BERLIN: Treble-chasing Bayern Munich are hunting their second title this season in Saturday’s German Cup final, a behind-closed-doors showdown that should have been an “absolute highlight” for success-starved Bayer Leverkusen fans.
Normally, the end-of-season showpiece final at Berlin’s iconic Olympic Stadium would be a festive affair in front of a packed house of 75,000 supporters.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic just 700 will be allowed into the enormous stadium for this year’s final, including both teams, their backroom staff and officials.
Germany head coach Joachim Loew is one of the few invited guests.
After the final whistle, when German FA president Fritz Keller hands over the trophy, only the cheers of the winning team will echo around the cavernous stadium.
Former Bayern president Uli Hoeness finds it “a pity” that no fans will be present for the Berlin spectacle, while Leverkusen sports director Rudi Voeller feels the same before his club’s first cup final since 2009.
“For our fans, this would have been an absolute highlight after many years,” said former Germany midfielder Voeller. “To play in this giant cauldron in front of just a few spectators is quite sad.”
Nevertheless, holders Bayern are determined to defend the cup, even if head coach Hansi Flick admits that without traveling support, their fans will be “very, very absent.”
Having lifted the Bundesliga trophy last Saturday for the eighth straight year, Bayern are targeting the next piece of silverware in their treble bid before tackling the Champions League in August.
“The boys are up for it and want to win the next title, we will do everything we can to achieve that,” said Bayern sports director Hasan Salihamidzic.
“We are very optimistic that we will come out as winners.”
Sane joins Bayern
Separately, Leroy Sane has targeted Champions League glory with Bayern Munich after joining the Bundesliga giants from Manchester City for a fee of around €50 million ($56 million) on Friday.
The Germany winger has returned to his home country on a 5-year contract after receiving the blessing of City coach Pep Guardiola.
“Bayern is a very big club and has big goals — these goals suit me as well,” said the 24-year-old Sane.
“I want to win as many titles as possible with Bayern, and the Champions League is at the top.”
The Bundesliga champions did not give the transfer fee, but Sky Sports and the BBC have reported that Bayern and City agreed a fee of €60.8 million.
German daily Bild claim the fee is around