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Der Klassiker: The biggest game in the race to the Bundesliga crown

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The Touchline Sports - Der Klassiker: The biggest game in the race to the Bundesliga crown

On Saturday, Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München will meet again in one of the biggest fixtures in world football – ‘Der Klassiker’. With these two juggernauts of German football consistently competing for the Meisterschale in recent years, the game always promises to be an exciting affair. This year, only one point stands between FC Bayern in the top spot and second-placed Dortmund. This will not only be a prestigious match between two of Germany’s biggest teams, it could also prove to be an early but important moment in the race for the title.

The history of ‘Der Klassiker’

  • As two giants of German and European football, the games between FC Bayern

München and Borussia Dortmund have always been a special feature in the Bundesliga calendar. The very first meeting of both teams in the Bundesliga took place in 1965-66 and ended in a 2-0 victory for Borussia Dortmund.

  • The label ‘Der Klassiker’, however, is a more recent addition. Whilst FC Bayern have celebrated many Bundesliga titles over the years since joining the Bundesliga in 1965, BVB were rarely contenders for the Meisterschale. However, that changed in the 1990s, when Dortmund began to climb up the table under legendary coach Ottmar Hitzfeld.
  • In 1994-95, the Black and Yellows claimed their first Bundesliga title. The following years saw many legendary duels between the two teams. Bayern and Dortmund also met in the UEFA Champions League in 1997-98 – this was the first time in the competition’s history that two clubs from the same country had faced each other.
  • In six seasons under Ottmar Hitzfeld at Dortmund, the two teams had been battling for Bundesliga dominance, but at the end of 1996-97, he stepped down as BVB coach. One year later, Hitzfeld made his move to FC Bayern, where he was able to establish a new era at the club – winning four Bundesliga titles, two DFB Cups and the 2000-2001 UEFA Champions League.
  • Dortmund were able to claim another title in 2001-02 under new coach and former player Matthias Sammer, but the team suddenly began to struggle when BVB were at the brink of financial collapse. The impact was felt on the pitch, and it took until the 2010s until they could recover.
  • Under Jürgen Klopp, another Dortmund legend, BVB’s style of play, combined with excellent signings such as Robert Lewandowski and Shinji Kagawa, propelled BVB to the summit of German football. Klopp’s management pushed ‘Der Klassiker’ to the next level. On Bayern’s side, coaches such as Louis van Gaal and Jupp Heynckes also made great progress and ‘Der Klassiker’ was recognised globally as a matchup of two of Europe’s strongest clubs.
  • In 2010-11 and 2011-12, BVB won back-to-back titles. In the following season, Bayern were keen to fight back. Having secured the Meisterschale in 2012-13, they were also in the final of both the UEFA Champions League and DFB Cup and finally had their eyes on the treble. In the Champions League Final, the biggest stage of club football, they faced Borussia Dortmund of all teams – truly taking ‘Der Klassiker’ to the world stage. In one of the most breath-taking finals in the history of the competition, Bayern won and later completed their treble in the DFB Cup Final.

‘Der Klassiker’ today: The clash of world-class strikers and top talent

  • This weekend’s ‘Der Klassiker’ is its 105th edition in the Bundesliga. Although Bayern are ahead with 50 wins compared to Dortmund’s 25, the record champions from Munich still have their lowest win rate against Dortmund in top-flight matches.
  • Going into Saturday’s game at Signal Iduna Park, FC Bayern München are on 31 points and only one ahead of their rivals. Thanks to wins against VfB Stuttgart and VfL Wolfsburg, Dortmund could take the lead in the top flight on Saturday.
  • Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München have some of the Bundesliga’s best players in their ranks. Robert Lewandowski, who was just named Striker of the Year at the Ballon d’Or ceremony, has certainly left his mark on ‘Der Klassiker’ in recent years. He managed to score in six ‘Der Klassiker’ games in a row between 2017 and 2019 – totalling 12 goals during that timeframe. He is also the player who has won the most Bayern-Dortmund fixtures in history. Of the 22 matches he has played, Lewandowski has triumphed 16 times.
  • On Dortmund’s side, Erling Haaland returned after injury just in time for the big game, playing and scoring in his first game since September last weekend. With Haaland back in action, ‘Der Klassiker’ is not only a match-up between the two top clubs in Germany but also the clash of the two best strikers in Germany and possibly even currently in the world – Robert Lewandowski and Erling Haaland.
  • The two teams are also putting young talent into the spotlight. Players such as Borussia Dortmund’s Jude Bellingham or FC Bayern München’s Jamal Musiala have taken podium positions in the ranking of the 2021 Kopa Trophy for the best U21 players. These are players capable of shaping ‘Der Klassiker’ for years to come.

The very best of ‘Der Klassiker’

  • Borussia Dortmund 4-4 FC Bayern München – MD 32, 1982-83
  • Borussia Dortmund 3-2 FC Bayern München – MD 11, 2018-19
  • Borussia Dortmund 5-2 FC Bayern München – DFB Cup Final, 2011-12
  • FC Bayern München 2-1 Borussia Dortmund – UEFA Champions League Final, 2012-13
  • Borussia Dortmund 2-3 FC Bayern München – MD 07, 2020-21
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