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DFB-Pokal | Final
May 25, 2024 at 7pm UK
Olympiastadion Berlin
Leverkusen logo

0 - 1
B. Leverkusen

Elvedi (86'), Klement (90+6')
FT(HT: 0-1)
Xhaka (17')
Odilon (3'), Hradecky (90+7')
Odilon (44')

Preview: Kaiserslautern vs. Bayer Leverkusen - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's DFB-Pokal clash between Kaiserslautern and Bayer Leverkusen, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

With their dreams of immortality and a terrific treble in the bin, Bayer Leverkusen at least seek to end an otherwise masterful 2023-24 season with a domestic double when they face Kaiserslautern in Saturday's DFB-Pokal final at the Olympiastadion.

Xabi Alonso's men lost their record-breaking unbeaten streak in Wednesday's Europa League final defeat to Atalanta BC, while their second-tier foes are gunning for their third DFB-Pokal title.

Match preview

Kaiserslautern's Marlon Ritter and Filip Stojilkovic celebrate with teammates after the match on April 2, 2024© Reuters

Formerly conquering the DFB-Pokal landscape in 1990 and 1996, before earning their fourth and most recent Bundesliga crown in the 1997-98 season, Kaiserslautern have since been slogging it out in the doldrums of the 2. Bundesliga but can now return to their former glories, for one night at least.

The Red Devils have only had to navigate their way past one top-flight opponent in the shape of Koln to reach the 2023-24 final, but their most notable scalp was that of third-tier Saarbrucken, who sent Bayern Munich packing en route to the semis before Kaiserslautern ended their fairytale run.

By putting two past Saarbrucken without reply, the second-tier outfit advanced to DFB-Pokal final number eight, but five of their previous seven showpiece matches have seen Kaiserslautern accept the runners-up prize, most recently to Bayern Munich in the 2002-03 edition.

An indifferent 2. Bundesliga campaign has not inspired much confidence within the Red Devils' ranks either, as they could only muster a 13th-placed finish with 39 points on the board from 34 matches, although their closing contest ended in a 5-0 slaughter of Eintracht Braunschweig.

That demolition marked a third triumph from four matches for Friedhelm Funkel's free-scoring side - who struck at least three goals in each of those triumphs and are on a 12-game scoring sequence across all tournaments, but a wounded Leverkusen are a dangerous proposition indeed.

Bayer Leverkusen coach Xabi Alonso before the match on April 18, 2024© Reuters

Fifty-one not out before their sojourn to Dublin for the Europa League final, Bayer Leverkusen were finally condemned to their first defeat in almost exactly 12 months at the Aviva Stadium, where the astonishing Ademola Lookman did what hundreds before him had failed to do.

Becoming the first African player to score two goals in a major UEFA final let alone a magnificent hat-trick, Lookman's tremendous treble ended Atalanta BC's 61-year wait for another major trophy, and as well as the Nigerian's electrifying display, La Dea played Leverkusen off the park throughout the 90 minutes.

Unable to escape the relentless Atalanta press, the Bundesliga champions will not end the season with three trophies and the Invincibles label emblazoned on their chest, but they can still proudly claim to have clinched the top-flight title without a single defeat and could now become just the sixth side in history to win the German domestic double.

Only Bayern, Borussia Dortmund, Werder Bremen, Koln and Schalke have also achieved Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal stardom in one season, and from their opening five matches in the latter tournament this season, Leverkusen struck an astounding 23 goals - at least three in every match.

Kaiserslautern's stint in the second tier means that recent meetings between the two outfits have been relatively rare, but Leverkusen emerged victorious in the 2014-15 DFB-Pokal last 16, prevailing 2-0 after extra time one year on from the Red Devils' 1-0 success in the 2013-14 quarter-finals. Sami Hyypia was at the Werkself helm that year, and now another erstwhile Liverpool man seeks to right their Dublin wrongs.

Kaiserslautern DFB-Pokal form:

Kaiserslautern form (all competitions):

Bayer Leverkusen DFB-Pokal form:

Bayer Leverkusen form (all competitions):

Team News

Bayer Leverkusen's Granit Xhaka reacts after Atalanta's Ademola Lookman scores their second goal on May 22, 2024© Reuters

Despite seeing red on the final day of the 2. Bundesliga season for violent conduct, Kaiserslautern defender Almamy Toure will serve his ban exclusively in league action, meaning that he is free to line up in Funkel's backline at the Olympiastadion.

However, top scorer Ragnar Ache - who struck 16 goals in the second tier in 2023-24 - is currently touch-and-go due to an Achilles concern, while calf victim Jan Elvedi - twin brother of Borussia Monchengladbach's Nico Elvedi - is in the same boat with a calf issue.

Long-term knee trio Ben Zolinski, Hendrick Zuck and Julian Niehues are all confined to the Kaiserslautern treatment room, but Funkel will be in good hands if the prolific Ache fails his late fitness test; playmaker Marlon Ritter struck a hat-trick in the five-goal dismantling of Braunschweig.

Leverkusen may have departed Dublin without their dignity intact, but Alonso seemingly did not lose any of his troops to injury, although a once-over will need to be conducted on all of his players amid the quick turnaround and lengthy trip home.

With the highly sought-after Florian Wirtz fit enough to start and play 81 minutes of the final, Leverkusen's medical room is currently empty, leaving Alonso spoiled for choice when it comes to possible alterations; an opportunity that the Spaniard should make the most of.

Both Victor Boniface and Patrik Schick will be vying to lead the line after only making the bench on Wednesday, while Robert Andrich, Nathan Tella and Odilon Kossounou should also benefit from some necessary rotation in all thirds of the Berlin field.

Kaiserslautern possible starting lineup:
Krahl; Toure, Tomiak, Kraus; Ronstadt, Raschl, Kaloc, Puchacz; Ritter; Ache, Hanslik

Bayer Leverkusen possible starting lineup:
Hradecky; Kossounou, Tah, Tapsoba; Frimpong, Andrich, Xhaka, Grimaldo; Tella, Wirtz; Boniface

SM words green background

We say: Kaiserslautern 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen

In spite of Leverkusen's continental failures, Kaiserslautern may have been fearing this exact scenario, as Alonso's troops have multiple mistakes to rectify in the DFB-Pokal final and are blessed with competent options for change in defence, midfield and indeed attack.

The Red Devils are sure to put up a good fight and can fall back on their penchant for finding the back of the net, but only to a degree, and we have full faith in Leverkusen to consign their Europa League misery to history and confirm their double-winners status.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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Group A

1 Germany Germany11003
2 Switzerland Switzerland11003
3 Hungary Hungary10010
4 Scotland flag Scotland10010

Group B

1 Spain Spain11003
2 Italy Italy11003
3 Albania national flag Albania10010
4 Croatia Croatia10010

Group C

1 Denmark Denmark10101
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3 England flag England00000
4 Serbia Serbia00000

Group D

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Group E

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3 Slovakia Slovakia00000
4 Ukraine Ukraine00000

Group F

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2 Georgia Georgia00000
3 Portugal Portugal00000
4 Turkey Turkey00000

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