Due to be played today are the finals of many of Europe’s domestic cup competitions.
In Germany & Italy, Bayern Munich & Juventus respectively, are each aiming to secure domestic doubles. PSG have the opportunity to clinch a second successive French domestic treble, whilst Manchester United aim to win their first piece of silverware under Louis Van Gaal.
All of the five finals have the potential to be highly entertaining, closely contested affairs, although there is a favourite in each, as identified in the following previews.
Coupe de France – PSG v Marseille – Zlatan Ibrahimovic is set to play his final game for PSG as the Parisian side will aim to clinch a second successive domestic treble when they face Marseille in the Coupe de France final. The Swede – who is PSG’s record goal scorer – has already scored three times against Marseille in the league this season, to help his side to a pair of 2-1 victories over their final opponents, who overcame Sochaux in the semi-finals, whilst PSG beat Lorient. Although Marseille are the leading all time winners of the Coupe de France with ten titles, victory for PSG would match that haul and win the trophy for a second year running, after Edison Cavani scored the only goal of last year’s final as Laurent Blanc’s side defeated Auxerre 1-0.
As vital to PSG’s prospects for victory as Ibrahimovic is, equally important to Marseille’s chances of recording a surprise win is their in-demand Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi.
DFB Pokal – Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund – At the Olympic Stadium in Berlin, Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich meet Borussia Dortmund in the DFB Pokal final, as Pep Guardiola aims to end his reign as manager of the Bavarian giants with a win to secure a league and cup double. Ironically Dortmund achieved just that in 2012, when managed by Jurgen Klopp, as they beat Bayern 5-2 in that year’s final. The fierce rivals also contested the 2014 with Bayern lifting the cup virtue of winning 2-0 after extra time.
Whilst Bayern reached the final courtesy of a semi-final win over Werder Bremen, Dortmund did so by sweeping aside Wolfsburg.
Just as the final marks the end of Guardiola’s Bayern career, it will be the last time Matt Hummels plays a competitive game for Dortmund as the German international’s transfer to Munich has already been confirmed. Nevertheless Hummels is determined to help Dortmund overcome his future employers. “I will give it everything I’ve got to go home with the cup.”
In switching to Bayern, Hummels is set to follow the path taken by former Dortmund teammates Robert Lewandowski and Mario Gotze, the latter of whom will not feature for Guardiola’s team, due to being sidelined with a rib injury.
Coppa Italia – Juventus v AC Milan – At the Stadio Olympico in Rome, Juventus will aim to become the first side to complete an Italian domestic double for two consecutive years when they face AC Milan in the Coppa Italia final. The Turin giants, managed by former Milan manager Max Allegri, have won Serie A for the fifth year in a row and now turn their attention to winning a second successive Coppa Italia after beating Lazio 2-1 in last year’s final.
In contrast to Juve enjoying great domestic success over the past five years, Milan have stuttered and failed to win a single trophy during the same stretch. Should Christian Brocchi’s side manage to end that barren spell and win a first piece silverware since 2011, that would help to avenge a disappointing 7th place finish in Serie A, whilst securing direct qualification to European competition for next season.
The team that Brocchi fields to try to achieve that may be without first choice full backs, Ignazio Abate and Luca Antonelli, as there is a doubt over the fitness of both players.
Allegri similarly has team selection worries with which to contend. Sami Khedira, Martin Caceres & Claudio Marchisio are out injured, whilst Leonardo Bonucci is suspended.
The stage is set for an intriguing encounter between Italy’s two most successful sides, as Juve seek to add to a haul of 60 trophies, whilst Milan will try to add to their 33 domestic titles.
FA Cup Final – Manchester United v Crystal Palace – To be played at Wembley between Manchester United and Crystal Palace, is the final of the oldest football association cup.
Manchester United last won the competition in 2004, whilst their final opponents have never lifted the trophy.
The game is a repeat of the 1990 final, which went to a replay. After a 3-3 draw, United overcame Palace 1-0.
Louis Van Gaal is aiming to lead United to their first piece of silverware since Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, which would help to offset the disappointment of the club failing to qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Meanwhile under the guidance of Alan Pardew, Palace comfortably retained their Premier League status by finishing in 15th place and reached the final after beating Watford 2-1 in the Semi-Final, whilst United overcame Everton by the same score line after extra time.
Former Manchester United winger Wilfried Zaha is set to return for Palace after a three game absence due to injury, with United welcoming back Matteo Darmian, Morgan Schneiderlin, Marcos Rojo and Marouane Fellaini. The giant Belgian scored in United’s semi-final win and should he play, is likely to engage in a fierce battle with his Palace counterpart Miles Jedinak.
Just as the goals of Connor Wickham are vital to Palace, so too are those of Marcus Rashford for United, with each player set to spearhead the attack’s of their respective team’s.