“Der Klassiker”, a German word which has the direct definition of “the classic” is the name given to a game that has seen limitless pain for me. If you avidly watch football (and are part of the hellhole known as A-Level), you’d see Zaryab Nisar of A2 making vocal the fact that he indeed is a Bayern fan and his team is, indeed, the best in the world. You’d also see me every August with a hopeful look on my face, naively hoping that something would come from a season of signing yet another youth prospect termed the “next Messi”. Well, it seems as if my naivete got the better of me once again as the two sides clashed in early November and, once again, the result ended in favour of the Bavarian giants.
Historically both sides have had it very well from themselves with Bayern’s dominance being ever present. However, with what was a moment that could be only defined as awe-inspiring, Bayern Munchen saved Borussia Dortmund from bankruptcy. A moment of brilliance from the 8 times consecutive champions is what kept them on their feet.
What you reap is what you sow. Undoubtedly, there is no club that illustrates this phrase better than Bayern. After a decade of instability that saw winners from outside title challengers like Wolfsburg and Stuttgart, Bayern were predicted to face a decade of mediocrity with some league titles in between. What they didn’t know was that their act of kindness would have a change in the dynamic of their club. Up stepped Jurgen Klopp; A supposed overachiever at Mainz, “Kloppo” won black and yellow hearts, delivering back to back league titles, while transforming a centre-back partnership with the combined age of 70 to one which barely eclipsed 45 whilst not making any sacrifices on the level of talent. Widely regarded as their glory days, Borussia Dortmund had the likes of Aubameyang to warm the bench while Marco Reus, Mario Gotze and a certain Polish number 9 (who shall not be named) made their name. With a midfield of Ilkay Gundogan and a backline with Piszczek (yes,I needed autocorrect for that name) and Hummels, Dortmund tore the Bundesliga to shreds.
Rather enviously, Uli Hoeness looked at this team and saw how far from grace Bayern had fallen; this side- which, not too long ago, boasted legends like him, Gerd Muller, Oliver Kahn, Franz Beckanbeuer and Lothar Matthäus to name a few, – had become a shadow of its former self. Well, the turning point came but it came after Bayern’s biggest cup final loss against Dortmund, the klassiker ending in a 5-2 win for the boys in yellow. 2012, seemingly the beginning of a golden era for Dortmund, was the beginning of their end.
After a routine win against Friedburg backed by a Pokal, Borussia fans were singing the songs loud in the region of Revier, without a thought in the world of what lay next. “We are champions and you know it!” were the chants; oh, how wrong they were. 8 years. 8 long years, Bayern won and they didn’t stop for the world. Eight league titles, five DFB Pokals, five German Supercups, one Club World Cup, two UEFA Champions Leagues and two UEFA Super Cups. Unbelievable.
Two historic trebles and an underdog story like never before, the Bundesliga rivalry had more to it than just another classico; it had the romance of a former player coming back home to score; it had the high scoring games, and most importantly for us football fan, it delivered that heart wrenching look from Dortmund’s “Woodyinho” as the captain saw his Polish friend in the Bayern red and blue.
Now the word “pain” has become synonymous with Dortmund fans and rightfully so; as Bayern fans rejoice witnessing their team run riot in Europe game after game, Dortmund fans sit in utter horror as we get beaten by teams with no real credentials. Admittedly, we do see the comedic side of it. After seeing Hoffenhiam thrash Bayern 4-1, we were celebrating only to realize that our team had also lost to Ausburg. Expectedly, I had my brother, another Bayern fan (if there weren’t enough already), put the naivety of my hopefulness into the limelight, by outlining my “truly clown behaviour”.
From the outside looking in, you’d think that Der Klassiker is a piece of art, that it’s complete, and it is. Even as a fan of the underdogs I do find the clash entertaining, as it’s usually down to the wire and always has its heartbreaks. Funnily enough, it seems like Dortmund for me has become in reality what the club was meant to be; Bayern being the “older brother” and Dortmund being the younger brother- always ending up with the short end of the stick.