Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund: Germany's Fabricated Derby That Crowns Bundesliga Champions


Der Klassiker is part of 90min's 50 Biggest Derbies in the World Series

It might be called Der Klassiker, but Bayern Munich's rivalry with Borussia Dortmund is largely a derby which has been fabricated over the years.

They're both the biggest and most successful teams in the Bundesliga. But unlike Dortmund's Revierderby or the Berlin derby, Der Klassiker didn't become one of European football's most anticipated games due to its geography.

In fact, in a historical sense, both teams couldn't come from more different beginnings.

Bavaria, and more specifically Munich, is one of the richest places in Germany, while Borussia Dortmund's history is embedded in a much more humble, working-class area of the country.

That's not to say Germany's Rekordmeister haven't had rivalries with clubs in the north-west. In the Bundesliga's infancy in the 1970s, it was Borussia Mönchengladbach who were battling Bayern Munich for the top spot in the league.

But 50 years later, it's Borussia Dortmund who make up the Bundesliga's very own Clásico.

It's difficult to pinpoint exactly when this 'derby' really started to become mainstream. But it took hold in the 1990s, when Borussia Dortmund won their first modern Bundesliga title and, in 1997, their first-ever Champions League.

Out of the 20 Bundesliga champions since the turn of the millennium, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have shared 17 between them, with Werder Bremen, Stuttgart and Wolfsburg acting as the anomaly champions in Germany.

That consistency at the top of the table has obviously played into Der Klassiker becoming what it is today - the same is true of Spain's Clásico - and while both sides certainly aren't friendly with each other, any animosity between them is largely overblown.

In living memory, Borussia Dortmund have come close to going out of business on more than one occasion. Most recently in the early 2000s, Bayern Munich actually gave their rivals in the north-west a €2m loan to stop them going out of business.

Given the size of Dortmund's debts, Bayern Munich's loan wasn't all that significant. But it also wasn't a gesture that's made between rivals. That's not to say both clubs are friendly with each other, however. You only need to watch a Klassiker to know that isn't the case.

Rather than rivals, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund can perhaps best be described as sparring partners. They're both primarily focused on their own success, but in the same breath, they use each other to improve their skills.

Like it or not, the Bundesliga's two superclubs need each other.

That first became evident in the 90s. Although Borussia Dortmund had lifted the last German title before the Bundesliga's inception in 1964, they had to wait until 1995 for their next - adding another the following season.

That spurred Bayern Munich into action. The Bavarians lifted four of the next five league titles - Kaiserslautern claimed the other - before Borussia Dortmund had their hands on the Meisterschale once again in 2002.

It wasn't a sign of things to come, though. Borussia Dortmund would go on a nine-year spell without the league title after their success in 2002, letting Bayern Munich win five before Jürgen Klopp moulded the Black and Yellows back into title winners.

When heavy metal football came to Dortmund, it wasn't just one Bundesliga title that followed. It was two. As well as a DFB-Pokal in the 2011/12 season, winning the double for the first time in their history.

It was a two-year spell which shook the foundations of Germany football, but Bayern Munich followed that up with their best-ever season, and one of the most historic campaigns any team has enjoyed throughout history.

The Bavarians won the treble under Jupp Heynckes, even clinching the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.

It didn't end their either. Since Dortmund's last league title, Bayern Munich have won the last seven Bundesliga trophies and four DFB-Pokals.

Even though the term 'Der Klassiker' might be a fairly new creation, both sides have a competitive history which goes right back to the 1960s.

Bayern Munich weren't part of the first-ever Bundesliga season, but when they eventually made it to the top flight in 1965, it was Borussia Dortmund who came out on top in both Klassiker matches - the Black and Yellows finished the campaign in second place, with their Bavarian rivals in third.

FC Hollywood, as they would come to be known some years later, didn't do the double over Borussia Dortmund until the 1968/69 season. It was the year Bayern Munich won their first Bundesliga title too, also beating Schalke in the cup final to win the first double of the modern era.

In the years that followed, Borussia Dortmund didn't enjoy much success against Bayern Munich. They even lost in the Bavarian's biggest ever win - an 11-1 drubbing at the Grünwalder Stadion, which is now the home of Bayern's second team, where Gerd Müller scored four.

But fast-forward to today and Der Klassiker is hyped up as a title-deciding game. In truth, it's rarely come that close during Bayern Munich's most recent era of dominance, but Germany's showpiece is always one of the most anticipated games on European football's calendar.

Truly, a classic fixture.

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