There will be a total of 12 Bavarian derbies in the Bundesliga this season, but, out of all the fixtures, those between Bayern Munich and Nuernberg will stand apart from the rest.
In Germany, the clash is commonly referred to as the Fraenkisch-Bairisches Derby to accommodate Nuernberg fans who consider themselves Franconian rather than Bavarian (Munich, by contrast, is part of Old Bavaria).
But regardless of the regional identity fans of each side prefer, the derby is one of Germany’s most heated rivalries, pitting clubs that are separated by just 169km on the A9 Autobahn.
Nuernberg were the original Rekordmeister, long before that title went to Munich. The Franconian side claimed German championships five times in the 1920s and earned four more German and regional titles in the decades that followed. Their presence waned after the formation of the Bundesliga, however; der Club only took the modern title once, in 1967-68.
Bayern Munich were therefore somewhat in the shadow of Nuernberg for many years. 1. FCN won the Bundesliga a year before their rivals did so for the first time, and it was not until 1987 that the Munich side claimed their 10th German championship, usurping Nuernberg’s title of Rekordmeister.
Although the competitiveness of the derby has cooled somewhat in recent years—as Bayern Munich have dominated their regional football, while Nuernberg have struggled just to stay in the 1. Bundesliga—the two sides have a rich history.
On their way to the 1967-68 Bundesliga title, Nuernberg delivered a 7-3 hammering to Bayern Munich, a match that is still regarded as one of der Club’s finest victories.
Bayern nonetheless hold the record for margin of victory in the derby, having comprehensively ousted their rivals 5-0 in 1994. The match was a replay of a fixture just days earlier that Bayern won due to a wrongful awarding of a goal. Nuernberg protested and had a chance to change their 2-1 loss shortly over a week later but instead suffered a humiliating defeat.
Even in the last decade, as FCN have been especially volatile, the two clubs have produced some very interesting games. In a 2003 DFB-Pokal tie, it took 17 penalties in a shootout to separate the two, with Bayern scraping their way past the second round following a 1-1 draw.
More recently, in April of 2011, it was a result with the same scoreline that prompted Louis van Gaal’s sacking as Bayern head coach.
Given their nearly immaculate record in the Bundesliga, Bayern enter Saturday’s match as clear favorites to take three points. Nuernberg—along with fellow Bavarian sides Fuerth and Augsburg—are flirting with relegation and would seemingly require a miracle to stop the Munich freight train.
A comparative glance at the squad sheets can be deceiving, however: Since 2005, Nuernberg have only lost to Bayern once at the Frankenstadion. History will therefore play in both teams' favor, making Saturday's fixture a real spectacle to watch.