From its first year right up to its 50th, the Bundesliga has provided legendary games, heart-wrenching stories and no shortage of drama and emotion. In the third instalment of our three-part series focusing on final day roller-coasters, bundesliga.com brings you the most thrilling season finales involving clubs vying to be crowned Bundesliga champions.
Borussia Dortmund and 1860 Munich went into the penultimate game of the 1965/66 season level on 47 points and about to play each other. The Lions struck the decisive blow and managed to grind out a 2-0 win thanks to goals from Rudolf Brunnenmeier and Peter Grosser (pictured). The victory sent them top of the league, a position they didn’t yield. A 1-1 draw with Hamburger SV made sure of the title, 1860’s one and only league triumph, after Dortmund lost 4-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt
1860 were again within sight of winning the Bundesliga title with one game to play the following season, but this time luck deserted them. Lying third in the table, they went into their game against second-placed Eintracht Frankfurt two points behind Eintracht Braunschweig at the table’s summit. The Bavarians held up their end of the bargain by beating Frankfurt 2-1, but Braunschweig coasted to a 4-1 win over 1. FC Nuremberg to deny the Lions and give the Lower Saxons their single Bundesliga title to date.
The situation at the top of the table going into the final round of games has rarely been tighter than in the 1971/72 season. FC Schalke 04 travelled to league leaders FC Bayern Munich with just two points separating the sides. Both sets of players were confident of victory before kick-off, but in the end it was a clear win for the hosts, who ran out 5-1 victors. Captain and Germany legend Franz Beckenbauer certainly enjoyed raising the Bundesliga trophy aloft after what was also Bayern's very first game at Munich’s Olympic Stadium.
In 1984, VfB Stuttgart had laid the groundwork for lifting the league title by beating Werder Bremen the previous weekend thanks to a winning goal from veteran forward Herrmann Ohrlicher. It meant that the Swabians had a two-point cushion* over their nearest rivals Hamburger SV and Borussia Mönchengladbach, as well as a healthier goal difference. They could only lose the title if they were beaten 5-0 by HSV in their final game. Hamburg did win in Stuttgart on the season’s final day, but only by a single goal. VfB thus celebrated their first-ever Bundesliga crown.
Werder Bremen’s Michael Kutzop (l.) may never forget the conclusion to the 1985/86 season. In the penultimate game of the season, he could have wrapped up the championship with a last-minute penalty against title rivals FC Bayern Munich. However, he struck the post and the game ended goalless; Bremen would have won the league had he scored. Instead they had to better Bayern’s result at home to Borussia Mönchengladbach when they travelled to VfB Stuttgart on Matchday 34. Kutzop & Co. lost 2-1 and Bayern celebrated the Meisterschaft after winning 6-0.
In 50 years of the Bundesliga history, there has surely not been a more sensational finale to a season than in 2000/01. FC Schalke 04 were second, three points behind FC Bayern going into Matchday 34. They needed to beat SpVgg Unterhaching and hope Bayern would lose at Hamburger SV. Leading 5-3, Schalke fans turned their attention to Hamburg and began to celebrate wildly when HSV made it 1-0 in the 90th minute. In the final seconds, however, HSV keeper Mathias Schober handled a back-pass and Patrik Andersson thundered in an indirect free-kick to equalise. The news filtered through to Gelsenkirchen, and the tears began to flow from Mike Büskens (r.) and his team-mates. Bayern had claimed their 15th Bundesliga crown in the most dramatic circumstances.
In 2004, table-toppers Bremen travelled to Munich to face second-placed FC Bayern knowing a win would see them crowned champions, as Werder already had a six-point lead. Coach Thomas Schaaf picked an attack-minded team and it paid handsome dividends as Bremen raced 3-0 ahead inside the first half, with Brazilian striker Ailton scoring the third, a beautiful curler past Oliver Kahn. The visitors ran out 3-1 winnners and wrapped up the Championship in style, effecting the departure of Bayern coach Ottmar Hitzfeld soon afterwards. Schaaf’s men also won the DFB Cup a few weeks later with victory over Alemannia Aachen.
In the weeks leading up to the final day in 2008/09, Bayern had parted ways with head coach Jürgen Klinsmann and recalled Jupp Heynckes to the hot-seat. Results began to improve immediately under the experienced coach and Bayern were just a point behind leaders VfL Wolfsburg heading into Matchday 34’s action. The Reds had to defeat third-placed VfB Stuttgart and hope Wolfsburg dropped points in Bremen. They did their bit and edged a 2-1 win, but there was to be no stopping Felix Magath’s Wolfsburg, who romped to a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen and celebrated their maiden Bundesliga crown.
*Two points were awarded for a victory at this time, until the three-point rule for a victory was introduced for the start of the 1995/96 season