Bundesliga Feature: Three Times Bayern Blew It
BUNDESLIGA FEATURE: THREE TIMES BAYERN BLEW IT – There has been little to separate Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund for months, leaving the two leading lights of German football set to trade blows until the bitter end. With three games remaining, Bayern look set to make it 11 league titles in a row despite leading by just one point.
But Dortmund score for fun these days, doing so once again in last weekend’s 6-0 demolition of Wolfsburg, and will surely capitalize on any slip up from the Bavarians. In turn, many neutral fans will be hoping to see Die Roten fail miserably for once.
It wouldn’t be the first time either if that proves to be the case on May 27th, as this memorable trio of classic matches will show:
When Newbs Become Gods
May 2, 1998 – Kaiserslautern 4-0 Wolfsburg
Wolfsburg also took an almighty early-May thrashing a quarter of a century ago, and that proved to be the end of Bayern’s hopes, as Kaiserslautern’s home finale of 1997/98 saw them become the first – and still only – newly-promoted side to win the Bundesliga.
The Palatine club was by no means unfamiliar with Bundesliga glory, having lifted the trophy for the first time in 1991. But hard times followed, culminating in their relegation at the end of 1995/96.
However, stalwart striker Olaf Marschall stayed true to the cause and was part of the side immediately promoted from 2. Bundesliga in 1997. Now boasting a near-telepathic relationship with his teammates, Marschall went on a one-man crusade in 1997/98, bagging 18 goals prior to his side’s last home game of the season.
Once again, those pesky Bayern boys were the only side that could exploit any failure to win, but the Fritz-Walter-Stadion faithful need not have worried, as ‘Mr Reliable’ scored after 24 minutes, going on to net a second that was sandwiched by goals from Martin Wagner and Jürgen Rische:
With Bundesliga glory came UEFA Champions League participation, and Kaiserslautern took to it well, finishing atop their group before being dumped out (6-0 across a two-game series) by a vengeful Bayern in the quarter-finals during the spring of 1999.
And the new millennium only proved more unforgiving for the plucky underdog side, as they experienced further relegations. They last rose from the depths of third-tier 3. Liga only 12 months ago – having most recently played in the Bundesliga back in 2012.
Dortmund Win it By a Nose
The title race of 2001/02 kept everyone guessing, and it was a three-way duel for the ultimate prize by the time the final day rolled around. Dortmund occupied pole position, and would snatch the title with a win over an unmotivated Bremen side that could finish no higher than sixth.
Along with eternal bridesmaids Leverkusen, Bayern could only win themselves and hope for a miraculous favor from Bremen.
All three emerged victorious in the end, but Dortmund were full merit for the title by virtue of their finale’s sheer Hollywood value, as despite having every reason to sit back and take their medicine with a roll of the eyes, Werder Bremen took a shock 17th minute lead through Paul Stalteri.
And they held on until five minutes before the break, when the Black and Yellows’ little-and-large strike partnership of Jan Koller and Ewerthon started to turn it around:
While Dortmund would wait another nine years for their next title success, the fates have been much kinder to them than Kaiserslautern over the past two decades – though the club’s quest to permanent evict Bayern as a brain tenant remains indefinitely ongoing.
Hungry like Die Wolfe
May 23, 2009 – Wolfsburg 5-1 Werder Bremen
The 2008/09 campaign remains the last time a team other than Bayern or Dortmund lifted German football’s greatest prize. With a fifth-placed finish in the previous campaign, and a run to the DFB Pokal semi-finals as former Bayern boss Felix Magath’s golden era in charge began, Wolfsburg became the talk of the top-flight.
Grafite and Edin Džeko formed a great partnership in attack during Magath’s sophomore season, and Wolfsburg built up such a sizeable lead that they needed only a draw from their final match, against a relaxed Werder Bremen side already assured of a place in the inaugural Europa League edition.
All too often, a club has to strive for its maiden title, with wan-faced fans nervously checking their phones for results elsewhere while the team painfully chokes in front of them.
But that was not the case here, as Zvjezdan Misimović opened the scoring after just six minutes, before Grafite doubled the Wolves’ advantage soon after, setting them up for a stroll to their only league title yet.
Džeko rounded off the scoring, encapsulating what had been a wonderful season alongside Grafite, and marking the pinnacle of a beautiful partnership:
On an interesting side note, Džeko is still plying his trade at the very top with Italian side Inter Milan – even at the ripe age of 36!
The Final Word
These stories can only inspire any side aiming to dethrone the champ. The fact remains that Bayern won’t be kings of Germany forever, and if free-scoring Dortmund can’t oust them, who can?
Perhaps Leipzig’s venomous attack will lay all to waste next year in a show of shock and awe – or maybe miracle-working minnows Union Berlin will finally find that missing piece of the puzzle to become the next Kaiserslautern?
As ever, only time will tell…
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