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Bayern v Dortmund: The history of Der Klassiker explained

A symbolic showing off the rivalry between the two clubs
A symbolic showing off the rivalry between the two clubs
Ben Roberts
Modified 04 Apr 2019

Der Klassiker is essentially the "German Clasico" which features Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. Equivalents of these rivalries can be found elsewhere, too -- in the Premier League, you have Manchester City versus Manchester United and in La Liga, you have Barcelona versus Real Madrid.

Ever since the Bundesliga was first established back in 1963, 21 of the 24 Bundesliga titles have been won by either Bayern Munich or Borussia Dortmund, a clear illustration of their dominance in the division.

However, the rivalry between the two clubs was relatively tame for a long time until it began to grow fierce during the 1990s. Dortmund had started to make a lot of progress with regards to the quality in their squad and were finally strong enough to challenge Munich for the Bundesliga title, which they won twice in a row (1994/95 season and 1995/96 season).

The momentum of the rivalry was given a big push after an incident in 1996 when Bayern captain Lothar Matthaus accused Dortmund midfielder Andreas Moller of being a 'crybaby', wiping imaginary tears from his face.

Moller reacted by slapping Matthaus, sparking fury from both sets of fans within the stadium who roared encouragement to their respective players as they looked set to fight.

Further adding to Bayern's dismay that season was when Borussia Dortmund won the 1997 UEFA Champions League Final at the Olympiastadion - Bayern's home ground.

The following season (1998/99), tempers flared yet again as in their second meeting Bayern's goalkeeper Oliver Kahn attempted a flying kung-fu kick at Chapuisat, before later appearing to bite Heiko Herrlich's ear.

Another wild incident would occur not long after when the two teams met in 2001 for a game that was notable for 10 yellow cards and three reds being shown, which remains to this day a record for Bundesliga indiscipline.

In 2004, though, Borussia Dortmund fell heavily into debt and were facing bankruptcy, but a €2m loan from supposed rivals Bayern Munich would save the club. This caused many people at the time to ridicule the rivalry, with some going as far as to say that it was all an act - a show put on for entertainment.


For a long time after that, Der Klassiker's popularity diminished significantly, especially since Dortmund were too weak to put up much of a challenge when the pair met. But by 2010, Dortmund had been revitalised. Their squad had been entirely rebuilt and featured the likes of Mats Hummels, Mario Gotze, Shinji Kagawa and Robert Lewandowski.

The four horsemen would lead BVB to back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012 and it was the first time any club other than Bayern had achieved that feat since Dortmund in the mid-1990s.

Dortmund then managed the first double in their history by beating Bayern 5-2 in the 2012 DFB-Pokal Final, a game which featured a Lewandowski hat-trick and was also their fifth consecutive win over the opponents.

Nowadays, both squads are very strong, as shown by how slim the margins are between the pair in the race for the Bundesliga title. Munich may have bought world class players from around the globe, but Dortmund have developed and enhanced youth talent to a point where they could genuinely be considered on par with the stars at Bayern.

Which side will win at the weekend is anyone's guess -- but one thing's for sure, it's going to be close.

Published 04 Apr 2019, 01:29 IST
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