Getting to Know the Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund Der Klassiker

Carter Lawson · Profile
Getting to Know the Bayern Munich-Borussia Dortmund Der Klassiker

The Der Klassiker is often one of the most exciting and influential games of the German Bundesliga season, with the winner gaining a significant advantage in the Bundesliga table.

First, we’ll start with a very brief history of each club. In case you didn’t know, Der Klassiker means “the classic” in German and refers to any game played between these two clubs.

Bayern ultras in a game at Allianz Arena

Bayern Munich History

Founded in 1900, Bayern Munich started winning team trophies right from the beginning. They joined the newly formed Kreisliga, the first regional Bavarian league, in 1910-11 and claimed top honors that initial season. By 1920, it had over 700 members, and was the largest football club in Munich.

The first national trophy claimed was in 1932, the German championship, after defeating Frankfurt in the final 2-0.

The rise of Adolf Hitler put an abrupt end to Bayern Munich’s development, as the club president and coach were both Jewish and left the country. The club struggled for years and was in financial trouble and on the verge of bankruptcy at the end of the 1950s.

The Bundesliga was formed in 1963, but Bayern were not promoted until 1965. In that initial season, they finished third in the league but won the domestic cup, thus qualifying for (and winning) the following year’s European Winner’s Cup. They achieved the first league title in 1969.

Since 1970, Bayern Munich have captured 31 Bundesliga titles, 16 in the DFB-Pokal Cup, 10 German Super Cups, and six Champions League titles in addition to other European and worldwide awards.

2022-23 SEASON: 1st in Bundesliga (11th title in a row), DFB-Pokal quarterfinal, UEFA Champions League quarterfinal

2023–24 SEASON: Bundesliga (since 1965), UEFA Champions League

Borussia Dortmund History

Founded in 1909, the club played in regional leagues under slightly different names until 1949, when they became Ballspiel-Verein (Sports Club) Borussia. This explains the BVB in the club crest. As for the word Borussia, it comes from an old Latin word for Prussia, a kingdom which included pieces of today’s Germany, Poland, Lithuania and Russia. So it’s kind of patriotic to use this name, which Dortmund shares with Borussia Monchengladbach and some smaller German clubs.

Ultras Members Can Read Our Full Borussia Dortmund Profile

Dortmund won their first national championships in 1956 and 1957, won a couple more trophies in the 1960s, then were briefly relegated amid financial troubles in the 1970s. The golden years came in the 1990s, with Bundesliga titles in 1995 and 1996, then their only European Cup (now UEFA Champions League) win, 3-1 in the final over holders Juventus in Munich.

They made it back to such levels starting about 10 years ago, winning the league in 2011 and a league/cup double in 2012, all under manager Jurgen Klopp. Still, there was always Bayern to deal with; BVB lost to them in the 2013 Champions League Final at Wembley, then lost star striker Robert Lewandowski to them, as well. Since then, they’ve won two more German Cups, lost three more finals (two to Bayern), lost Klopp to Liverpool, and had seven second-place league campaigns — all in seasons where Bayern won the league. The worst of those was in the 2023-23, when all they had to do on the last day was beat ninth-place Mainz at home, but they drew 2-2 — and Bayern grabbed another title from on goal difference.

2022–23 SEASON: 2nd in Bundesliga, DFB-Pokal quarterfinal, UEFA Champions League round of 16.

2023-24 SEASON: Bundesliga (since 1976), UEFA Champions League

Origins of Der Klassiker

This rivalry is relatively young by European soccer standards, with the first meeting between the two sides taking place in 1965. Even during the early matchups during the 1970s and 80s, there was not much animosity and it really wasn’t much of a rivalry by any standard. However, during this time Dortmund won the UEFA European Cup Winners’ Cup, which eventually became the Europa League, making them the first German team to win a European competition. Bayern went on to win the same competition the next year.

Things really began to heat up in the 1990s when Dortmund began to strengthen their squad and really challenge Bayern for the Bundesliga title. Dortmund successfully captured consecutive Bundesliga titles in 1995 and 1996. Later in 1996, an incident between Bayern player Lothar Matthäus and Dortmund player Andreas Möller led to Möller slapping Matthäus in that face despite the fact that the two were teammates on the German national team. Later that season Dortmund won their first Champions League, ironically winning it in Bayern’s home stadium at the time, the Olympiastadion.

The animosity continued in 1998 when Bayern enticed Dortmund’s successful coach Ottmar Hitzfeld to come work for them, and later that season tempers flared again as Bayern’s goalkeeper Oliver Kahn attempted a flying kick at a Dortmund player, then later appeared to bite an opposing player’s neck.

Two years later a Bundesliga record 10 yellow cards and three red cards were shown in a regular season meeting between the two sides. Shortly later Dortmund fell into serious financial troubles and, shockingly, Bayern Munich were the ones to save them, giving them a €2m loan to bring them back from the brink of bankruptcy.

In 2010 the two clubs met in a final for the first time when they faced off in the 2008 DFB-Pokal final in Berlin. Bayern won 2-1 in extra time.

Dortmund Regains Success 

By the early 2010s, Dortmund had put together a very strong squad full of international talents including Mats Hummels, Mario Götze, and Robert Lewandowski — all managed by Jurgen Klopp, later of Liverpool. With this revamped squad they won back-to-back Bundesliga titles in 2011 and 2012. This was the first time a club other than Bayern had won back-to-back titles since Dortmund in the 1990s. They also won the first double in the club’s history in 2012 when they won the league as well as the DFB-Pokal, defeating Bayern 5-2 in the final, which included a Robert Lewandowski hat trick.

Der Klassiker Champions League Final

After losing two Bundesliga titles to Dortmund in a row and losing the 2012 Champions League final to Chelsea at their home ground, Bayern were desperately in need of a big victory. During the 2012-13 Champions League campaign, both clubs had a fantastic run knocking out Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona en route to a final appearance against each other at Wembley Stadium in London. This was the first all German European final, and it did not disappoint. Bayern pulled ahead in the 60th minute, but Dortmund equalized off of a penalty just eight minutes later. Legendary Bayern player Arjen Robben sealed the victory for Bayern in the 89th minute when he scored one of the most important goals of his career.

Overall State of Der Klassiker

As of November 2023, Bayern and Dortmund have played 134 times since 1965, with Bayern winning 67 to Dortmund’s 32, with 35 draws.

The derby continues to be a hotly contested affair with both clubs still in the upper echelon of the Bundesliga.

Written By Carter Lawson
Carter Lawson, Content and Social Media Director · Profile

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