Arjen Robben had a night to forget when title rivals Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich met on 11 April 2012. - © 2012 Getty Images
Arjen Robben had a night to forget when title rivals Borussia Dortmund and Bayern Munich met on 11 April 2012. - © 2012 Getty Images

Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund: The last time Der Klassiker decided the title


With just two points separating them, Bayern Munich’s upcoming meeting with Borussia Dortmund has more than just a whiff of title decider about it. Not since their infamous ding-dong at Signal Iduna Park on 11 April 2012 has Der Klassiker held such significance so late in a Bundesliga campaign.

In anticipation of the Matchday 28 showdown at the Allianz Arena, recalls the night Dortmund sank Bayern's battleship, paving the way for the club's fifth league title...

Watch: Relive Dortmund's title-defining win over Bayern

Dortmund had finished some 10 points clear of Bayern en route to topping the domestic pile under Jürgen Klopp in 2010/11, but their title defence was far from smooth. At the halfway stage, BVB were a point behind leaders Bayern, and had Schalke and Borussia Mönchengladbach breathing down their necks in third and fourth respectively. The Black-Yellows had dropped points on seven occasions, but the results improved over the course of the new year and by the time Bayern rolled into town on the night of 11 April, they had reclaimed top spot by virtue of a three-point swing.

Then came the defining fixture in the title race on Matchday 30. A Mario Götze goal had already given Klopp's heavy-metal ensemble a 1-0 win at Bayern earlier in the season, they boasted a marginally superior goal difference and they were playing at home, in front of Europe's grandest standing terrace, the Yellow Wall.

"The atmosphere was incredible from the off," recalled former Dortmund hero Kevin Großkreutz. "Wednesday night under the floodlights - there's nothing better in football."

Made for nights like Der Klassiker: Dortmund's south stand has a capacity of almost 25,000 spectators. - Bongarts/Getty Images

And so it proved. Bayern's Mario Gomez fired off an early warning shot that Dortmund goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller did well to save, before Dortmund took control. Jakub 'Kuba' Blaszczykowski and Großkreutz stung the palms of Manuel Neuer, while Robert Lewandowski followed up a rasping Toni Kroos riposte with a towering header that came back off a post. If Bayern had been given the option of going home with a goalless draw, they would probably have taken it.

'Kuba' tested Neuer once again in the second half, but Bayern - galvanized by the introduction of cerebral midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger - were beginning to see far more of the ball. A long-range Shinji Kagawa effort aside, Dortmund had done almost nothing offensively when a sling-shot attack caught Bayern napping and earned a corner. The red shirts only half cleared Marcel Schmelzer's attempted delivery which Großkreutz returned with interest. He didn't catch it with anywhere near the desired level of oomph, but it was the sniff of a chance Lewandowski had been waiting for since rattling the woodwork in the first half.

Played onside by Arjen Robben with his back to goal, the Poland striker showed brilliant improvisation skills to guide Großkreutz's daisy-cutter past Neuer and into the back of the net. The Signal Iduna Park went bananas.

"To take the lead in front of the Südtribüne, the way we celebrated as a team, it was spine-tingling," said Großkreutz of the moment Dortmund put one ginormous black-and-yellow hand on the 2011/12 title. But Der Klassiker was only just warming up.

No more Mr. Nice Guy: Neven Subotic's (r.) reaction to Arjen Robben's (l.) penalty miss is one of the enduring Klassiker images. - 2012 AFP

In the 82nd minute, Robben burst into the Dortmund six-yard box. Weidenfeller came steaming out, but got his angles and timing all wrong to bring down Bayern's flying Dutchman for a penalty match referee Knut Kircher did not think twice about giving.

Robben exuded equal conviction to retrieve and place the ball onto the penalty spot. He'd scored all eight of his attempted Bundesliga spot-kicks, but was about to blot his copybook. A rolled, powder-puff attempt: Weidenfeller could not believe his luck. Dortmund defender Neven Subotic went all Martin Keown on the Bayern winger, an in-your-face reaction he later put down to the pressure-cooker environment of fighting for the title against Germany's most successful club.

"On the one hand, people say 'Ey, Neven, you're so stupid, why are you doing this?' On the other hand, I know that it was an instinct," said Subotic. "It was not something I thought about [at the time]. Your pulse races at 200 on the pitch, it's best not try and explain everything [you do]."

"Football’s always emotional," conceded Robben. "I missed the penalty, and then I'm standing there in my own world. It can happen."

Robert Lewandowski plays for Bayern now, but for four years he was the scourge of the record champions. - 2012 Getty Images

Robben had one last shot at redemption in the closing stages but, after Subotic headed onto his own crossbar, Bayern's star-crossed No.10 blazed the follow-up high into the stand. Lewandowski hit the bar as Dortmund went up the other end in an attempt to land the knockout blow as an emotionally charged contest ended 1-0 in favour of BVB.

"It's embarrassing," Robben said after the game, Bayern having slipped some six points behind Dortmund in the title race. "It's so disappointing, I don't know what to say. Dortmund made a giant step forward. We can say they're almost champions."

Bayern's fate was all but confirmed the following matchday after a goalless draw with Mainz. Dortmund held their nerve to beat local rivals Schalke, before putting the seal on a successful title defence with two games to spare thanks to a 2-0 win over Gladbach.

To rub salt into the wound, Dortmund bulldozed the red machine 5-2 in the DFB Cup final to complete a memorable double.

"Those were incredible moments, but Dortmund always take the fight to Bayern," remembered Klopp aptly.

Now hands up if you're ready for Bayern vs. Dortmund: The Fight To the Finish Vol.2...?