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Key Matchups: DFB Pokal Final

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An old series makes its return!

Ecuador v Mexico Photo by Chris Covatta/Getty Images

Borussia Dortmund’s final match of the season arrives on Saturday, when Borussia Dortmund will take on Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB-Pokal Final. It can’t be overstated how much a win would mean to the club. These players have fought through a long year filled with struggles, surprises, and terrorist attacks. In the same way, the challengers from Frankfurt have had quite a tumultuous year: after contending for the top-four for quite some time, they fell of a cliff, slipping all the way down to 11th in the Bundesliga. Even though their Rückrunde has been dreadful, they will give everything they have.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Strong Defense

Even during the Hinrunde, Eintracht Frankfurt weren’t exactly a high-powered offensive side. They mostly rely on their defensive system, the brainchild of rookie manager Nico Kovač. Breakout youngster Jesus Vallejo, on loan from Real Madrid, who is questionable for Saturday, anchors a back three that has, at different points, included Michael Hector, Makoto Hasebe, Andersson Ordonez, and David Abraham. When out of possession, the wing backs move back to form a back five. The front three of Marco Fabian, Alexander Meier, and Mijat Gacinovic work tirelessly off the ball to create turnovers and break up the build of play.

Key to the Game: Strike First

As dangerous as Marco Fabian and Alexander Meier can be, Frankfurt’s strength is in their defense. If they score the first goal, they will try to win it 1-0. If Dortmund get the first goal, I have a tough time seeing Frankfurt mustering the ability to “go out and get one.” We all know Dortmund’s tendency to let in an early goal this season. If Frankfurt strike first, the pressure will become enormous, and that can lead to further mistakes. If I were Nico Kovač, I’d have my players flying out of the gates like it’s the Kentucky Derby. Dortmund have to be ready.

Player to Watch: Marco Fabian

Frankfurt don’t really lean on one player as much as other clubs, tending to score by committee. That being said, when healthy, Marco Fabian has been Frankfurt’s most dangerous player. The Mexican International has 7 goals and 4 assists in only 23 matches, making him Frankfurt’s leading scorer. His positioning is phenomenal, his work rate is incessant... and let’s not forget, he has a tendency to score dramatic goals:

Projected Lineup:

Frankfurt have been ravaged by injuries recently, so predicting the lineup isn’t exact science. That disclaimer aside, here’s my best guess:

Formation: 5-2-3

Goalkeeper: Lukas Hradecky

Defenders: Timothy Chandler, Anderson Ordoñez, Jesus Vallejo, David Abraham, Bastian Oczipka.

Midfielders: Michael Hector, Slobodan Medojevic

Forwards: Marco Fabian, Alexander Meier, Mijat Gacinovic

Predicted Score: 3-1

Despite their defensive strengths, Eintracht Frankfurt simply aren’t good enough. They’ve been dreadful for months, and I think that if Dortmund score first they will be able to see the match through. I’ll also throw in a garbage goal from Frankfurt.