A victory in the German Cup final against VfB Stuttgart on Saturday evening would see FC Bayern München crown their remarkable season with one more bit of history. With the Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League titles already secured, an unprecedented treble is up for grabs in Berlin, a feat never achieved in Germany before.
As the most successful side in the competition's history, with 15 successes to their name, the cup can at times feel a little pedestrian to a club like Bayern. This season, however, the stakes are a lot higher, with history just 90 minutes away.
"The treble is something very special for German football and us players," said Manuel Neuer, who did not forget that it will also be coach Jupp Heynckes' last game in charge before making way for the incoming Josep Guardiola. "Of course we want to give him a nice farewell. I never knew that he had not won the cup before. He deserves that title in Berlin."
That title would see Heynckes achieve one more memorable milestone. By beating Stuttgart, who ended the Bundelsiga campaign in 12th, the 68-year-old would become just the fourth person to win the trophy as player and coach.
Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge feels "the players know they can become immortal now", but at the same time raised questions as to whether the team is capable of raising themselves again after the high of their dramatic Wembley win against Borussia Dortmund. Bastian Schweinsteiger was quick to reassure his boss that they are: "The team is incredibly hungry for that cup. Of course, London was something extra special, but from day to day our focus on the cup has grown. Everyone desperately wants to win this one."
Bayern will make do without defender Dante and midfielder Luiz Gustavo, who have travelled to Brazil for Sunday's friendly against England, but will hope to put in a performance that banishes memories of last year's showpiece, when they were trounced 5-2 by Dortmund. "We hope for a better ending this time," Schweinsteiger added, hoping for a sixth win in the competition.
"Bayern are currently the strongest side in Europe, if not the world. They have broken almost every record this season. Nevertheless, we enter this match believing we can win it," countered Stuttgart coach Bruno Labbadia. "There are certain days, when a team can win without having the opponent's quality. We are hoping for such a day. Our hunger for the cup win is huge. We have to reach our top level. We have strengths with which we can hurt them, we have to make those count."
Not only would an upset be Labbadia's first title as coach, but it would also ensure his side enter next season's UEFA Europa League in the group stage rather than the third qualifying round, which would be the case if they come out losers on Saturday.
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