Borussia Dortmund have been waiting 11 years for a Bundesliga title and almost as long for a decent result in a league game in Munich.
You have to go all the way back to April 2014 for the last time the Schwarzgelben travelled to the Allianz Arena for a Bundesliga match and left with something. Bayern, in their first campaign under Pep Guardiola were 20 points clear at the time and had already sealed the title anyway.
Dortmund had to wait another five years for a meaningful meeting in Munich and they arrived top of the table, two points clear, in April 2019, before leaving battered and bruised. A 5-0 win for the hosts sent Bayern Munich back to top spot in their first season under Niko Kovač and they stayed there.
It’s April once again and Dortmund are top the table again as they make the journey south this weekend to take on the team they are desperate to finally pip to the title.
And it is the last Dortmund coach to win at Bayern — in a DFB-Pokal semi-final six years ago — who has stolen all the pre-match headlines. Thomas Tuchel went on to win that DFB-Pokal, claiming his sole trophy in two seasons at Dortmund before the club cut ties.
“I think we’d rather not talk about that now,” Tuchel said on Friday when quizzed on his infamously rocky relationship with the club’s bosses.
“Six years have passed since. It’s been far too long to hold grudges.”
Grudges aside, there is a title at stake and Tuchel has been parachuted in with Bayern fearing sitting on their hands could cost them an 11th consecutive Bundesliga as well as a crack at the Champions League. Julian Nagelsmann’s exit shocked the footballing world over the international break but Dortmund have picked up 10 points more than Bayern in 2023.
Maybe there was a slide that had to be arrested? If so, they’ve appointed Tuchel as constable and tasked him with no less than delivering the league. The only issue, of course, is the fact Dortmund could be four points clear by the time Saturday draws to a close.
This isn’t the first time Bayern have acted immediately before hosting Dortmund, with Hansi Flick’s first game (as an interim at the time) coming in the same fixture in November 2019. He, of course, went on to lead the German giants to the treble in less than a year.
But this does finally feel like a different Dortmund in 2023. Edin Terzić’s side put together a club-record equalling winning run to kick off the year and are 11 unbeaten, with 10 wins, since the league restarted.
From the Bundesliga’s most consistently impressive goalkeeper, through the steely backline, into midfield with Emre Can in the form of his life allowing Raphaël Guerreiro and Jude Bellingham to shine, all the way to the frontline with the electric Karim Adeyemi and mercurial Messrs Reus and Brandt.
Now, after eight Bundesliga defeats in a row at the Allianz, it’s time for the ultimate test. Pass it and Dortmund have a cushion and a clean run at the title the non-Bayern world has been waiting for.