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Patrik Andersson (l., with Owen Hargreaves) celebrates after securing the Bundesliga title for Bayern Munich in the most dramatic of ways in 2001. - © Bongarts
Patrik Andersson (l., with Owen Hargreaves) celebrates after securing the Bundesliga title for Bayern Munich in the most dramatic of ways in 2001. - © Bongarts

The best final day title drama in Bundesliga history


With the 2018/19 Bundesliga title to be decided on Matchday 34, we take a trip down memory lane with a look back at previous years when the championship race has gone down to the final day of the season.

Bayern Munich currently have a two-point lead at the top of the standings but face a tricky home match against Eintracht Frankfurt to seal the title, while second-placed Borussia Dortmund head to Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Niko Kovac's charges have their fate in their own hands - but history has shown that the outcome of a Bundesliga campaign can sometimes go down to the very last kick.

6) 1999/2000  – Ballack's nightmare

A Bayer Leverkusen side filled with Germany internationals of the calibre of Michael Ballack, Jens Nowotny, Bernd Schneider, Ulf Kirsten and Oliver Neuville were second behind Bayern at the halfway stage of the season, but a barnstorming run of 12 wins, three draws and one defeat after the winter break put them three points clear at the top of the table going into the final day of the season.

Germany legend Michael Ballack could not hold back the tears after narrowly missing out on the Bundesliga title. - Bongarts

That left them needing just a draw on Matchday 34 away to a mid-table SpVgg Unterhaching side with nothing left to play for; they were safe from relegation and European qualification was beyond their reach.

However, a Leverkusen team accustomed to outright attacking was unusually passive on 20 May 2000, and Ballack's early own goal in the 20th minute made the team more nervous than usual. Die Werkself subsequently struggled to string moves together and when they did fashion a sight of goal, Unterhaching goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel was in inspired form to keep them out.

Christoph Daum's team poured forward in search of an equaliser, leaving them vulnerable to counter-attacks - one of which was ruthlessly exploited by Unterhaching to seal a 2-0 win. That would still have been enough for Leverkusen if Bayern had lost, but Ottmar Hitzfeld's side beat Werder Bremen 3-1 to end the season level on points but top of the table courtesy of their superior goal difference.

5) 1977/78 – The 12-0 victory that wasn't enough

North Rhine-Westphalia neighbours Cologne and Gladbach enjoyed a hard-fought slog for the title in 1977/78, although the latter didn't actually finish a matchday in top spot throughout the whole campaign.

With three games to go the sides were neck-and-neck on 42 points; Cologne had been narrowly defeated at home to Frankfurt while Gladbach had edged Saarbrücken thanks to a goal from prolific frontman Jupp Heynckes – who would go on to enjoy huge success as a coach, notably with Bayern. Both sides won their next two outings to take it to the final day.

Watch: Jupp Heynckes' legendary Bundesliga career, including his five goals against Dortmund

The issue for Gladbach was that they had to make up 10 goals on Cologne, who were set to face bottom side St. Pauli on the final day. To say the Foals gave it their all is a bit of an understatement: Heynckes and Co. annihilated Dortmund 12-0 in a mesmerising performance that remains the biggest win in Bundesliga history.

Heynckes alone scored five. However, Cologne did enough to claim their second title, putting five past St. Pauli to ensure they maintained their superior goal difference, and even winning a second straight DFB Cup for good measure.

4) 1985/86 – The missed penalty that cost Bremen the title

Werder Bremen spent all but three weeks at the top of the Bundesliga in 1985/86 and yet missed out on the title as they were pipped by Bayern on the final day.

The Green-Whites entertained the Bavarians on Matchday 33 and had a glorious chance to secure the league crown in the game's dying minutes. With the scoreline 0-0, Rudi Völler came off the bench to win the home side a penalty, and up stepped spot-kick supremo Michael Kutzop, who had already converted seven times in the Bundesliga that season.

Goalkeeper Jean-Marie Pfaff didn't budge an inch, but Kutzop's effort clipped the outside of the post and Bayern survived. It was the only penalty he would ever miss in the Bundesliga.

The following week, Bremen only needed a draw but lost 2-1 in Stuttgart, while Bayern hit Gladbach for six to conquer the title on goal difference. It was the first time they had been top of the table all campaign.

Michael Kutzop only ever missed one penalty in his Bundesliga career - this one in 1986 that cost him and his side the title. - Bongarts

3) 1983/1984 – A trio separated by goal difference

VfB Stuttgart held off reigning Bundesliga and European champions Hamburg to win their first title in 1983/84, which was a particularly memorable campaign as the top three teams all ended on the same number of points.

Hamburg were set for a blockbuster showdown with Stuttgart on the final day, but the Red Shorts saw their hopes of a third successive league title fade as they were stunned at home to lowly Frankfurt in their penultimate game, with Ralf Falkenmayer scoring both goals in a 2-0 win for the visitors.

Meanwhile, in Bremen, Hermann Ohlicher grabbed a late winner for VfB against Werder, leaving them two points clear of HSV and Gladbach heading into the final day and with a much better goal difference.

Hamburg needed a five-goal swing as they welcomed Stuttgart to the Volksparkstadion the following weekend, but they could only manage a 1-0 victory courtesy of Jürgen Milewski's late strike. Elsewhere Gladbach eased past Arminia Bielefeld to join their rivals on 48 points. VfB claimed the crown on goal difference, in what will surely go down in history as the tightest conclusion to a Bundesliga season.

VfB Stuttgart's Karlheinz Förster holds the Bundesliga Meisterschale aloft in 1984. - imago/Pressefoto Baumann

2) 1991/92 – Buchwald snatches it for Stuttgart

That wasn't the only time Stuttgart were involved in a three-way tug of war for the title. Heading into the final day of the 1991/92 season – when it was still two points for a win – they were one of a trio of clubs locked on 50 points and in with a shot of securing the title, alongside Frankfurt and Dortmund.

All three sides played away from home that day, and Frankfurt had the advantage of a superior goal difference. But the Eagles fell to a surprise defeat at East German champions Hansa Rostock, who were playing their first Bundesliga campaign after reunification but went on to be relegated from the top flight.

Dortmund had led 1-0 at MSV Duisburg since early in the game and were just minutes from the title when Stuttgart struck a decisive late blow in Leverkusen. Defender Guido Buchwald – already part of the title-winning team in 1984, and a 1990 FIFA World Cup winner with Germany – came up for a late corner and headed in a Ludwig Kögl cross to spark wild celebrations among the visiting supporters, as VfB claimed their second Bundesliga crown, once again on goal difference.

VfB Stuttgart defender Guido Buchwald (No.6) scored the title-deciding goal in 1992. - Bongarts

1) 2000/2001 – Andersson breaks Schalke hearts

Schalke won no fewer than seven German titles in the pre-Bundesliga years, but like Leverkusen the Royal Blues have never got their hands on the modern Meisterschale, despite being mere seconds away from a maiden title in 2001.

On Matchday 29, Schalke defeat Bayern 3-1 at the Olympiastadion thanks to an Ebbe Sand hat-trick, and moved two points clear at the top of the table – but the Bavarians were back in control heading into the final day, three points ahead of their Ruhr rivals. Die Knappen needed to beat Unterhaching and hope Bayern lost in Hamburg.

Schalke came from 2-0 and 3-2 down to eventually lead their game 4-3 in the 74th minute, while another Sand goal on 89 minutes made sure of the three points. At almost the same moment, Sergej Barbarez put Hamburg ahead against Bayern, but as the Schalke fans at the Parkstadion began to stream onto the pitch in celebration at full-time there was a final twist.

Deep in stoppage time, HSV goalkeeper Mathias Schober inexplicably picked up a back-pass, giving Bayern an indirect free-kick that was drilled low into the back of the net by a very unlikely hero: centre-back Patrik Andersson. Cue pandemonium on the Bayern bench, and despair in Gelsenkirchen. It was the Swede's only ever goal for the club.

Things could have turned out very differently if goalkeeper Oliver Kahn had had his way: “There was nothing holding me back, so I ran forward and said to Stefan [Effenberg], ‘Stefan, let me shoot’. [laughs] He then said, ‘Are you mad?! Go away, we’re letting Patrik Andersson shoot because he’s got the hardest shot’." You suspect Kahn didn't mind being overlooked afterwards when he collected the fourth of his record eight Bundesliga medals...

Watch: Don't believe us? Click on the video below to recap how the drama unfolded