A 26th different team will raise the trophy at the Olympiastadion on Saturday as RB Leipzig and Freiburg compete to become first time champions.
This is Leipzig’s third final in the club’s history, all coming within the last four outings. Defeats to Bayern Munich in the 2018/19 final and Borussia Dortmund a year ago still plagues Die Roten Bullen. They will hope for the third time to be the charm. This is Freiburg’s first ever cup final.
On their road to the final, Leipzig faced just one other Bundesliga side, which was their most recent cup tie. There they got the better of Union Berlin at home, who was the only team to find the back of the net against the Champions League-bound Leipzig. It ultimately was not enough, as the Red Bull-owned club overcame the deficit, with a 93rd minute goal sending them through. Domenico Tedesco’s side also beat Sandhausen, Babelsberg and Hansa Rostock to reach the final.
Freiburg had it much more difficult. The Breisgau-Brasilianer played all five of their cup matches this campaign away from home. First round opponents Würzburger Kickers was the only side not to find the back of the net against Christian Streich’s men in the tournament, falling 1-0. Penalties were required against Osnabrück to go through, but a comfortable 4-1 win over Hoffenheim followed. The quarter-final tie with Bochum needed extra time but got over the line. The semi-final match against Hamburg saw three first half goals, which proved to be enough despite a late consolation goal.
Leipzig finished fourth in the Bundesliga, earning them a fifth season in the Champions League, and a fourth successive campaign in Europe’s premier club competition in September. It will be their sixth European journey, all in a succession.
For Freiburg, they still had a chance at fourth place heading into the final round of matches. Unfortunately for them, a counter-attack as the last kick of the game against Bayer Leverkusen coupled with an RB Leipzig equaliser late on at relegated Arminia Bielefeld leaves them with Europa League football next season. It will be Freiburg’s fifth European adventure and their first since the 2017/18 campaign. All five European seasons have been played in the Europa League or its predecessor, the UEFA Cup.
Both meetings in the league this season ended 1-1. Angeliño rescued a point for RB Leipzig in the 90th minute against Freiburg in March.
Kicker have predicted the following starting XI for both clubs:
Freiburg: Flekken – Gulde, Lienhart, Schlotterbeck – Kübler, M. Eggestein, Höfler, Günter – Sallai, Grifo – Höler.
RB Leipzig: Gulácsi – Klostermann, Orban, Simakan – Henrichs, Laimer, Kampl, Angeliño – Forsberg, Nkunku – Silva