dAniel Thioune had thought carefully before what would probably be his most important game as coach of Fortuna Düsseldorf. Using probability calculations, he had determined that the usual calculation of the outsiders in the tournament semifinals DFB Cup It was not valid given Leverkusen's football superiority. The idea that “as a second division team you lose nine out of every ten games” is inappropriate in this case, he announced.

Nowadays it is more like this: “We would probably lose 99 out of 100 games”, but that did not stop him from dreaming of winning the cup: “At some point I became a professional footballer and the chances of achieving it were even smaller”, was his thought. To once again achieve what seemed impossible, he devised a brave, in retrospect one could even say bold, strategy. Because after only 20 minutes he was left on the sidelines and had to realize that his plan had failed miserably.

His team had just been countered after a naive pressure and Nadiem Amiri had put the lead 2-0. Only fantasists now believed in fortune. Jeremie Frimpong scored the first goal after six minutes and in the end the confident Bundesliga leaders comfortably beat the promotion hopefuls from the neighboring city 4-0.

The dream of the treble is still alive and Düsseldorf can take solace in the fact that they are one of the many teams that collapsed under Leverkusen's fabulous combined football.

Everything fits in Leverkusen

It can be debated whether it is better to hunker down deep in your field against this ball-circulating machine or whether a bolder approach offers a greater chance of success. Both variants have already been tested throughout the season and both have already caused problems for Leverkusen.

But that night everything fell into place Leverkusen: The ball was running as usual and in the 35th minute Düsseldorf goalkeeper Florian Kastenmeier made a terrible mistake in the build-up to the match. Three passes later, Florian Wirtz had no problems scoring the third goal for Bayer 04.

Fortuna also had good chances afterwards; First of all, Andre Hoffmann, who shot inaccurately from seven meters (45th), and the newly strong Christos Tzolis also had a good chance. But Leverkusen's superiority was overwhelming overall.

Florian Wirtz is once again on the list of Leverkusen's top scorers.

Florian Wirtz is once again on the list of Leverkusen's top scorers.

Image: dpa

This may also be due to Düsseldorf's important midfielder Ao Tanaka being briefly injured, but the presence of the Japanese on the pitch probably wouldn't have done much to change this one-sided game. After the break, the main thing for Düsseldorf was to avoid being humiliated so that his self-confidence would not suffer lasting damage.

Such a cup final experience, especially against eye-level rival Kaiserslautern, would have been nice. But at least from the point of view of the club's management, the fight for promotion to the Bundesliga is the most important challenge. However, at the end of the evening the exact effect of this defeat was not clear, because no Dusseldorf will quickly forget a 4-0 victory with such a lack of chances.

After a video assistant check, Wirtz also converted a penalty to make it 4-0 (60th), and the crowd cheered for the fifth time when Victor Boniface came on as a substitute. The Nigerian was one of the heroes of the first half of the season, but had to undergo adductor surgery during the winter holidays. He now returned, but they did not allow him to celebrate another goal.

Neutral spectators may be a little sad that these brilliant Leverkusen players are rarely challenged, but that won't matter to coach Alonso and his players. Especially since old friends of the official club often remember the legendary spring weeks of 2002, when a Leverkusen team thrilled all of Europe and several titles were within reach.

In retrospect, one of the reasons why Michael Ballack's team was left without a trophy at the time was the fact that the intense workload in three competitions was too high. This danger is less in the current season because the rivals outside the Bundesliga are Qarabag, Molde, Dusseldorf and now in the DFB Cup final they will be called Kaiserslautern instead of FC Arsenal, Juventus Turin and Schalke 04.


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