There has, for some time, been a deal of irritation in parts of Germany’s football-following community over the international marketing of Bayern Munich’s clashes with Borussia Dortmund as Der Klassiker. The epithet can’t truly pretend to be equivalent to its Spanish – or even French – counterpart, being more a way of framing Bayern versus current next best than reference to some historical struggle.
That Dortmund have grown into their role in the would-be rivalry is a post-2013 Champions League construct, a natural fit with BVB’s own global appeal and their consistent pitching up just shy of throwing distance from Bayern’s windows. What repercussions would it have, though, if they were no longer Bayern’s greatest irritant?
If it was going to be anyone else, it was always going to be Leipzig. A club that Dortmund see themselves as a diametric opposite to – and accordingly, one might argue, the confrontations between Leipzig and BVB are laced with considerably more spice that anything involving Bayern – have had their gaze fixed firmly skyward ever since promotion in 2016, and even the haters have long since been forced to accept it’s a residency, rather than just a stop for lunch, at the top table. Even some of those not instinctively predisposed to tolerating the Leipzig model must admit that they are moving gently towards making inroads into the current hegemony. Bayern had failed to score in only two of their previous 70 matches going into this latest meeting. The opponents on those two occasions? Leipzig.
Saturday’s 3-3 Allianz Arena draw between the pair was perhaps not, then, the expected recipe of stopping the Rekordmeister but was more than a thrilling match in itself. It was a suggestion that the Bundesliga might contain some jeopardy going forward into winter and spring, a prospect that has felt less likely given the stumbles of Lucien Favre’s side in recent weeks. Continue reading