Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund: Why Der Klassiker is still the biggest game in Germany


Ahead of their upcoming meeting on Matchday 27, bundesliga.com explains why Der Klassiker showdowns between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund remain the country's biggest fixtures.

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It's that instantly recognisable sight of Bayern red and Dortmund black and yellow combining against the backdrop of a brilliant green pitch that sets pulses racing across the footballing world. Over the years it has become one of the globe's must-see fixtures and this time around that will be no different as the defending Bundesliga champions welcome their long-standing rivals on what looks certain to be one more memorable sporting occasion.  

Much of this campaign has been about Bayer Leverkusen, who currently sit 10 points clear at the top of the Bundesliga table and are still unbeaten in all competitions. Indeed, bar a stunning turnaround at the top, for the first time in 12 seasons, it looks as though Bayern will not be taking the Meisterschale back to Munich. Yet Leverkusen's ambitions will play a side role inside a packed Allianz Arena this Saturday, when the lights shine brightly on a Topspiel that both sides will be determined to win for Klassiker bragging rights.  

With 32 Bundesliga titles, Bayern are way out on their own as the most successful club in Germany. Dortmund, though, come in joint-second with five alongside Borussia Mönchengladbach and, since the start of the 1990s, have been the team posing Bayern their biggest threat.

Watch: Bayern in fine fettle ahead of Der Klassiker

In fact, since the country’s reunification in 1991, only four other teams have finished a term on the top step of the podium, with Bayern and BVB winning 26 of the 32 titles since. They have also shared 15 DFB Cups across the same period and, alongside Hamburg, are two of the three German teams to conquer European football. Dortmund lifted the UEFA Champions League in 1997 and Bayern did so in 1974, 1975, 1976, 2001, 2013 and 2020.

"These are the duels; [the reason] why you play football. The atmosphere is outstanding," Bayern midfielder Leon Goretzka explained last season when asked about competing in Der Klassiker. BVB coach Edin Terzic, meanwhile, noted of Die Schwarzgelben's grand rivals, "Their senses are always somewhat sharper against us than against other Bundesliga clubs."

Quiz: Are you a Klassiker expert?

Given these two’s consistency, it stands to reason that match-ups are often decisive. After all, Dortmund have finished as runners-up in seven of Bayern’s 11 consecutive triumphs, while Bayern had to make do with second spot in 2011/12 as Dortmund triumphed, the last time Der Rekordmeister finished empty-handed.

Bayern’s 3-1 victory on home soil on Matchday 31 of 2021/22, as well as their 1-0 Matchday 28 away win two seasons prior, were effectively the final nail in their rivals’ title coffin. Meanwhile, Dortmund’s narrow 1-0 success on Matchday 30 in 2011/12 gave them a six-point buffer going into the final four matches, a gap Bayern couldn’t close.

Then there's instances like last season's deciding final weekend of the season when Dortmund were cruelly denied the title in the dying moments by Bayern's late victory over Cologne.

Watch: Decision day in the 2022/23 title race - relived

Everyone involved knows the historical importance of this clash and will be desperate to prevail, especially as this time around, Dortmund are chasing a Champions League place and Bayern haven't given up the title ghost just yet.

"Every football fan and every footballer looks forward to Der Klassiker," Bayern captain Manuel Neuer said, his coach Thomas Tuchel - formerly at the Dortmund helm - agreeing when saying, "It's a big game in Germany, and it's a big game for us."  

Not only do these two dominate in terms of trophies, they have fanbases that are unrivalled across the country. Dortmund boast Germany’s biggest stadium, with the Signal Iduna Park holding a capacity of 81,365, while the Allianz Arena comes in second place with 75,024.

It's a similar case in terms of membership, only with the roles reversed. Over 316,000 members makes Bayern the second biggest sports club in the world behind only Argentina’s River Plate, while Dortmund sit fifth on the list with just shy of 190,000.

Both sets of supporters make for an incredible atmosphere whenever these two sides meet, either at the Allianz Arena or the Signal Iduna Park (pictured). - Alex Grimm

This match doesn’t just attract attention domestically, either, but also across the world, with both outfits having fan clubs in all four corners of the globe. When thinking of some of the biggest match-ups in the footballing universe - Real Madrid vs. Barcelona; Juventus against AC Milan; Liverpool - Manchester United; Boca Juniors vs. River Plate, to name just a few - Bayern against Dortmund is right up there in terms of star players, sublime skill and plenty of bite.  

The free-scoring Harry Kane and goal-beast Niclas Füllkrug are just two of the star turns who will look to make the difference when the sides lines out on Matchday 27 and with both eager to add to respective personal tallies this term under the global spotlight that Der Klassiker brings, you have just one more reason to tune in. 

Watch: Kane hit a hat-trick as Bayern won the reverse fixture 4-0 - highlights

Indeed, whether it be Manuel Neuer, Leroy Sané and Jamal Musiala for Bayern or Donyell MalenJadon Sancho and Marco Reus for Dortmund, these squads have fantastic talent wherever you look.

Once asked what it takes to win at the home of the Bavarian giants after a Dortmund win in Munich back in 2014, BVB legend Reus said, "Matching them man for man and [being] clinical in front of goal ... is the only way to survive here in Munich." Neuer, meanwhile, spoke of the necessity for speed and transition in terms of key attributes when looking to take the Klassiker spoils, as Bayern did so clinically last November, thanks in no small part to a Kane Klassiker hat-trick. "We had fast players with whom we could hurt Dortmund,” Neuer noted then.

In the last seven meetings, there have been 34 goals in this game of games, which works out at an average of almost five on each occasion. With numbers like that, you can't afford to miss out on the latest version of Der Klassiker, a match you can follow right here on bundesliga.com and across our social media channels on Saturday at 6.30pm CET.