Bayern Munich secured a 13th double after running out 4-2 winners in this season’s DFB-Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen.
Hans-Dieter Flick’s champions were too much for Leverkusen, who finished 19 points behind them in the recently completed Bundesliga season.
In the span of eight first-half minutes, Bayern found themselves two goals to the good with Serge Gnabry doubling their lead after David Alaba had put them in front.
Robert Lewandowski seemed to put the contest beyond reach, but Peter Bosz’s side managed to deny their more illustrious opponents a precious clean sheet through Sven Bender. They weren’t able to build on that small glimmer of hope as just before full-time Lewandowski sealed the win in style.
As the celebrations get underway, here are five things we learned from this encounter.
1. Can always count on Lew
The man of Bayern’s season is unquestionably Robert Lewandowski, who across the last 12 months has cemented his status as Europe’s most feared marksman. Set to turn 32 next month, he’s showing no signs of waning. If anything, the Polish striker is aging like a fine wine. His fortuitous effort in the second half (look away Leverkusen ‘keeper, Lukáš Hrádecký) saw him move onto an impressive 50th goal of this campaign.
For all the greatness he possesses, Lewandowski has never reached this milestone before. His previous best effort was 43 during the 2016/17 season. The newly-crowned Bundesliga’s Player of the Season even sent a warning to defenders at home as well as abroad before today’s final.
Robert Lewandowski is now the outright top scorer in all three club competitions he has competed in this season:
✓ Bundesliga (34)
✓ Champions League (11)
✓ DFB-Pokal (5)
The world's best centre-forward. pic.twitter.com/UXEogYz4aW
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) July 4, 2020
“I am not yet in the best period of my career. Soon (I’ll be). But all of these are just numbers,” he told France Football.
“I am confident that the best moment of my career will come quickly. I know this is not my last contract. I want to play longer and stay in shape.
“I have all the time in front of me to think about the future, but I feel really good. I’m going to celebrate my 32nd birthday next August, but that doesn’t mean that I feel this age.
“For me, it doesn’t matter in terms of everything I do, my involvement in and outside of football. What I want is not just staying on top for the next two or three years, I’m looking at the longer term.
“I don’t even think about the Ballon d’Or, even if, in my life, I believe that anything is possible.”
Very few were backing Bayer heading into this contest. The gap in quality was enough for some but for others it really came down to their unfortunate finals record. Since the turn of the millennium, and before today, Leverkusen had reached three major finals, losing in all of them.
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) July 4, 2020
Their calamitous 2001/02 campaign, which saw them be spectacularly denied a historic treble, earned them the moniker “Neverkusen”, and they have unfortunately lived up to that moniker again. Having a Dutch manager couldn’t undo this curse. Bosz was the fourth tactician from the Netherlands to coach in a German Cup final and unlike his predecessors he picked up the silver medal.
3. Bayern’s left flank will tear you apart
Such is the awe of Bayern you never know from where they will strike. To say there are genuine threats from everywhere is an understatement, but one area where they looked particularly devastating this evening was on the left flank. Alphonso Davies, who is on track to becoming world-class, and Kingsley Coman were a handful.
Given their respective ability to move with the ball they’d complete a combined seven take-ons and win five tackles as well as creating no fewer than four chances. None of them led to a goal, but Coman’s replacement, Ivan Persic, did help himself to an assist.
4. Treble a brewin’
Next month sees the resumption of the Champions League and Bayern Munich have to be considered among the favourites. They first must get past last 16 rivals Chelsea, who they lead 3-0 on aggregate, before dreaming of equalling Barcelona’s feat of winning two European trebles.
17 – @FCBayernEN are the first team in German professional football to win 17 consecutive games in all competitions (Leverkusen had 16 wins in a row back in 1978). Unstoppable. #B04FCB #Berlin2020 pic.twitter.com/Uacoz36wwf
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) July 4, 2020
Form and momentum is certainly on their side. Tonight’s win saw them break Leverkusen’s domestic record for most consecutive wins in all competitions. Die Werkself back in 1978 managed to record 16 successive victories. Now Bayern are the first team to reach 17, and who would bet against them from adding more?
5. Bender’s breakthrough and Havertz’s hurrah?
Bayer’s consolation goals had their very own stories to tell. Bender’s effort from a corner, which denied Bayern another shutout, was his first-ever goal in Germany’s premier cup competition. Incredibly, in his previous 33 outings for Borussia Dortmund and now Leverkusen he’d never manage a successful strike. A bittersweet moment no doubt.
— Bayer 04 Leverkusen (@bayer04_en) July 4, 2020
The final kick of the game went to highly-talented playmaker Kai Havertz, whose converted penalty deep into stoppage time could have its own significance. There’s a strong possibility it was his last in a Leverkusen jersey. His current manager Bosz earlier this year stated his belief that Havertz — who is being chased by a number of super clubs — would leave the club in excess of €100m. This upcoming summer transfer window is probably the most anticipated for a while.