Borussia Dortmund throws away the title to Bayern Munich
The newly crowned German champion was scheduled to start his parade on Sunday at 12:09 p.m. sharp. They ended Bayern Munich’s decade of dominance, signed their names in Dortmund’s celebratory Golden Book, and then rolled through the yellow-lined streets in an open-topped bus. They did a lap and a half around Borsigplatz, the birthplace of Borussia Dortmund. They meandered southwest and through downtown, saluting hundreds of thousands of cheering fans as they went.
At least that’s how Dortmund, the city and their football club had planned to celebrate their upcoming Bundesliga title in 2022/23.
Instead, Borussia Dortmund screwed up on Saturday – and Bayern won again.
All Dortmund needed was a win over Mainz, a nondescript side who had lost four games in a row and had nothing to win. Instead, in front of an expectant and deafening crowd of 81,365 spectators, thousands more preparing to explode in cheers outside, Dortmund conceded an early goal, then missed a penalty and then conceded again.
At the same time Bayern final in Cologne, they drew fleeting hope and jubilation. The hosts wiped out Bayern’s 1-0 lead and Dortmund held the title for four, five, six, seven minutes. The news reached Signal Iduna Park and reignited the situation. Dortmund still lost 2-1, but their fans started their outburst anyway.
Then came the cruel, crushing blow. Jamal Musiala turned and gave Bayern a 2-1 lead, back at the top of the table and their 11th straight title.
Dortmund equalized with a minute left in injury time but needed a winner and couldn’t find one.
After a frantic final kick, with the Bayern players in Cologne watching on Thomas Müller’s phone, the Dortmund players heard the final whistle and fell towards the ground. In their stadium, one of the great cauldrons of football, there was the greatest possible silence. And Bayern’s winning streak entered its second decade.
This had clearly been Dortmund’s golden chance to end a picture-perfect season of dramatic goals that happened to coincide with Bayern’s worst season since 2010/11. As always, Bayern stormed to the top of the table in November; But over the winter they had unusually stumbled. In January, February and March they dropped point by point – after which they unusually panicked.
They were still the big favorites in the Bundesliga and, by most standards, the second best team in all of Europe. But they fired coach Julian Nagelsmann, hired former Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel and accelerated their spiral. They won just five of their next 11 games. Eliminated from the German Cup and Champions League, they were eliminated by the Bundesliga in their eleventh game, losing 3-1 at home to RB Leipzig last weekend.
The next day, Dortmund was victorious and, hand in hand with a bustling city, began planning the parade.
“Several hundred thousand people are expected in the city for a possible title celebration,” the club said on its official website. “Several hundred security forces would be deployed. There would be a ban on glass along the route. There would be temporary road closures.”
Dortmund’s Lord Mayor Thomas Westphal even said: “We assume that the team will not miss anything.”
But it was another politician’s bold statement that proved prescient. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder had said in the Bayern defeat in April: “The Dortmunders are actually almost too stupid to become German champions. I’m very optimistic.”
Dortmund rose to the top of the table three times, once each in March, April and May. And every time they failed to win their next game. The first of three events was an implosion at Bayern’s Allianz Arena on April 1st. However, Saturday’s third was the most heartbreaking.
The Dortmund players sat motionless on the field under the bright evening sun while the Bayern players sprinted towards their traveling fans in Cologne. They sat empty as the Bayern stars accepted their annual winners’ medals and kissed the trophy.
As if to add insult to injury, amid the celebrations German media reported that Bayern were sacking their CEO and sporting director – that’s how unacceptable this Bayern season had been and Dortmund still couldn’t top it.
Finally, the players got up to meet their fans, all of whom stayed and none of whom were visibly angry. Manager Edin Terzic stepped forward to greet them with a moved face but could hardly bear to show his face and hold it up.
The fans responded with clapping, scarves and singing. “We will always be Borussia,” they shouted in unison. “There is never, never another club.”
But there were tears under the scarves. ugly tears That had been the chance, the chance to bring down a machine. And Dortmund had clearly screwed it up.