RB Leipzig 0-3 Bayern Munich: Five things learned as Lewandowski and Kovac make history with Pokal triumph
Bayern Munich beat RB Leipzig 3-0 on Saturday as Niko Kovac became the first manager to retain the DFB-Pokal with two different teams.
Two goals from Robert Lewandowski and another from Kingsley Coman did the damage for Bayern and denied Leipzig a first-ever major trophy, although they created plenty of chances of their own in an entertaining final.
But what did we learn as Bayern sealed the domestic double in Berlin?
1. Neuer saves the day
There’s a phrase in Germany called ‘Bayern-Dusel’ (Bayern luck), whereby Bayern Munich get a bigger share of luck than any other side.
It’s not hard to see why fans of other teams would accuse Bayern of this, given their immense success. But on Saturday, they made their own luck. Or, more to the point, Manuel Neuer made their luck.
As usual, Neuer played his Torwartlibero (libero ‘keeper) role to perfection, having 50 touches of the ball and racking up a 75 per cent pass completion.
But it was his actual goalkeeping work that shone here, with the Germany international making a superb reaction save to deny Yussuf Poulsen in the first half and making himself big to stop Emil Forsberg one-on-one in the second.
This stellar performance comes off the back of a five-game Bundesliga absence for Neuer thanks to a calf injury and shows just how truly world-class the 33-year-old remains.
2. Youngster keeps his head on the big stage
He might only be 20 years old, but Tyler Adams is making waves in the Bundesliga.
The midfielder only moved to RB Leipzig from MLS side New York Red Bulls in January but he’s taken to German football like a duck to water, making 3.61 tackles per 90 minutes in the Bundesliga this season – the highest of any Leipzig player.
And he continued that brilliant, rapid-speed development on Saturday. Adams lasted 65 minutes of the DFB-Pokal final but managed five tackles during that time – more than any other player on the pitch at that point.
It was his persistent efforts to break up Bayern’s play which kept the German champions at bay during the first half. A Gold Cup appearance with USMNT is to come, then a big pre-season to bring his fitness up to scratch. Once that happens, there may be no stopping this young, midfield engine.
3. Bundesliga’s best defence no match for its best goalscorer
With just 29 goals conceded in 34 Bundesliga games, RB Leipzig were the German top-flight’s most water-tight defence during 2018/19.
But if you think that makes even the smallest difference to Lewandowski, think again. The Poland international is indiscriminate, he’ll score against anyone.
His goal after 29 minutes put Bayern in a very commanding position after they’d spent the opening exchanges of Saturday’s final right on the back foot.
Some smart work down Bayern’s left saw Coman feed the overlapping David Alaba. His cross was just behind Lewandowski but the 30-year-old took it all in his stride, twisting back in neck-breaking fashion to get his head onto the ball and divert it into the bottom corner. A world-class effort from a world-class goalscorer.
And in the second half, Joshua Kimmich played a fantastic ball behind the Leipzig defence, with Lewandowski shrugging off Dayot Upamecano as if he wasn’t there, then chipping the ball beyond the reach of Peter Gulacsi in ruthless fashion. 191 and up for Lewandowski.
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4. KINGsley Coman
There’s been a fair bit of criticism of Coman in recent years. Too injury-prone. Mercurial. No end product. He’s had plenty thrown at him. On Saturday, though, he showed exactly why he’s held in such high regard in Munich.
His goal on 78 minutes – taken in sublime fashion with a lovely bait-and-switch before firing home – put the game beyond a brave Leipzig side and allowed Bayern to enjoy the final 12 minutes.
It also rounded off a performance which saw Coman make two key passes and complete two successful dribbles, with his pace and intelligence keeping Leipzig busy all evening.
5. Robben and Ribery get their send-off
Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery may have scored their final Bayern goals and said their emotional Bundesliga goodbyes at the weekend but they weren’t quite done in a red shirt.
With Bayern putting Leipzig to the sword, Niko Kovac brought the two veterans on in the second half to put the seal on two truly remarkable careers in German football.
With 732 Bayern appearances between them, Robben and Ribery have won a combined 29 major honours with the Bavarians. Over the years, they’ve played a key role in every success the German giants have enjoyed.
Robben actually fluffed a decent chance to score one last time for Bayern late on but with another winner’s medal around his neck and a night of celebration ahead, he won’t mind too much.