Völklingen (dpa) – Bayer Leverkusen has ended the football fairy tale of fourth division club 1. FC Saarbrücken with little shine but ice-cold professionalism and is reaching for the first title since 1993.
Even without the battered mega-talent Kai Havertz, the Werkself never let the favorites win win 3-0 (2-0) in the first semi-final of the DFB Cup in Völklingen. With their fourth final appearance, the first since 2009, the Leverkusen team will face FC Bayern Munich or Eintracht Frankfurt on July 4th in Berlin.
“You play a final to win it. That will be the next order,” Leverkusen’s trainer Peter Bosz announced at Sky. Sports director Rudi Völler dreams that it will not be a complete ghost game. “I’m a bit optimistic about it and haven’t given up hope that we might have a few spectators there. Maybe you want to make a small statement in the big stadium. But that is what politics decides.”
Saarbrücken, who had written cup history as the first fourth division team in the semi-finals, did not disgrace and at least bravely opposed it. After three months without a game, without spectators and against an overpowering opponent this time, the fifth sensation after the victories against the Bundesliga clubs Cologne and Düsseldorf as well as the second division teams Regensburg and Karlsruhe was illusory.
“This is a great success and an opportunity to win a title. That’s why I’m very satisfied,” said Bayer CEO Fernando Carro. Saarbrücken’s goalkeeper Daniel Batz, on the other hand, was “incredibly disappointed”. The respect was too great. “We gave everything. Our match schedule was different. We played 5-5-0 the way we didn’t want to play it.” Trainer Lukas Kwasniok added: “We lost. That is bad for the state of mind at first. We were there, but not grippy. We wanted to draw all our weapons and throw cotton balls.”
Moussa Diaby (11th) and Lucas Alario (17th) had provided the early goals that Bayer had longed for and feared by the FCS. After that, it was only a matter of the amount of the result. With just one more goal through Karim Bellarabi (58th), the Champions League aspirant ultimately graciously shaped the result.
Because the first semifinals in 35 years took place in front of empty ranks, the Saarbrücken team tried to simulate the best possible atmosphere. In the hour before the kick-off, club hymns, Ballermann music and fans’ voice messages alternated from the stadium boxes at extreme volume. The pubs in Saarbrücken, meanwhile, were allowed to open until 12:00 a.m. instead of 11:00 p.m. with a special permit – in the event of extra time and penalties. But that was done quickly.
Tactically Saarbruecken coach Lukas Kwasniok, who had only prepared his team for this game for six weeks and announced a “battle plan instead of a match plan”, surprised with a chain of five with former Bundesliga professional Manuel Zeitz as middle man. Bayer started in spite of five changes and without the newly struck international Havertz in the usual 4-2-3-1, which, however, was interpreted very aggressively as expected.
The outsider was quickly in competition mode, but Leverkusen tackled the task in a focused and serious manner. And was quickly rewarded. After a pass from Kerem Demirbay that was worth seeing, Diaby took the lead with a volley through Daniel Batz’s legs. Six minutes later, Batz, penalty hero in the quarterfinals against Düsseldorf – prevented the free-standing Charles Aranguiz from 0-2. Another two minutes later, the otherwise strong keeper was complicit in the second goal when he deflected the ball unhappily to Alario.
83 percent possession of the ball and 15: 1 shots on goal were noted at half-time for the Bundesliga club, who initially missed the last greed after the 2-0. Saarbrücken could have made the game exciting again with a goal, and Batz from the goal and Kwasniok at the edge of the field roared the team in turns. When Bellarabi, who came on for the break, scored 3: 0 without much resistance, it was clear even to the greatest Saarbrücken optimists that the cup fairy tale ended here.