The Perfect Ten Part 6: Borussia Dortmund vs Bayern Munich [1997 UCL Quarter Final]
This was the first Champions League tie between the bitter domestic rivals, and even though it lacked attacking quality and goals, there was certainly no shortage of drama and tension. The first leg at the Olympiastadion in Munich finished goalless, with the stubborn defences of both sides holding sway. However, just one leg separated the two sides from claiming the bragging rights in Europe.
This was a ‘Do or die’ situation for the Bavarians, who had one last chance of redeeming themselves against their rivals. Borussia Dortmund had just won the UEFA Champions League the previous season, defeating Juventus in the final at Bayern’s stadium, as if it were their backyard. So this made the tie more than just a game, more than a tie to decide German representatives in the last four of the European competition- it was a battle for domestic supremacy.
The match, as expected by many, was a tight contest, with both teams’ defence on their toes nullifying each other’s counter attacks. Giovane Elber and Carsten Jancker, the most prolific strikers in the Bayern line-up that season, went close on two occasions, with the former shooting wide while the latter’s best chance of the night was saved by Stefan Klos.
After a goalless first half, both teams were expecting substitutions immediately after the break, and so it was surprising to see both managers sticking to their starting lineup. Giovani Trapattoni, Bayern’s Italian boss, brought on Thorsten Fink and Thomas Strunz for Mehmet Scholl and Lothar Matthaus, while Michael Zorc and Heiko Herrlich came on for Nevio Scala’s side. The match still couldn’t see a goal, which made the extra time look inevitable.
The weak attacking display and superb defending by both sides made it look as if penalties were reckoning, but then the scenario suddenly changed. After 19 minutes of extra time, Stephane Chapuisat scored the goal that looked like the winner. He smashed a left footed volley which went past the diving Kahn, as the Westfalenstadion erupted with unparalleled joy and relief. The hero of the night, Chapuisat, made Trapattoni’s men pay dearly for one little defensive mistake, as he ghosted past the entire defence line and escaped the watch of Markus Babbel. Even for Munich’s comeback kings the contest looked to be over.
And it certainly was, as the final whistle confirmed Borussia’s crushing win over Bayern, not in terms of goals, but in terms of pride and bragging rights. The loss postponed the Bavarians’ ambitions of returning to the top of the pile in Germany. Two consecutive league titles had made Dortmund the real boss in their nation, and although Bayern had managed to wrestle the league crown back, Dortmund’s UCL victory again brought them to the fore, getting the deserved spotlight. Nevio Scala had inherited a Champions League winning squad from Ottmar Hitzfeld, and this fact was further highlighted with this morale crushing win. And even though Dortmund lost to Real Madrid in the final four, they still had a better overall season as they also finished as runners-up in the UEFA Super Cup. Bayern had to encounter even more disappointment as they agonisingly lost the league title with a mere 2 points that season.
There aren’t too many video footages of this night, only a few sparse reports remain. But for the people in Germany, and especially Dortmund, not many need a reminding.