German Cup

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Bayern’s history meets upstart Leipzig in German Cup final

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BERLIN (AP) Their histories, and lists of achievements, couldn’t be more different.

Bayern Munich has won 54 major titles, while Leipzig has none. Bayern has been around for 119 years, Leipzig 10.

Luckily for Leipzig, though, those numbers won’t mean much when the two teams meet in the German Cup final on Saturday.

Bayern won its 29th German league title last Saturday and is bidding for a record-extending 19th German Cup win. But Leipzig will head into the match knowing it’s no pushover.

Leipzig held Bayern to a 0-0 draw in the Bundesliga’s penultimate round – delaying the Bavarian club’s title celebrations by another week – while Bayern needed penalties to get past Leipzig in their only previous German Cup meeting in October 2017.

Bayern coach Niko Kovac, who won the title with Eintracht Frankfurt against his future club last year, is preparing for his third straight final. Kovac, however, is under pressure after his debut season at Bayern and would boost his case to remain with a win.

Leipzig coach Ralf Rangnick, who is really the club’s sporting director, is leading the opposing team on an interim basis this season before Julian Nagelsmann arrives from Hoffenheim to take over.

Leipzig’s mere existence is a source of ire for rival fans who object to its fast rise, which was made possible by energy drink manufacturer Red Bull and its co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz. The 75-year-old Austrian billionaire bought a local fifth-tier team, SSV Markranstadt, rebranded it with his company’s name and financed its steady promotion through the lower leagues to the Bundesliga.

Few at the club could have imagined that it would be so successful, so quickly. Leipzig finished second and qualified for the Champions League in its debut Bundesliga season, dropped to sixth because of the added burden of European games in its next, and comfortably finished third after another solid campaign this season.

It would not have been possible without Red Bull, which already had the New York Red Bulls, Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull Brasil and Red Bull Ghana in its portfolio of soccer clubs.

Leipzig chairman Oliver Mintzlaff defended receiving a loan of 134.2 million euros ($150 million) from the energy drink behemoth, saying Friday that it was necessary for the establishment of what has become a highly successful club.

“That we had to take a loan as a start-up company, to invest in bricks and legs, is right,” Mintzlaff told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily newspaper. “But if we were to sell everything that was achieved here, purely theoretically, the club would have made a very, very big plus. There would be big double-digit, maybe even a triple-digit million figure remaining.”

Leipzig’s turnover is 250 million euros ($279 million), compared to Bayern’s 657.4 ($734 million) for 2017-18.

Mintzlaff said the club was among the “most transparent soccer clubs,” in contrast to the likes of Volkswagen-backed Wolfsburg.

“We don’t hide anything. We wouldn’t get a license if we didn’t pay our debts,” Mintzlaff said. “Other clubs that get money from other backers do it, too. Borussia Dortmund is a stock cooperation, Hertha Berlin has got an investor on board, Schalke has (food industry billionaire) Clemens Tonnies.”

Bayern is backed by sportswear giant Adidas, carmaker Audi and financial services company Allianz, with each holding an 8.33% stake in the club, which has further lucrative sponsorship deals with Deutsche Telekom, DHL, Siemens, Goodyear, SAP, Paulaner beer and Qatar Airways. The latter is the subject of protest from some Bayern fans.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

Bayern beats Bremen 3-2 to reach German Cup final

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BREMEN, Germany (AP) Robert Lewandowski sent Bayern Munich into the German Cup final by scoring twice in a 3-2 win over Werder Bremen on Wednesday, including the winner in the 80th minute.

Bayern built a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead after Lewandowski opened the scoring in the 36th minute by turning in a header from Thomas Mueller, who added the second in the 63rd.

But Bremen staged a quick comeback with two goals in the span of two minutes through Yuya Osako and Milot Rashica.

However, Kingsley Coman was fouled inside the box in the 80th minute and Lewandowski converted the penalty to set up a final against RB Leipzig.

“In my opinion, we deserve to reach the final because we had better chances than Bremen,” Bayern coach Niko Kovac said.

“It was a great fight, as expected, and in the end we needed that little bit of luck.”

Coman seals Bayern’s German Cup progress in extra time

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BERLIN (AP) Kingsley Coman sent Bayern Munich into the German Cup quarterfinals with an extra-time winner for a 3-2 victory at Hertha Berlin on Wednesday.

Despite dominating the game, Bayern was facing the prospect of penalties in front of some 75,000 fans at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium until Hertha’s defense failed to deal with a bobbling ball and Coman headed in from close range in the 98th minute.

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Hertha had only three efforts on goal but scored with, and took the lead through Maximilian Mittelstaedt in the third minute. But Robert Lewandowski set up Serge Gnabry to reply four minutes later, and Bayern went on to dominate the game in terms of possession and chances. Gnabry claimed his second right after the break, shooting inside the far post after James Rodriguez – who started for the second successive game – helped the ball on.

A mistake from Mats Hummels then allowed Hertha substitute Davie Selke to equalize with only the side’s second chance in the 67th, after the Bayern defender botched a back-pass to goalkeeper Sven Ulreich. Selke pounced and scored from a narrow angle.

Elsewhere, Schalke marked the death of former general manager Rudi Assauer ahead of its 4-1 home win over Fortuna Duesseldorf. Assauer oversaw the club’s UEFA Cup win in 1997 and two successive German Cup titles, and also oversaw the building of the club’s stadium.

“Without Rudi, none of us would be here. Rudi is the architect of modern Schalke,” current general manager Clemens Toennies said before kickoff.

Earlier, Leipzig defeated Wolfsburg 1-0 to reach the quarterfinals for the first time, and Augsburg won 1-0 at second-division Holstein Kiel.

More AP German soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Pulisic with a hand in three goals of BVB thriller (video)

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
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The vision in this kid, you guys (and girls).

USMNT attacker Christian Pulisic had another fantastic match on Wednesday, playing a part in all three goals of Borussia Dortmund’s 3-2 defeat of Union Berlin in the German Cup.

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After bundling over the opener from close range, Pulisic played Marvin Philipp through with a spectacular ball for Dortmund’s second (see below).

Those goals gave BVB leads of 1-0 and 2-1 but Sebastian Polter scored twice for Union to push the match to extra time. That’s where Pulisic was pulled back while attempting to get to a cross, earning a penalty converted by Marco Reus.

BVB moves on to the Round of 16. The draw will be held Nov. 4.

Kovac to meet next club as Eintracht joins Bayern in Cup Final

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Awwwwkwaaaard.

Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac is heading to take over the Bayern Munich job after this season, but first he’s aiming to beat them in the German Cup Final.

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Luka Jovic scored a remarkable flying goal to lead Eintracht past Schalke 1-0 in Wednesday’s semifinal. The 20-year-old Bosnian, on loan from Benfica, has nine goals in 24 appearances for Eintracht.

Die Adler has won the German Cup four times, the last title coming in 1988. Bayern has won it four times since 2010 and has 18 overall.