Bayern Munich are like the Chinese: War of words breaks out between Bayern and Borussia Dortmund
It all started, as these things are wont to do, with Uli Hoeness. The Bayern president had just seen his team beat Borussia Dortmund for the first time in six games, and he was ostensibly relieved at the apparent return to business as usual.
“I think with a seventeen point lead in the Bundesliga and the deserved win today, we have established the balance of power in German football,” Hoeness smirked, before adding “for this year, at least.”
That last remark was telling. It was an affirmation that Bayern’s newfound dominance would not, as on so many previous occasions, collapse under the weight of the famed Bavarian arrogance. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge echoed the sentiment, “We’re happy to have won today, but it’s important that we’re not arrogant about this. When Dortmund beat us last year, they were always very fair to us, and we will be the same to them today.”
And yet, even with such uncharacteristic reservation on Bayern’s part, it has not taken long for yet another feud to break out between Germany’s two biggest clubs. While in the aftermath of the game, Juergen Klopp spoke largely of his own team’s performance, it has taken him little more than a day to send a stinging verbal attack over his shoulder into southern Germany.
“Bayern go about football in the same way that the Chinese go about industry. They look at what the others are doing, and then they copy it with other people and more money. And then they overtake you,” declared the BVB coach.
For all his insistence that the balance of power is of no interest to him, Klopp’s comment was indicative of just how significant the Bayern Dortmund rivalry is becoming in German football. Klopp was quick to remind the press of just how impressive his side have been over the last two years, and it is certainly the case that Dortmund’s rise has forced Bayern to up their game this season. That they have done so purely by reproducing the Dortmund philosophy, though, was an accusation which Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, who last weekend celebrated his 1000th Bundesliga game as player and coach, felt obliged to repudiate.
“FC Bayern has been around longer than Juergen Klopp has been a coach,” said Heynckes, “and they have always had their own style of play. It’s important for one to show respect in both victory and defeat – but especially in defeat.”
True to form, Heynckes’ comments drew a sneering Hans Joachim Watzke out of the woodwork: “Bayern are certainly not a club who can tell us how to behave in defeat. It’s not as if they’ve quite mastered it themselves,” responded the Dortmund General Manager.
Dortmund have long made it their prerogative to avoid being drawn into the kind of mind games which Hoeness has always attempted to cultivate with Bayern’s rivals. But if this petty war of the words suggests anything, it is that they have failed to do so. Klopp’s comments were those of a man stung by defeat to a rival which meant a lot more to him than he would care to admit. His accusations of plagiarism, moreover, perfectly encapsulated the nature of the Bayern Dortmund rivalry. Bayern are the big southern bullies with the money, and Dortmund are the plucky, worker’s club from the Ruhr who have rebuilt their own footballing legacy from nothing over the last decade or so. The recent speculation over Robert Lewandowski’s potential move to Bayern this summer has only exacerbated the stereotypes.
Whichever side of the fence you fall on, it is thoroughly entertaining. And yet, under the cloud of mind games and exchanged insults lies a more pertinent truth. That here are two phenomenally entertaining football teams, whose quality and whose excellence have helped re-establish the Bundesliga as one of the top league competitions in the world. In the midst of this verbal battle, that should not go unappreciated.Tagged in: bayern munich, football
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