German Football’s Greatest Games: Dortmund 2-0 Schalke, 2007

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Schalke 04 – Signal-Iduna-Park, 12 May 2007

If there is no bigger fixture in German football than the Revierderby, there can be few games bigger in German football history than a Revierderby that decided the Bundesliga title. 

In 2007 the two sides met in the penultimate game of the season with Schalke in a great position to become German champions for the first time since 1958. Win in Dortmund, and Schalke could wrap it up with a game to spare – if other results went their way. 

Schalke brought more than their allocation to the Westfalenstadion. The Veltins-Arena was packed too – huge screens had been placed on the pitch so that the many Schalke fans who couldn’t get a ticket for the away block could still watch the game together. The title party was already planned.

Schalke’s title to lose

Schalke had been close before. In 2001 they were famously champions for four minutes, storming the pitch in celebration before Bayern Munich equalised in Hamburg and snatched it away. This time though, it was in their hands. Two more wins and they would be champions, no matter what Stuttgart or Bremen did.

And Dortmund hadn’t had a good season. As late as April they’d been in the relegation zone, before Thomas Doll, their third coach of the year, led the side out with three consecutive wins heading into the derby. However, die Schwarzgelben’s record in the derby was quite frankly terrible, though. Since the turn of the century, they’d only managed to beat Schalke once, almost exactly two years prior. In the reverse fixture, the Royal Blues had won comfortably.

With the title on the line though, this one game meant more to Borussia and their fans than any derby before it. “It would be a dream”, said forward Nelson Haedo Valdez, “to break Schalke’s hearts”. On the flipside, a Schalke win would of course be a nightmare. What could be worse than allowing your biggest rivals to win their first national title for 49 years, their first ever Bundesliga title, in front of 80,000 fans in your stadium?

Schalke, coached by Mirko Slomka, started poorly. Alexander Frei had a good chance to give Dortmund the lead in the very first minute, but couldn’t get a clean contact. Other results were going Schalke’s way – Stuttgart and Bremen were both losing – but they needed a goal. Just before half-time, Hamit Altintop gave the ball away to Metzelder on the halfway line. Six seconds later, Frei had put it in the back of the net.

Slomka’s side went in a goal down, but still top of the table due to the scores elsewhere. That would change. Stuttgart turned things around in Bochum with two goals from Mario Gómez and Cacau, and Timo Hildebrand kept them in front with a stunning point-blank save from the league’s top scorer Theofanis Gekas. Could Schalke do the same? They were dominating possession, but not creating the better chances. Without a great double save from the young goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who had surprisingly replaced Frank Rost as No. 1 earlier in the season, it would have already been over.

Smolarek saves the season

Eventually, with just minutes left, the second goal came. A deflected shot ballooned up into the air, and the whole Schalke defence lost track of it. It fell to Euzebiusz Smolarek, all alone, who caught it sweetly on the way down and fired it past Neuer. Smolarek climbed over the advertising boards and leapt into the Südtribüne, creating one of the most iconic images in Borussia history.

And because of the location of their defeat, it wasn’t just desolation for Schalke, it was humiliation. Gleeful Dortmund fans held up a banner with a picture of the Meisterschale and text reading, Nur gucken, nicht anfassen – Look, but don’t touch. The phrase was taken from a famous advert for Schalke’s sponsor Veltins, featuring Schalke legend Rudi Assauer. A plane had also flown over the stadium with the message, Ein Leben lang, Keine Schale in der Hand. The fans sung those same words to the same tune as one of Schalke’s popular chants. And they were right. A week later, Stuttgart lifted the trophy instead.

Perhaps in an ordinary game, Schalke would have won. But the Revierderby never is an ordinary game, and especially not this one. This game meant everything to both teams, more than every other game that season combined. As BVB midfielder Marc-André Kruska later said, “With one game, we could save the whole season”. It no longer mattered that Dortmund had spent half the campaign in a relegation struggle, or that Schalke had actually had one of their best seasons ever. With one result, a great season became an extraordinarily painful one for Schalke, and a disastrous year for Dortmund created one of their fondest memories.

Borussia Dortmund: Weidenfeller, Metzelder, Brzenska, Wörns, Dede, Kruska, Kringe, Tinga, Pienaar, Smolarek, Frei – Subs: Gordon, Sahin, Valdez – Coach: Doll

Goals: Frei (44), Smolarek (85)

Schalke: Neuer, Rafinha, Boron, Krstajic, Pander, Hamit Altintop, Ernst, Lincoln, Asamoah, Özil, Kuranyi – Subs: Halil Altintop, Larsen, Kobiashvili – Coach: Slomka

This article is part of a new series on Bundesliga Fanatic entitled German Football’s Greatest Games. Celebrating 120 years since the first ever German football championship and 60 years since the first Bundesliga season, we’ll be going back through the country’s footballing history and writing about some of the most important and most memorable games Germany has ever seen.

Click the tag ‘German Football’s Greatest Games’ to see all the entries in the series.

About Louis Ostrowski 15 Articles
Louis is from England but has become a VfL Osnabrück fan, and is usually found tweeting about football kits or the 2. Bundesliga at @ostrl.

1 Trackback / Pingback

  1. ≫ Dortmund 2-0 Schalke, 2007 – Bundesliga Fanatic

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.