It’s a phrase that’s overused, not just in football, but in all walks of life. ‘Clash of the Titans’-as I’m sure most are aware- refers to two heavyweights of a particular area or field, coming together in strong battle. That’s exactly what we have in the Bundesliga on Saturday evening. Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund come together, not as first vs second-as they have been in recent years- but as two of the most accomplished and brilliant German club sides that have been seen for decades. These clubs define German football, or what it should be, with their raw efficiency and fast flowing attacking movement. They represent everything that’s good about German football. They have helped reinvent the German club scene to what it is now, a multi-million dollar franchise that draws interest from all over the globe. Admittedly, this point could be attributed to the recent success of Dortmund, but Bayern have always been on their heels, making the league one of the most exciting in Europe. It’s fair to say that ever since it’s reformation in 1962, the Bundesliga hasn’t exactly been one of the most dramatic and open European Leagues, with Bayern collecting 21 of the titles, and Monchengladbach and Dortmund following them up in a not-so-close second each with five titles. It wouldn’t be correct to say that Bayern Munich have dominated the German club scene. It would be more accurate to say, they have completely taken it by storm and repressed all opposition. The Bavarians, however, were facing a dire crisis at the start of the season. Two consecutive campaigns without a league title to show, and it’s fair to say that the natives were starting to sweat a little. Surely it couldn’t be three? That hasn’t happened since 92-93 when Werder Bremen claimed the title. But, despite all the tension and pressure mounted on the back of Jupp Heynckes, he’s started pretty well. Pretty well indeed. The former German international, is in his third stint as Munich manager, and it could be third time EVEN MORE lucky for Heynckes, who has already steered the side to two league titles. Munich currently sit pretty at the top of the table, with only one defeat to speak of, and a healthy +35 goal difference.
It’s been a different story this season for their title rivals, Borussia Dortmund, who have struggled to rekindle the form which saw them lift two titles and bring the trophy home to Dortmund for a second time running, a feat which hadn’t been managed since 1996. Jurgen Klopp deserves great credit for his work at the club, the man who has transformed this club from long-time European lurkers, to title winners. He brings with him, an air of confidence and it wouldn’t surprise me one bit, to see him strutting his stuff in the home dugout at Old Trafford in a few years. When you Google his name the first thing that comes up is: ‘Jurgen Klopp tactics’. This speaks volumes for the success that he has enjoyed at Dortmund. And also that a great deal of people want to find out how this man has done what he has, it might also suggest that their is a budding manager of Hungerford FC, or some such team, that wants to replicate his success. As if it was that easy. Back to the present, and as mentioned, it’s not looking good for Dortmund. It’s still very early in the season, but they sit eleven points behind the leaders with a worrying five draws, and still a point behind second placed Leverkusen. It’s not what the supporters want to hear, but with the winter break approaching, it’s imperative Dortmund pick something up against Bayern Munich tomorrow to stand any chance of keeping their crown.
Regardless of who needs what to do better or worse, this game should epitomise everything that German football is about. It should be an example to the world, to show how far German club football has come, and while the national side might be disappointing of late the Bundesliga only gets better. So when you settle down in front of a roaring fire for the game, just make sure you remember that your not just watching a German football match, your watching a piece of footballing history.