The 2021/22 campaign starts with a bang with two of the most successful clubs in Bundesliga history getting the ball rolling on what promises to be yet another exciting, action-packed season.
Borussia Mönchengladbach and Bayern Munich enjoyed one of the Bundesliga's defining rivalries, sharing the Meisterschale in nine consecutive seasons during the 1970s. And while it may have been 41 years since the Foals last lifted the title, they will be keen to hit the ground running under Adi Hütter at Borussia-Park on 13 August.
bundesliga.com looks at an opening fixture worthy of raising the curtain on a new campaign…
When Bayern and Gladbach joined the Bundesliga in 1965, few might have predicted the impact they would have over the course of the following 10-15 years. Under former Yugoslavia midfielder Zlatko Cajkovski, Bayern finished third in their first campaign and won the DFB Cup, which led to a UEFA Cup Winners' Cup triumph the following year – the first of many trophies to fill their trophy room.
Cajkovski built his team around the remarkable 'golden trio' of goalkeeper Sepp Maier, sweeper Franz Beckenbauer and centre-forward Gerd Müller – although it was his old Yugoslavia teammate, Branko Zebec, who guided the Bavarians to their maiden Bundesliga crown in 1968/69.
It didn't take long for Gladbach to grab their share of the limelight, though. Under the guidance of the legendary Hennes Weisweiler – who was responsible for training coaches at the German Sports University in Cologne, and later gave his name to the national coaching centre – they scooped their first Bundesliga title in 1969/70. It was the prelude to a decade that belonged, almost in equal measures, to Gladbach and Bayern.
The two teams continued to spur each other on to ever greater heights. Müller inspired Bayern to the 1972 title with an eye-watering tally of 40 goals – which was the Bundesliga's single-season record up until May, when Robert Lewandowski bettered it by one – and followed that up with hauls of 36 and 30 as the Bavarians won three championships in a row, another unprecedented feat.
Watch: Bayern Munich's key 2021/22 dates
Naturally, their domestic success soon spilled over into Europe. Several months before the 1974 FIFA World Cup, Bayern were crowned European champions after defeating Atletico Madrid 4-0 in the final replay, having required a 120th-minute equaliser from defender Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck in the original showpiece – considered by some as the most important goal in the club's history. They would go on to win the continent's top prize again in 1975 and 1976 at the expense of Leeds United and Saint-Etienne.
Although Gladbach seized the Bundesliga crown back from Bayern in three consecutive seasons from 1975 to 1977, they could never quite match their rivals on the European scene. They reached the final of the 1977 European Cup but went down 3-1 to Liverpool in Rome. On the other hand, they did strike gold in the UEFA Cup in 1975 and 1979.
Bayern's 7-1 win at Gladbach in 1979 – the biggest margin of victory in this fixture – signalled the end of their duopoly. While Bayern continued to enjoy unparalleled success throughout the 1980s and beyond, Gladbach could never quite recapture the magic of their glory days. They narrowly missed out on the title in 1984 – finishing third behind VfB Stuttgart on goal difference – and their only domestic trophy of the past four decades has been the DFB Cup in 1995.
Yet while the modern-day rivalry between the two clubs has lost a little of its spark, Gladbach boast one of the better recent records against Bayern. Though they have not prevented the record champions from winning the last nine Bundesliga titles – taking their haul to a staggering 30 – the Foals have often proved a thorn in the Bavarians' side, claiming eight wins at the expense of their old foes since the start of the 2011/12 campaign, including a 3-2 triumph in January.
That is a result they will be looking to repeat again on opening night 2021/22, and if five goals are distributed in such a way, it would make for a spectacular start to the new Bundesliga season.