RB Leipzig is again in the DFB Cup final. And yet the trophy should end up in the display case in Frankfurt, according to the Eintracht fans. It’s a 50:50 game, says SBU legend “Charly” Körbel in an interview with ntv.de. But Eintracht have Glasner, Kolo-Muani, Trapp – and the “fan factor”.
ntv.de: Mr. Körbel, seventh place in the Bundesliga means Conference League. For the third year in a row it’s called “Eintracht International”. Nevertheless: After the phenomenal first half of the season, the best for almost 30 years, more could have been done. What is your Bundesliga season summary?
Karl-Heinz “Charly” Körbel: That cannot yet be concluded in this sense. Of course everyone thought after the first half of the season that Eintracht would play in the Champions League again. There were even a few voices saying that we could take the championship away from Bayern. In the end, seventh place also means: Eintracht is playing internationally again! And that’s really crazy when you consider that the relegation against Nuremberg was less than ten years ago. Personally, the season reminds me of 1987/88: there were phases of weakness in the Bundesliga, but we ended up winning the cup!
Sounds like a good omen! Here are more: The SGE wins the UEFA Cup in 1980 and a year later it becomes the DFB Cup winner. In 2022 Frankfurt will triumph in the Europa League and in 2023…
(Laughs) … she will win the cup. Perhaps. There are also parallels to 2018: the cup final was coach Niko Kovac’s last game. This time it is Coach Oliver Glasner’s last game.
However, the opponent in the final is not called Bayern Munich, but with RB Leipzig it appears just as overpowering if you look at the pure numbers: third place in the final table, again top class, most recently even won at Bayern.
A month ago I would have said that Leipzig is the clear favourite. But Eintracht got back on track at the end of the season. The win in the last game against SC Freiburg, who also wanted to play in the Champions League, was important. On the one hand, the SBU will also play internationally in the coming year. The pressure for the cup final to be a “do-or-die” game is gone in one fell swoop. On the other hand, the victory showed the team what they are made of, what power they can bring to the pitch. The team can now play freely in the Berlin Olympic Stadium, enjoy the game and the atmosphere.
Why did the turnaround in the Bundesliga come so late?
If only we knew that… But the only important thing is that it existed. Suddenly one cog slips into the other. Perhaps the decision to part ways with Glasner at the end of the season was the deciding factor? Maybe it was just gambling luck that returned? The fact is that the team appears more liberated.
Liberator, yes. But the hospital has also thinned out. Jesper Lindström, Junior Dina Ebimbe and Philipp Max could play from the start in the cup final. That wasn’t an issue two weeks ago. The squad has grown again, also in defence.
Karl-Heinz “Charly” Körbel played for Eintracht Frankfurt from 1972 to 1991 and is the record player in the league with 602 Bundesliga games played. He wore the German national jersey six times. With Eintracht he won the DFB Cup (1974, 1975, 1981, 1988) and the UEFA Cup (1980) four times. In the 1990s he was also on the coaching bench at Frankfurt. Today he runs the Eintracht Frankfurt football school.
And that is also positive! Leipzig has to adjust to several constellations: Lenz or Max, Rode or Ebimbe, Ebimbe or Buta. And in defense N’Dicka, Tuta and Toure can play the back three, or N’Dicka, Hasebe and Tuta. That makes Eintracht more difficult to calculate.
Who could be the match winner from Frankfurt’s point of view?
(Laughs) I can think of many, it also depends on who comes on from Glasner. But one thing is clear: Eintracht needs an outstanding Kevin Trapp who has to have a very, very good day. Leipzig is strong with standards, whether corners or free kicks. The tips are lightning fast and accurate. But if Trapp is safe at the back, he also gives the people in front the necessary support and the self-confidence that you need against RB.
Frankfurt vs. Leipzig actually sounds like the French national striker duel Randal Kolo Muani vs. Christopher Nkunku. The latter has scored one more goal than Kolo Muani in the league. In turn, he was by far the best scorer in the Bundesliga. Who can put their stamp on the game?
Both of them will definitely get chances. They’re just too good for that. Kolo Muani turns nothing into a goal. It’s similar with Nkunku. A 90-minute complete monitoring is not possible. With Kolo Muani, I hope that he will take two or three opponents out of the game so that other Frankfurters get more space up front. Space that can then be used, for example, by a Kamada, a Lindstrom or a Buta or Götze.
Key word: free spaces. There won’t be any in the Olympic Stadium. The Frankfurt fans expect that they will clearly be in the majority. There are even figures circulating that speak of 50,000 Eintracht fans in the stadium. What role do the fans play in this final?
Eintracht Frankfurt and the fan factor: Maybe there will be so many. Maybe less. Maybe we’ll see pictures that remind us of Barcelona last year. Who knows? The fact is: the Eintracht fans are a force! You will give everything. Powerful, choreo. From the first minute to the very last. As in the entire Europa League season, you will become the 12th man of Eintracht. Leipzig can’t keep up with that!
What kind of game do you expect?
The game will be highly competitive. Leipzig respects us. And not just because we are a cup team. As a reminder: In the first half of the season we beat RB 4-0 at home. And never lost at home against Leipzig.
And Frankfurt got home rights in the Olympic Stadium…
Another good omen: 2018 was the same. In terms of the game, however, it will be tighter this time. I don’t expect careful scanning. I think both teams will try to press deep, want to provoke mistakes in order to create their chances. But I also think that we will see more than just 90 minutes. So extra time and maybe even a penalty shoot-out should be planned for. In any case, the nerves of the fans will not have it easy.
And who wins this thing in the end?
(Laughs) I don’t understand the question… No, seriously: the odds are 50/50. A single mistake can be decisive, whether it’s by the players, the ref or the VAR. I just hope that Eintracht shows their cup face, wins and can celebrate another cup win. Penalty shoot-out, if you like, and with Trapp as the great hero! That would also be the perfect farewell for Oliver Glasner. I know from many conversations that the team wants to give him this gift. And I hope it works. It would be amazing: Eintracht wins the second trophy in Glasner’s second season. That would be a round thing!
Thomas Badtke spoke to Karl-Heinz “Charly” Körbel