The tension was palpable at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany on Saturday as Bayern Munich and VfB Stuttgart set to face each other in the 2013 DFB Pokal Final. Bayern took what appeared to be a commanding lead halfway through the second half, but a late Stuttgart surge had the Bavarians holding on until the very last seconds. In the end, Bayern walked away from Berlin with the Pokal and completed the first ever treble in the history of German football.
With the Bundesliga and the Champions League trophies already in the cabinet, Jupp Heynckes' swansong as Bayern's manager would give him the opportunity to do something that no other manager had done in the club's magnificent history. For all of the trophies that they've won over the years, Bayern had never managed to win all of them in one season. Depth was built in the summer to aid the cause, but injuries (Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos) and ridiculous national federations (Dante and Luiz Gustavo) left the Bavarians without three starters and a key reserve.
While the first opportunity of the match fell to the feet of Arjen Robben, Stuttgart were on the front foot early. They did well to challenge the Bayern centerback pairing of Jerome Boateng and Daniel Van Buyten - neither first choice - with Vedad Ibisevic constantly occupying one of the two. This allowed Alexandru Maxim a lot of space to operate underneath, and the midfielder nearly gave the hosts the lead but failed to hit the target from close range.
Manuel Neuer and Sven Ulreich both made massive saves to keep the match scoreless within minutes of each other. Neuer made a fantastic double save to prevent an own goal from Bastian Schweinsteiger and then slapped the ball off the line when Georg Niedermeier tried to put in the rebound. Down at the other end of the field, Ulreich made himself big to stonewall David Alaba during a one on one after the left back broke free through the Stuttgart defense.
Around the half hour mark, Robben was brought down in the penalty area by Serder Tasci. While replays showed that Tasci did kick Robben's legs out from under him, the referee waved for play continue, and Bayern's shouts for a penalty went unheard. Well, they went unheard for seven minutes. In the 37th minute, the referee whistled Stuttgart's Ibrahima Traore for a penalty after the Ivorian brought down Philipp Lahm just inside the penalty area. The ball was given to Thomas Müller, and the midfielder shot left while Ulreich dove right. Bayern had their 1-0 lead.
The first half of the second half belonged to Mario Gomez. The forward, rumored to be possibly on his way out of Munich this summer, made sure that he would be remembered. Just minutes into the second half, Gomez bundled in a low cross from Lahm to give Bayern the 2-0 lead. Then, in the 60th minute, Gomez finished a cross from Müller to make it 3-0. Gomez was then subbed off to a standing ovation from the Bayern supporters and left Bayern with their fingertips on the Pokal.
While the first part of the second half belonged to Gomez, the second half surely belonged to Stuttgart's Martin Harnik. With his side seemingly dead in the water, Harnik refused to go quietly and dragged Stuttgart back into the match with two goals. The first was a powerful header off a Gotoku Sakai cross to the far corner of the goal out of the reach of a leaping Neuer.
Then, with only ten minutes remaining, Harnik made it 2-3. Shinji Okazaki shot off the post out of the reach of a diving Neuer. The rebound fell to Harnik, but Neuer saved his shot with a spectacular kick save. The rebound again fell to Harnik, however, this time he was able to beat Neuer thanks to a slight deflection from Schweinsteiger.
Stuttgart pressed in the remaining ten minutes, but Bayern were able to keep them at bay. The referee blew his final whistle, and FC Bayern Munich were declared champions of the 2012-13 DFB Pokal.