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No Cinderella Story as Leverkusen Crush Saarbrucken

Die Werkself score three without reply to advance to fourth-ever DFB Pokal Final...

1. FC Saarbruecken v Bayer 04 Leverkusen - DFB Cup
Anthony Barylla of 1. FC Saarbruecken shadows Karim Bellarabi of Bayer 04 Leverkusen during the DFB Cup semi-final match between the clubs at an empty Hermann-Neuberger-Stadion.
Photo by Ronald Wittek/Pool via Getty Images

The 1FC Saarbrucken fairytale run came to an abrupt end today at their tiny Hermann-Neuberger-Stadion.

Canadian interest through the inclusion of Kianz Froese was realized, but only after the restart, with the striker introduced for team-mate, Tobias Janicke on 46 mins.

By then their more experienced opponents, three divisions higher in the German football pyramid, had already established a decisive 2-0 lead which could have been even more convincing.

Within 20 mins, goals from French u21 international Moussa Diaby and Lucas Alario all but killed the tie, and after a bright opening to the second-half by the home side, Karim Bellarabi doused the flames of any prospective comeback by the little Regionalla Sud-ouest side by scoring Leverkusen’s third.

International team-mate of Impact’s Jukka Raitala and Lassi Lappalainen, Slovakian-born ‘keeper, Lukas Hradecky, kept a clean sheet in goal for Leverkusen. Under normal circumstances of course all three would have been in Copenhagen preparing for Finland’s first-ever tournament finals match against Denmark in the postponed Euros.

But these days normality remains elusive and added complexity to Saarbrucken’s already slim chance of victory. They were denied the backing of their home crowd and any real match preparation. Going into the game having not played for 94 days, as opposed to the Bundesliga side with 5 recent league matches behind them proved too much of a mountain to scale.

Saarbrucken must now be content with their record run in which they became the first fourth-tier side ever to reach the semi-finals of the DFB Pokal, and their Canadian forward the highest assist-provider in one season of the competition for a player outside the top two tiers.

Leverkusen now advance to their fourth Final, and first since 2009, when they lost 0-1 to Werder Bremen in Berlin. They have lifted the DFB Pokal once previously in their history, 27 years ago, when a solitary goal separated them from Hertha Berlin II’s.

The second semi-final takes place tomorrow at Munich’s Allianz Arena between Alphonso Davies’ Bayern and Eintracht Frankfurt. The sides last met in the competition in the 2018 decider, Eintracht running out winners by 3-1 in Berlin.

Each final for the past 35 years has attracted crowds of over 70,000 to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium. The chances of that happening this season are slim to none however with the decider scheduled for 4 July.

Should Bayern go all the way and win the competition, Alphonso Davies (if selected) will become the second Canadian to win the DFB Pokal after Paul Stalteri (with Werder Bremen in 2004).*

(* Note: Footballing nationality for Owen Hargreaves, who won the competition three times, is English)

FC Bayern Muenchen - Training Session
Shooting for the final... Alphonso Davies is bidding to become the first Canadian winner of the DFB Pokal since Paul Stalteri 16 years ago, and only the second in history.
Photo by M. Donato/FC Bayern via Getty Images