The secret of Dortmund’s success? They’re the anti-Bayern
The excitement which has greeted Borussia Dortmund’s rise to power over the last two years reached its zenith this week, as Germany anticipated the deciding fixture in one of its most significant title races of the last two decades. Jürgen Klopp’s young Dortmund side have, with Wednesday night’s 1-0 victory over FC Bayern, completed their transition from likeable young pretenders to being a genuine threat to Bayern’s long term monopoly over the Bundesliga.
Now six points clear at the top of the table, BVB look set to become the first team in nearly two decades to deny Bayern the title for two successive years. The secret of their success? Ask Jürgen Klopp, ask the romantics, and they will tell you that Dortmund are the anti-Bayern. Their own club.
A club with true fans, true support – true love, as the club motto says. The apparent antithesis of the “Mia San Mia”, siege mentality superiority of their Bavarian rivals. They are a different kind of champion – the “Meister der Herzen”, champions for the people – with the possible exception of those in Gelsenkirchen and Munich.
In the end, though, it was not the famed Bavarian arrogance which saw them squander their last real hope of the title. Nor was it the plucky, honest spirit of the likeable young scamps from Dortmund which saw them edge clear Bayern in the title race. In the end, it was just a question of which superpower would win out on the night.
If there was one thing that Dortmund did not resemble, it was an honest underdog. Instead, the victory heralded their arrival once more as a ruthless power, capable of combining glorious footballing talent with relentless self belief, to create cold hard silverware.
When Neven Subotic greeted Arjen Robben’s missed penalty in the 86th minute by snarling in the Dutchman’s face, he justified it by saying “I don’t like players who dive.” The fact that Robben, for once, had not dived to win the penalty, did not matter. Subotic’s actions were unashamedly partisan, combative and competitive. They sparked memories of the Effenbergs, Kahns and Lehmanns who dominated the great Bayern and Dortmund teams of the last generation.
If Subotic hates diving so much, why does he not have a quiet word with some of his own team mates? Kevin Großkreutz and Moritz Leitner spring to mind. Both have been guilty of simulation against Bayern this year.
Großkreutz, meanwhile, reserves his most vicious bile not for the rich kids at Bayern, but rather anyone unfortunate enough to have once been affiliated with BVB’s local rivals Schalke 04, as demonstrated by his Effenbergian celebrations in front of Gerald Asamoah in the semi final of the DFB Pokal.
As for Dortmund’s much talked about fans, while the whole European press was quite rightly lauding Germany’s most impressive stadium atmosphere, the supporters who had done so well to create it were also launching bananas at Manuel Neuer.
Among the club’s hierarchy, meanwhile, there has been no earnest, “I would love it if we beat them” fighting talk, but rather a series of very Bayernesque statements of intent. When Jürgen Klopp kept repeating, towards the end of the season, that the title race wasn’t over, it could just as easily have been Christian Nerlinger speaking. Similarly,there was something unerringly Hoeness-like about Hans Joachim Watzke chastising Joachim Löw for picking only a single Dortmund player for an international friendly earlier in the year.
That Dortmund have played some delightful football over the last few years is indisputable. They deserved to win the title in 2011, and will deserve it again when they win it this year. With their undoubtable class, they have matured into snarling, fighting champions, and Bayern are now obliged to look on them, at the very least, as equals. That, in itself, is a phenomenal achievement.
But as they shed the naivete and the likeability of their hitherto so well maintained identity, Dortmund must also come to terms with the fact that any prolonged success will come at the price of resemblance to, if not imitation of, the hated team in red.Tagged in: Bayern, Borussia, Bundesliga, Dortmund, FC, football, German, germany, Jürgen Klopp, Munich
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