All around the world rivalries inject passion and pressure into soccer, but at the highest level, they can make all the difference. ‘El Clasico’, ‘the Merseyside Derby’, ‘the Old Firm Derby’, and ‘Der Klassiker’. These are some of the biggest games in the world, and once again Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich looks to be a title-deciding matchup.
The two German giants have met a total of 131 times, with Bayern Munich winning 67, Borussia Dortmund winning 32, and 30 ending in a draw. Most of these meetings have come in the domestic Bundesliga campaign, but they have met three times outside of Germany.
A slightly ‘younger’ rivalry when compared to other big European games, their first official meeting wasn’t until 1965. It wasn’t until the 1990’s however when Dortmund started winning titles both domestically and internationally that the rivalry between the two clubs started to truly heat up.
A year after lifting their first and only Champions League trophy, Dortmund knocked Bayern out of the 1998 edition in the quarter-finals. They wouldn’t meet again in Europe’s top competition until 2013, in the final.
Bayern was seeking revenge after losing the 2012 final at home, beating everyone on their way to redemption. The most notable win was their semi-final demolishing of a prime FC Barcelona 7-0 over two legs.
Dortmund were the clear underdogs, having miraculously beaten Real Madrid 5-2 over two legs with a 4-goal haul from Robert Lewandowski.
The final was back and forth until Arjen Robben netted the winner for Bayern in the dying moments of the game, securing a treble and sending Dortmund packing.
Bayern have won the last 10 German league titles, and most of their campaigns saw a massive boost after beating their rivals. Most notably of late, the 2018/19 season ended with only two points separating the two sides.
Dortmund won the first matchup that season 3-2 but ended up falling in the second meeting 5-0. Come the final matchday and the Bavarians lifting the trophy, one game made all the difference.
Bayern has 32 Bundesliga titles to their name, whereas Dortmund only have eight. Prior to Bayern’s domestic dominance, Dortmund were consistently the other big team constantly fighting for the title. Bayern has been and continues to be the biggest team in Germany, but the atmosphere and pressure of a game against Dortmund remain unmatched,
Unlike most top rivalries, there is mutual respect amongst the clubs that allow for player transfers between them much more often than with other rival clubs.
Mats Hummels was a Bayern Munich youth product before making the switch to Dortmund in 2009 for four-and-a-half million dollars. After seven years at the Signal Iduna Park, he moved back to the ‘record champions’ in 2016 for nearly 40 million dollars. Once again in 2019, for around 33 million dollars he moved back to Borussia Dortmund, where he still plays today.
As one of the hottest young prospects on the planet, Mario Gotze made the switch from yellow to red in 2014 for a reported 40 million dollars. A year later Robert Lewandowski followed him on a free transfer.
In 2016 Sebastion Rode moved from Munich to Dortmund alongside Mario Gotze, who made a return to his boyhood club.
Most recently central defender Niklas Sule left Bayern for Dortmund in a free transfer last summer.
Over the last four or five years Dortmund have been building themselves back up, prioritizing youth. Players like Jadon Sancho, Erling Haaland, Christian Pulisic, Ousmane Dembele, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have all come and gone, but none of them have been able to help leapfrog Bayern.
Bayern continues to dominate against most of their German opposition, won a treble in 2020, and is currently in the Champions League semi-finals.
In Germany, the top of the league is currently separated by only a single point, with Dortmund enjoying a rare moment in 1st. With the two teams meeting again following the international break, the title race is currently at its peak.
Both teams still have eight more league games to play after their matchup, but with the point tally so close and both teams in incredible form, ‘Der Klassiker’ could be crucial for either side.
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