There are fiercer German footballing rivalries, but no Bundesliga fixture attracts more interest, domestically and internationally, than Bayern against Dortmund. DW Sports' Jefferson Chase explains why.
Fans of Bayern and Dortmund are split as to whether they like the fixture featuring their two teams being referred to as "Der Klassiker." But there is no doubt that, at the moment, this is the Bundesliga's premier product. Just ask Bayern's coach, who experienced more than his share of big matches at Barcelona.
"Every country has its special fixture," Pep Guardiola said, as his chargers readied themselves for Sunday's home clash against Dortmund. "Everyone wants to see this one."
Opponents of the appellation "Der Klassiker" object to the fact that it is Germanization of Spain's "El Clasico" and protest that Bayern versus Dortmund is hardly a contest between clubs of roughly equivalent size, as is the case with Barcelona and Real Madrid. But as Guardiola clearly appreciates, Bayern versus Dortmund reflects the unique constellation of the Bundesliga - which is part of its charm.
Goliath versus Goliath battles may arguably produce better football, but it's hard to beat David versus Goliath for drama. It may seem strange to cast Dortmund, the team that leads Europe in average home attendance, in the role of the small-statured underdog. But whether it's in terms of assets, turnover, squad value or number of titles won, the Bavarians are a much bigger outfit than the boys from in yellow and black.
And that makes it all the more intriguing that Dortmund have won five of their last ten against Bayern in all competitions, including an unlikely 5-2 blow-out in the 2012 German Cup final. Bayern may not loathe and fear Dortmund in the same way that Barcelona and Real Madrid do each other, but the West Germans do have a knack for getting up the Reds' noses in entertaining fashion.
That's what has captivated the imagination of football fans around the world. Ever since the two teams met in a captivating Champions League final in 2013, the word is out that this is fixture worth following.
Munich is a wealthy and large city compared to the smaller, poorer and more working-class Dortmund. That adds a spice to the mix that isn't present in any of the top fixtures in, for instance, England. And the fact that Bayern used their financial might to lure away top Dortmund players Mario Götze and Robert Lewandowski means there is no shortage of good storylines.
For all of these reasons, Bayern Munich versus Borussia Dortmund deserves to be called "Der Klassiker."