Reschedule everything that you have planned for this weekend as we have five domestic cup finals to look forward to. England, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, are all giving us a very good reason to settle down in front of the TV and enjoy some fantastic games.

FA Cup Final – Crystal Palace v Manchester United

Let’s make our first stop at Wembley, in London for the FA Cup Final, the world’s oldest football cup. The match is a repeat of the 1990 FA Cup Final between Crystal Palace and Manchester United. United won the Cup 1-0 after a replay.

Manchester United have won the FA Cup on eleven previous occasions and they are only one win away from equaling Arsenal’s record. United last played in the final in 2007, where they lost 1-0 after extra time to Chelsea. Their last victory in the competition was in 2004, a 3-0 win against Milwall at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. This is Louis van Gaal’s final chance to get his hand on some silverware after a much maligned campaign. It’s also worth mentioning that the only trophy that United have won since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure as manager, is the 2013 Community Shield.

Crystal Palace have only reached the FA Cup final once. This is in the aforementioned final which they lost after a replay. Palace have never won any major trophies and therefore the FA Cup presents an opportunity for their players to go down in the club’s history. It will also give the Londoners a route into Europe for the first time in their history.

Coup de France Final – Marseille v PSG

Our next stop takes us to the French capital and Saint-Denis where bitter rivals PSG and Marseille clash in the Coup de France. The two sides last met in the final in 2006 where the Parisians ran out 2-1 winners.

This will be Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last game for PSG and he will be aiming to lift one final trophy as the curtain comes down on his trophy laden career in the French capital. The Swede will looking to fire Laurent Blanc’s side to a second straight domestic treble which would send PSG level with Marseille as 10 time winners of the Coup de France.

Marseille haven’t won this competition for 27 years and this game presents the perfect opportunity for them to salvage their season. The club finished in 13th place, their lowest league position since 2000/01, and a win against their bitter rivals would put this disappointment behind them.

DFB-Pokal Final – Bayern Munich v Borussia Dortmund

We now cross the border into Germany and head to Berlin for the DFB-Pokal Final, where heavyweights Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund clash. There is huge motivation for both sides, not least because of the rivalry that has existed between them in recent years. Between them, Bayern and Dortmund have won the last six Bundesliga titles and the DFB-Pokal in three of the last four seasons. On many of those occasions they have gone head-to-head for the silverware.

This will also be Pep Guardiola’s final game in charge of the Bavarians before his move to Manchester City. Guardiola has guided Bayern to DFB-Pokal glory before and that was at the expense to Dortmund in 2014 when they won the domestic dobule. The Spaniard will be hoping to win one final piece of silverware and also Bayern’s 18th DFB-Pokal.

Dortmund will be hoping for a case of third time lucky as they lost both the 2014 and 2015 finals. This season they have been reinvigorated under Thomas Tuchel and in contrast to the two previous seasons, have pushed Bayern in the title race to the final two games of the season. They are now once again a domestic threat to Bayern and will be hoping to win their fourth DFB-Pokal title.

Coppa Italia Final – AC Milan v Juventus

We now travel south to the Italian peninsula and to the Stadio Olimpico in Rome for the 68th Coppa Italia Final, between Milan and Juventus. Whilst Juventus will be chasing a domestic double, Milan will be looking to salvage some pride after a disappointing season.

Milan have not won any silverware since the 2011 Supercoppa Italiana following their Serie A title in 2010-11, under the guidance of Massimiliano Allegri (who incidentally is now the manager of Juventus). Since then Milan have been in transition whilst Juventus have gone from strength-to-strength.

After winning their fifth consecutive Serie A title, Juventus are now aiming to win back-to-back doubles and their 11th Coppa Italia. The Bianconeri won last season’s Coppa Italia, which ended a 20 year wait since they last won the tournament. If they win it once again, they will join Inter (2005-2006 and 2010-2011) and Roma (2007-2008) as the only teams to win back-to-back cups in the 21st century.

Copa del Rey Final – Barcelona v Sevilla

Last but not least, we head to Spain and to the Vicente Calderón in Madrid for the Copa del Rey Final, where Sevilla face reigning champions, Barcelona. The last time these two teams met in a final, was the 2015 European Super Cup, which Barcelona won 5-4 after extra time.

Barcelona have previously played in 37 Copa del Rey finals, winning on a record 27 occasions. They are currently the reigning champions, having defeated Athletic Club in 2015. As well as looking to win back-to-back cups, they are also aiming to claim another domestic double after winning the league for the sixth time in eight years.

Sevilla are entering the game after winning the Europa League for the third successive year. This will be their seventh final, with their most recent appearance being in 2010, when they defeated Atlético Madrid 2-0. Sevilla have the chance to win both the Copa del Rey and Europa League double for the second time in their history, having achieved this feat in 2006/07.



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It has been a tough week for Wolfsburg. The story that Volkswagen had equipped 11 million of its diesel cars with manipulation software that could be used to cheat on emissions tests in the United States and the European Union has dominated recent news in Germany. In football there were also bad news for Volkswagen as their Werksteam (German for factory team) VfL Wolfsburg was trashed 5-1 by Bayern Munich.

With Wolfsburg’s dismal performance in Munich in mind perhaps it was just coincidence that Volkswagen’s CEO Martin Winterkorn stepped down just the day after VfL Wolfsburg’s nine minute meltdown in the Bavarian capital.

But while most of Germany’s press focused on Bayern’s striker Robert Lewandowski, whose five goals in nine minutes broke several Bundesliga records, the dismantling of VfL Wolfsburg at the hands of Bayern Munich’s striker Lewandowski was only worth page 2 coverage in Wolfsburg’s press digest. Even in the sport sections the crisis at Volkswagen dominated the news with some voices raising concerns on what impact Volkswagen’s current crisis could have on football.

After all Volkswagen’s former CEO Winterkorn was considered an avid football supporter, and the company sponsors several football projects not only in Germany but also around the world. In Germany aside from owning VfL Wolfsburg outright, Volkswagen’s daughter company Audi holds 8% per cent of Bayern Munich’s shares. Furthermore, Audi also owns 20% of the shares of the newly promoted FC Ingolstadt. In the Bundesliga Volkswagen is also an important sponsor at Schalke 04, and Werder Bremen, and furthermore the company also sponsors the second Bundesliga club Eintracht Braunschwieg, and lastly Volkswagen’s Think Blue initiative is the shirt sponsor of Munich’s second Bundesliga club TSV 1860. Lastly Volkswagen also sponsors the DFB Pokal (German Cup).

VfL Wolfsburg’s manager Klaus Allofs, however, does not believe that CEO Winterkorn’s departure will have a big effect on VfL’s ambition to become Germany’s new football power. “I am in constant contact with the management circle at Volkswagen, and we haven’t even discussed the current crisis at Volkswagen, and I don’t think we need to.” Allofs told Germany’s Kicker Magazine. Allofs further added that, “Volkswagen’s believes in the commitment to VfL Wolfsburg, and a crisis doesn’t mean that this commitment is questioned. We know the value that VfL has for Volkswagen [as a marketing vehicle], and I don’t think that value has changed now.”

Meanwhile, Prof. Dr. Hans-Gerhard Seeba a specialist on Germany’s car industry, and a former VW manager told 11Freunde that, “the current events will not affect VW football sponsoring commitments. After all Football sponsoring is an important part of the company’s corporate communication and marketing strategy. … VW is Germany’s largest company, and they will easily survive this current crisis. Therefore the company’s financial engagement in football will remain unquestioned. For the clubs the money from Volkswagen is important, but for Volkswagen the sums are merely peanuts — Volkswagen’s profit last year was €10 billion.” In fact the Volkswagen’s image “would be even further damaged if the company decided to end its sport sponsorship program.”

Financially Seeba’s assessment of the situation is good news for VfL Wolfsburg, but for Wolfsburg’s Brazilian dominated defence consisting of Naldo, Dante, and Luiz Gustavo — the last two were also involved Brazil’s 7-1 meltdown against Germany at the 2014 World Cup — the fact that Wolfsburg’s press may switch their attention back to events on the field could also mean uncomfortable days ahead, as the trio may soon be asked how to avoid Brazilian style debacles in the future.

About the author – Manuel Veth

Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and Editor in Chief @FutbolgradLive and writes about the economics and politics of Soviet and post-Soviet football. You can find his work at

twitter: @homosovieticus


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