There are always going to be winners and losers when you go into the final matchday with so much still up for grabs. The agony Borussia Dortmund suffered in their draw versus Mainz was the antithesis of Bayern’s delight at clinching yet another Bundesliga crown against the odds. The Bundesliga has had its fair share of dramatic final days, but this will go
Bayern went into the final matchday more in hope than anything else knowing that if Dortmund beat Mainz at home they would be crowned champions to deny the Bavarians an 11th consecutive title. If however is a big word in German football and the Nullfünfer refused to follow the script and pooped well and truly on the BVB party.
As it turned out Bayern were hugely thankful to Jamal Musiala’s 89th minute winner against Köln that in in the end saw them clinch the Meisterschale on goal difference. The doom mongers have been out in force of late, but when all is said and all is done, Bayern are the ones crowned Bundesliga champions (again).
The reactions of the key Bayern protagonists (minus Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidzic) summed up the satisfied surprise perfectly.
Thomas Tuchel: “When Leroy [Sane] didn’t score, I thought that this game summed up the whole time I’ve been in charge. A good, dominant start, a nice goal, deserved lead, everything in control, numerous chances to extend the lead, which we didn’t do – but then a number of unforced errors and technical inaccuracies slip in. We showed a reaction again today. Jamal made another statement. It’s indescribable. We have to be more goal-driven and more focused. But still, I’m pleased for the players and all the backroom staff.”
Thomas Müller: “It sends a tingle down your spine. It’s incredible. It makes you go crazy. What flashes through your mind when Jamal’s goal goes in, that’s special. Anybody interested in German football will definitely subtly think that we don’t deserve it. I can understand that. The second half of our season was chaotic. But this moment is still incredible for the team. It’s something you’ll remember. It’s electric right now.”
Jamal Musiala: “It was an incredible moment. I didn’t think too much, just celebrated. It took at least a minute till I checked. I had to give everything, we had nothing to lose. It wasn’t a good season from us, we know that. But we’re still incredibly happy to be champions. Now we’ll really celebrate.”
Herbert Hainer: “What an end to the season. We’re delighted to have won this title race in the final metres. Huge credit goes to head coach Thomas Tuchel, his backroom staff, our players, everyone at the club who played their part. Julian Nagelsmann and his coaching staff have also earned our thanks, also played their part in this success. Eleven titles in a row – FC Bayern has once again made history. But despite this record, we know that we need to step things up again next season to better match our aspirations and those of our fans.”
Oh Borussia Dortmund what did you do? The whole build-up to the game at the Signal Iduna Park was one of huge expectation, but just hours later the mood of complete despondency was overpowering.
All they had to do was beat a Mainz side that had lost its previous four matches and a first title since 2012 was theirs. The form team of the Rückrunde looked perfectly placed to end Bayern’s decade long dominance and spark celebration that the city of Dortmund has long been waiting for.
In the end the 2-2 draw wasn’t sufficient to see them over the line thanks to Jamal Musiala’s winner at the Rhein Energie Stadion. In all honesty, going 2-0 down to Mainz in the first half was their downfall, and everything they tried just seemed to come up blank (or against an inspired Finn Dahmen).
At the final whistle the Signal Iduna Park pitch was strewn with distraught Dortmund players fully cognisant of the massive opportunity they had let slip. Trainer Edin Terzic was the one forced to confront the post-match microphoned and give his take on the title loss.
“Not only the team, not only the stadium, not only the whole city believed in the victory today. We started well, had control and managed to create chances” he said. “After the first goal we conceded and especially after the second, you could see how heavy the ball and our legs became. We needed time to get clarity back in our game.
“At the half-time break, the boys believed that the season has been so crazy that we could turn this around too. We tried everything until the end. You can see how tough this sport that we’ve fallen in love with can be. It’s extremely painful: there was no happy ending for us this season.
“They’ve [the fans] been there from day one. It hurts so much that we couldn’t reward them today. But we will do. It will just take slightly longer. Regardless of how great the pain is today, it will be the motivation for tomorrow. We were so close. One goal was missing. We were on a really good track in the second half of the season especially. It will be rewarded one day.”
Agony and ecstasy are the two sides of the footballing coin and while one brings untold joy, the other brings a level of despair that hits you like a hammer to the solar plexus. The Bundesliga cookie crumbled in Bayern’s favour this weekend, while Borussia Dortmund just crumbled.
As Sir Alex Ferguson once said: ‘Football eh? Bloody hell.’