Der Klassiker Victory Could Act as Springboard for Borussia Dortmund

This weekend will mark the earliest Bundesliga Der Klassiker meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich. The champions visit the home of the side who, over the past eight years, have simultaneously played their closest challengers, yet haven’t come close to challenging.

Borussia Dortmund Looking for Der Klassiker Victory

Dortmund’s Forgettable Recent Past Against Bayern Munich

In those eight years, the best victories Dortmund have been able to score against Bayern Munich have been near-academic wins in the German Super Cup, or trivial league wins. Die Schwarzgelben managed what looked like a few huge league victories when they happened, most notably in November 2018. But even those turned out to be pointless in terms of what happened at the end of the season.

The problem for Dortmund isn’t just that they lose to Bayern Munich, it’s that they lose to Bayern in different ways. Last season’s results seemed like the perfect summation of their kind of losses. There are the horror shows, in which Dortmund hardly turn up, get trounced, and show they have no mettle to challenge Bayern. But there are also the close shaves, where Dortmund do turn up, have good spells, but lack the nerve to get one over Bayern when it matters the most.

This has transcended five different managers (and four for Bayern), and the problem still lies. When push turns to shove, Dortmund crumble at the sight of their powerful enemy.

Dortmund Falling to Bayern for the Title

Even when they manage to put one over Bayern in the league, as the late 2018 game showed, Dortmund still don’t make the most of it. In the long run, Bayern Munich still come out on top. In that 2018 fixture, they came from behind to beat a Bayern side who were then not even among the top two. By March of the following year, Lucien Favre’s team were top but still capitulated to let Bayern steal the title.

That’s another part of the problem. It’s not just that Bayern can beat them in the league. Rather, it’s that it hardly matters. Falter or prosper, Dortmund will still let Bayern in. In the past three years, Bayern have had questionable spells. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked after an unpleasant start to 2017/18. His eventual replacement Niko Kovac didn’t have a good start to the following season, and then by early 2019/20, he was gone as well.

Even Bayern’s treble-winning campaign last term started with hiccups, and yet, Dortmund couldn’t capitalise on it. All signs point to a psychological issue as much as anything. Dortmund know, no matter what happens next, the enemy is coming, and a young squad keeps failing to handle that.

Significance of Der Klassiker Win

What would it mean if Dortmund beat Bayern this weekend? Maybe little. Fans have been here before, many times, to expect any potential Black and Yellow victory or to spell a successful title charge. But this season feels a bit different. The pressure on Favre in the dugout keeps amplifying each week, with claims of him not being good enough. And, despite being level on points with Bayern, Dortmund have their backs to the wall already.

Perhaps victory here could work wonders. Perhaps to the players, who’ll see Bayern as fallible again. To the manager, who needs something of a statement victory. To the world, who want to see Dortmund stand up and punch their German bully.

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