The Perfect Ten Part 1: Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich (April 11, 2012)

The Perfect Ten: A look back at ten historic BVB matches

There’s no doubt that every football fan knows this – Borussia Dortmund are one of the two best football clubs in Germany and one of the best clubs in Europe. They’ve had a fine history, which remains unparalleled in terms of passion and fan-following. And it’s pretty obvious that they’ve had their share of memorable and gruelling matches over the course of their impressive history.

This weekly series will cover the ten best matches in the club’s history- exclusive to the fans of the Yellow Wall. These historical games are eternal for how they manage to stay in the memories of football faithful forever, and not just for how the match panned out. We start off with one of their most important matches in recent years – their clash against arch-rivals Bayern Munich that took place on April 11, 2012.

The stage was set: Two title rivals about to commence a 90-minute battle to stake their claim for the highest domestic prestige – the Bundesliga title. With only five games of the season remaining, league leaders Borussia Dortmund welcomed Bayern Munich at the Signal Iduna Park. The battle royale began with a bang as there were three big chances in the opening five minutes itself. First, Munich striker Mario Gomez saw a close-range header tipped over the bar by Roman Weidenfeller. Shortly after that, Jakub Blaszczykowski fired wide when one-on-one with the Bayern goalie – a chap by the name of Manuel Neuer. Moments later, the magical shot-stopper pulled off a superb reflex save to deny Kevin Grosskreutz from close range. If that wasn’t enough, he still managed to parry a subsequent shot from Robert Lewandowski. Even though the tempo somewhat declined in the subsequent minutes both teams drilled shot after shot at each other’s goal, but neither of the two managed to claim the breakthrough goal in the first half.

The second half was eventful, too, but both teams failed to get anywhere near the opposition goal for the first few minutes after the break. Dortmund were sloppy in possession and careless in passing, and Bayern tried to take advantage of their lost concentration, but had to thank Ribery and Robben for bottling three good opportunities to score. Kagawa managed a shot which flew wide as the hosts tried to gain some momentum, but to no avail.

However, the hosts managed to score the opening goal against the run of play through Lewandowski in the 77th minute. The ball reached the Polish striker after an optimistic long-range effort from Jakub Blaszczykowski, who then produced a sublime back-heeled goal that found its way past Neuer who was taken by surprise. The goal sent the stadium into raptures, as the home fans’ celebrations deafened the 80,720 spectators at the Signal Iduna Park.

However, there was still a lot of drama left to be unfolded, as the Bavarians failed to give up and threw everything they had at the hosts. They then won a penalty, as Robben was tripped in the box. The Dutch winger had the chance to redeem his mistake of playing Lewandowski onside for the goal, but his penalty was a tame effort which was well saved by Weidenfeller. As if this embarrassment wasn’t enough, Robben then missed a sitter to confirm his status as the villain of the night. Subotic headed a Bayern attack into his own goal post, and the ball fell to Robben who rather funnily shot way over the bar from point-blank range. In the very next move, Lewandowski hit the bar as Dortmund went through on a counter, and despite the nail-biting late drama, Jurgen Klopp’s men condemned Jupp Heynckes’ side to a crashing 1-0 defeat, which all but ended their title hopes.

The contest holds immense significance due to its thrilling nature, and also because the vital three points sent Dortmund through to the title as they widened their lead to six points with just four games left. They did manage to win the double of the Bundesliga and the DFB Pokal Cup, and the Yellow Wall hasn’t won another league title since, and the losers of the night have dominated German Football ever since that eventful date, as they took their revenge in the very next season by defeating them in the final of the UEFA Champions League. And we all know that the Lewandowski saga played a big role in their recent failures, as he made the controversial switch over to the Bavarians just two seasons later in search of European titles.

More of that in the upcoming editions of the Perfect Ten. Stay tuned for the Part 2 this time next week.