Why the Dortmund-Bayern Rivalry Doesn't Come Close to Barcelona and Real Madrid
This Saturday, all eyes will be focused on Wembley Stadium as two of the finest German club sides in Bundesliga history lock horns in the Champions League final—but it's not the sexy matchup everyone so desperately wanted.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have been the best two teams in the competition this season and no one can begrudge them their moment in the limelight.
But from a PR perspective, it's a ratings disaster.
No Barcelona plus no Real Madrid equals drastically reduced worldwide interest.
Can their rivalry ever equate to El Clasico?
Not this year.
But if both sides become legitimate contenders in the long-term, they may benefit from learning a thing or two from their Spanish counterparts.
The bitter rivalry of El Clasico dates back as early as the 1930s when Barcelona was seen as a symbol of Catalan pride and identity that opposed Madrid's more centralising tendencies.
Fans have a long memory and the fact that the sides have been the elite for so long in Spanish football has made their clashes all the more enticing.
Their first league meeting was in 1929 (Madrid won 2-1) and 165 more matches have been played since.
Just six wins separate them, with Madrid leading Barca 70 to 64 with 32 draws.
The Dortmund-Bayern rivalry is a lot younger, with no bad blood between the sides before the 1990s.
Are you disappointed with this year's final two?
Bayern were simply too dominant, winning the title 12 times (23 total) to Dortmund's three during that same period.
And although Dortmund's recent rise to prominence has been one of intense interest, the fact is the history is simply not there.
If one is asked about the fiercest rivalries in world football, Real Madrid vs. Barcelona would surely be at the top. Inter Milan vs. Juventus, Manchester United vs. Liverpool and Benfica vs. Sporting Lisbon all arguably transcend Dortmund vs. Bayern.
The very fact the game is being called Der Klassiker, a direct reference to El Clasico, shows just how much the game is trying in vain to be on par with their Spanish counterparts.
Perhaps history is overrated and the time for real rivalry is the present. And for many fans who live in the moment, that rings very true.
But professional sport is all about history, tradition, records and statistics. It's what develops rivalries, causes conflict and allows friends to spend endless hours arguing over a beer or three.
Everyone has an opinion about the big games and the big teams, but do they have one about these two German heavyweights?
Probably to Bayern Munich, probably not to Dortmund.
Now let's address the potential players on show.
Ronaldo vs. Messi is the greatest present day matchup bar none—maybe the best ever. It's a marketer's dream to promote a clash between these two.
Mario Gomez vs. Mario Goetze doesn't quite have the same ring unless you tie it in with a certain well-known video game.
The fact the latter has agreed to a $48 million transfer, according to Sky Sports, to the opposition on July 1 is another reason why these two teams are not quite huge rivals yet.
That just wouldn't happen in Spain and it certainly wouldn't be announced before the biggest game in club history.
Luis Figo was met with a pig's head on his return to Camp Nou when he joined Real from Barcelona in 2000. Somehow I don't think we'll see any animal remains thrown onto Wembley's pitch this weekend.
And with Goetze now set to watch the game from the stands because of injury, per the Daily Star, Ilkay Gundogan looks to be the key man for Dortmund—hardly a household name.
It takes two to tango, and although Saturday's game could be a classic, whatever happens, Der Klassiker is no El Clasico.
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