was between Hamburger SV and RB Leipzig on Tuesday evening. A look at the history of both sides shows the extreme divide between what is and what once has been. Hamburg represents everything that one would associate with a traditional club.
That includes a large fan base, a glamorous past, and over a decade of bad decisions by the board, that have culminated in the team’s long-overdue, first ever relegation to Bundesliga 2 last season, from which they are struggling to gain direct promotion back to the top flight.
RB Leipzig on the other hand, has only been in existence for barely a decade. Since then, they have celebrated promotions from amateur soccer to near top of the German game. That success has been fueled by the money of energy drink giant Red Bull.
In the first half of the game, Hamburg was able to hold its own. The teams went into the locker room with the score level at 1-1 with goals from Yussuf Poulsen and Bakery Jatta respectively, in an open game.
In the second stanza however, the Saxon’s superior class was too much for HSV. An own goal by Vasilije Janjic and a strike by Emil Forsberg made it 3-1, thus sealing Hamburg’s fate and booking Leipzig’s ticket to the German Cup final.
Wednesday’s semifinal between Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich was an at times breathtaking spectacle, between two established clubs in the country.
Toward the end of the first half, Robert Lewandowski gave the Bavarians the lead. After the hour mark Thomas Müller made it 2-0. At that point, everyone must have thought that this would be a simple Munich win, but Bremen refused to go away.
Goals by Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica, a minute apart, leveled the game at 2-2 with 15 minutes to go.
About five minutes later, Kingsley Coman was pushed inside the area, by Theodor Gebre Selassie. The Frenchman fell, and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. It was clearly a very harsh decision, given that it decided the match and that the push was not strong enough to force Coman down. But it was in my opinion not a wrong decision, since the push was there.
Lewandowski stepped up and made it 3-2, sending Bayern into the final of the German Cup on May 25.