Bayern wary of underdogs in German Cup Final
BERLIN, April 28 (Reuters) - Bayern Munich are wary of an Eintracht Frankfurt side with nothing to lose as they prepare for the 63rd German Cup final at the Olympiastadion on Saturday.
Bayern are clear favourites to land the first half of what could be a second successive domestic double, a feat never before managed in Germany. The Bavarians are five points ahead in the league with three to play and could clinch a 20th championship as early as Wednesday.
Frankfurt, by contrast, are down in 13th place and still far from certain of their first-division future.
They face a relegation clash with Kaiserslautern on Wednesday, a match they say is more important than the final, but Bayern are still concerned as they prepare for the 75,000 sell-out at the venue for the World Cup final.
"It's a dangerous game for us," Bayern defender Valerien Ismael told Kicker. "Frankfurt have nothing to lose and we're not playing such good football at the moment."
That is an understatement. Bayern were lucky to escape with a 2-2 draw away to relegation-threatened Mainz last weekend and it is a long time since they played with swagger.
Still, they have proved time and again that they can raise their game when it matters and it is clear the Cup is important to them after another disappointing Champions League campaign.
"Even if the Cup doesn't have quite the same importance as in England, the final is an absolute highlight for us," said Bayern coach Felix Magath, who was sacked by Frankfurt in 2001 before moving to VfB Stuttgart and then Bayern.
"On top of that, no Bundesliga team has ever successfully defended the double before."
Bayern have won the cup a record 12 times, with four of those victories coming since 1998. They have lost in the final only three times out of 15.
Frankfurt have won the cup four times -- 1974, '75, '81 and '88 -- since its start in 1935.
Frankfurt coach Friedhelm Funkel won the Cup as a player at Bayer Uerdingen in 1985 with a 2-1 victory over heavy favourites Bayern Munich but lost by the same score to Bayern as coach at Duisburg 13 years later.
"It was an incredible feeling to win it," said Funkel. "I love going up against Bayern. There's no greater incentive for a player than to beat Bayern in front of 75,000 people. It is something to be savoured."
Bayern made it through to the final with a 3-0 win over second division St Pauli in the semi-finals.
Celebrations in Frankfurt were forbidden after their 1-0 cup semi-final win over Arminia Bielefeld.
The players were all in bed before midnight after that victory two weeks ago to be ready for a relegation battle against Mainz four days later.
They managed just a goalless draw against Mainz but enjoyed an excellent 2-0 win away to VfB Stuttgart last weekend to stay out of trouble.
Whatever happens, Frankfurt can look forward to European football next season. Bayern will go through to the Champions League and would not need the UEFA Cup slot that goes to the Cup winners.