A history of Der Klassiker

Sokratis of Dortmund (R) challenges Mario Goetze of Bayern Muenchen
© Getty Images

The match-going public have been treated to a host of thoroughly memorable matches between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in recent years, including the final of Europe's premier club competition.

The rivalry goes back to the start of the Bundesliga, but has intensified in recent years. After the Westphalia outfit won the league in 2002, they were subsequently obliged to unload a string of stars in the face of a severe financial crisis, forcing the club to rely heavily on a crop of up-and-coming youngsters. This change of philosophy saw the board officially rein in their loftier ambitions for a time, and bore fruit with title wins in 2011 and 2012 that broke Bayern Munich's stranglehold on the German top flight.

The first ever top-flight meeting in 1965/66 ended in a win for Dortmund, Franz Beckenbauer missing a penalty and Reinhold Wosab's brace taking the points from the Grünwalder Stadion back to Westphalia.

The rivalry between the clubs has now come back to the peak of the mid- to late-1990s, when the mind games played ahead of each fixture became the stuff of legend. Dortmund held the upper hand in 1995 and 1996 under coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who would later guide Bayern to a sparkling array of silverware. Borussia claimed the title in those two seasons, with Bayern finishing sixth and second respectively.

The Bavarians regained the trophy in 1997 with Dortmund in third, before the men in red rattled up a hat-trick of title triumphs in 1999, 2000 and 2001, Borussia trailing in their wake back in fourth, 11th and third place respectively. Dortmund struck back to top the Bundesliga in 2002 with Bayern in third, but the situation was reversed a year later and Munich continued to set the standard until those back-to-back Bundesliga victories in 2011 and 2012.

Unforgettable encountersThe clubs have faced off twice in European competition, the first a 1997/8 UEFA Champions League quarter-final showdown. The first leg in Munich ended goalless, with the same score after 90 minutes in the return. Switzerland legend Stephane Chapuisat fired the extra-time goal to see his side through to the next round, where Borussia fell to eventual winners Real Madrid.

The second was the most famous in recent memory, the 2013 Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. A tense first half gave way to a reasonably open second period, with Mario Mandzukic's opener levelled by an Ilkay Gundogan penalty. The last word went to Arjen Robben, who sealed the victory in dramatic fashion with an iconic last minute winner.

Older fans tend to nurture stronger memories of a string of fiercely contested Bundesliga encounters. The meeting on matchday 24 in 1998-9 is a case in point, with Dortmund pursuing a UEFA Champions League qualifying place and Bayern in contention for the title.

"That was something special back then," former BVB striker Heiko Herrlich recalls. "You're always totally up for it against Munich. It was a pretty hostile atmosphere." In front of their home crowd, Dortmund led 2-0 with Bayern defender Sammy Kuffour having already been sent for an early bath, when visiting keeper Oliver Kahn launched an astonishing Dracula-style assault on Herrlich's throat following a seemingly innocuous aerial challenge.

"He was trying to wake his team up," Herrlich commented with a wry smile afterwards. "And it worked too. We had an extra man, but we conceded two goals and it ended 2-2. You get that kind of thing in football." The fixture has often featured sendings off and yellow cards aplenty too. The 1-1 draw in 2000-2001 saw a total of three players given their marching orders and no fewer than 12 go in the book.

The stirring combination of crunching tackles and a seething atmosphere has often been complemented by a rain of goals. Bayern have been in cracking form on home turf in recent years, winning 4-0 in 1997-8, 6-2 in 2000-2001, and by a thumping 5-0 margin in 2004-5.

The high profile transfers of Mario Gotze and Robert Lewandowski from Dortmund to Bayern helped add spice to an already tasty clash. ​Der Klassiker​, as it is known in Germany, now draws the attention of the footballing world.

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