Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund are locked in a fierce battle for the Bundesliga title, and there's one point in it with five games left to play. How will the story of a titanic tussle at the top unfold? You decide.
There are five games to go in the Bundesliga title race, and despite the latest installment of Der Klassiker's being more of a marketing face-plant than an edge-of-your-seat affair, there's still only one point in it. Everything is to play for. Will Bayern win their seventh straight title or can Borussia Dortmund upset the odds to secure their first title since 2011-12? Who wins? You decide. Go to THE ANFANG to begin (that's German for start/beginning).
It's Matchday 30 in the Bundesliga. Despite Max Kruse giving Werder Bremen the lead, Bayern Munich turned it around to seal a 3-1 win on Saturday afternoon. That leaves Borussia Dortmund four points back, knowing they need a win against Freiburg to stay in the title race. Lucien Favre, dismayed by his side's second-half showing against Mainz is stumped at what to do next. A big selection decision looms. Do you stick with Thomas Delaney and Axel Witsel holding, and the front four of Sancho, Reus, Bruun Larsen – Götze to guide you home, or do you roll the dice and go all out with Witsel holding on his own behind Guerreiro, Reus, Götze, Sancho – Alcacer?
If you choose to stick, scroll down to FAVRE FUSSBALL. If you choose to go all out, scroll down to FURIOUS FUSSBALL.
The decision pays off. Dortmund smash Freiburg as Mainz did but they pay a heavy price for ignoring the advice of the physio. Raphael Guerreiro and Paco Alcacaer suffer season-ending injuries, which sparks concern in the camp. Dortmund struggle through the week, and by the time the Revierderby arrives Marco Reus is also out. Favre panics, recalls Alexander Isak from his loan spell. With Schalke producing their best performance of the season out of nowhere and the game poised at 1-1, Isak hits the bar with a penalty. Schalke counter, and Ahmed Kutucu breaks Dortmund's hearts with a low drive that wins the game. Favre's side never recover, limping their way to the end of the season and allowing Bayern to cruise to a seventh straight title.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS HERE.
A more conservative approach sees Favre leave Paco Alcacer on the bench. Mario Götze takes up the mantle brilliantly, scoring his first Bundesliga brace since May 2016 before sending out a cryptic tweet that many assume is aimed at Joachim Löw: "sHoW tHe wOrLd yOu'Re bEtTeR tHaN mEsSi."
The sole blemish on an otherwise tidy 2-0 win, was Axel Witsel being sent for an early shower when he lashed out after having his hair pulled by Mike Frantz. Not a good look for the new RocNation client with Jay-Z in attendance at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
The Revierderby the following week is a happy formality against a hapless Schalke side. Even Julian Weigl got in among the goals as a Witsel-less Dortmund kept cool in a heated affair to cruise to victory. While the defeat forced Huub Stevens to enroll in a yoga retreat in Bali, the pressure was on Kovac to maintain status quo in the title race.
The night before the Nuremberg game, the Croatian is unable to sleep due to a recurring nightmare in which Nuremberg's players were wearing Liverpool kits making him question his selection choice.
If you choose to field the B-Team, scroll down to KOVAC KIDS. If you choose to play the first team, scroll down to KNOW-HOW NIKO.
Trusting in his best players, Bayern record their biggest-ever Bundesliga win, destroying Nuremberg 12-0. Robert Lewandowski scores five in the first eight minutes, and celebrates by revealing a shirt with Luka Jovic's face on it accompanied by the words "I did it first." Bayern never look back and go perfect until the end of the season, scoring 20 goals in their final four games. The German record title-holders' celebrations are endless, with media reports suggesting that Hoeness gave Kovac the honor of a personal beer shower in the dressing room in Frankfurt. At the end of the season, the departure of 'Robbery' is emotional. Franck Ribery buys the squad golden steaks branded with the number seven, while Arjen Robben donates knee and ankle ligaments for further research by Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS HERE.
With Manuel Neuer officially out for the season, 30-year-old Sven Ulreich is handed the captaincy on account of being at least three years older than the other members of Bayern's starting lineup. Joshua Kimmich, playing in midfield, completes just 10 per cent of his passes, but Alphonso Davies and Woo-yeong Jeong catch the eye.
For all their endeavor, Bayern's end product suffers and they have to rely on a deflected 30-yard effort from Renato Sanches to edge past Nuremberg. The Portuguese international later claims the winner was "a homage to the time I spent in Swansea."
After the narrow win, club President Uli Hoeness publicly questions Kovac's competency, stating that his decision to field a B-Team was Respektlos (disrespectful) to the traveling Bayern fans. The team comes to Kovac's defense and, after he names a full-strength squad, Bayern put on a sterling performance that leaves Hannover dazzled by FC Hollywood. Hoeness, slightlier happier after the 4-0 win, muses over next season with his evening cigar and pear schnapps and makes a snap decision to submit an €85-million ($95.6 million) bid for Jadon Sancho. Dortmund flat out reject the bid, but after the "Munich Mole" gets wind of the story, the news threatens to unsettle the teenager.
Even more concerning for Favre, the club learns that the England international has changed his mind and decided to trust German barbers following a fall out over a new type of fade. Keen to avoid another hairdressing headline, the Swiss head coach has to make a big decision and keeps a close eye on his star pupil in the final training session. Sancho looks sharp ahead of Matchday 32's clash with Bremen, but where is his head at?
If you choose to pick Sancho in the team, scroll down to SANCHO STARTS. If you choose to drop Sancho, scroll down to SANCHO SITS.
Unamused on the bench, Sancho uses the time to reconcile with his former barber via WhatsApp. Favre is furious but too distracted by the game, one that Borussia Dortmund struggle in as Marius Wolf cannot shake off his newfound defensive talents in a more advanced role. Christian Pulisic starts, but at one point microphones near the dugout pick up the American talking to Sancho about the price of a four-bed, three-bath property in South Kensington. With Dortmund in disarray, Bremen take full advantage and repeat their cup heroics. The 3-0 defeat for BVB sparks dissent in the ranks and, with Dortmund dropping more points, Bayern calmly navigate the final part of the season to seal the title despite a final-day defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS HERE.
Not deterred by the drama being drummed up in the press, Sancho's impact shows no sign of fading as he completes 98 percent of his nutmegs and delivers three superb assists in a 4-1 win to stay Europe's top provider ahead of Lionel Messi.
Talking to Sky Germany after the game, the teenager reiterates his love for the club and laughs off the transfer rumors, saying: "I'm in Marco's camp about not joining Bayern. And after hearing what Mario [Götze] had to say about Bavarian cuisine, I have no desire to live in a city where people eat white sausage and drink wheat beer at 10 in the morning. And what's all this rage about sweet mustard? Give me a Brinkhoffs and chips any day. Pommes for life!"
After handling a potential crisis and getting the win in Bremen, Favre has Dortmund in top gear. The following weekend, BVB are 3-0 up at halftime against Fortuna Düsseldorf in the penultimate game of the season.
News of Dortmund's rampant display filters through to Leipzig, where Timo Werner has been looking lively and already has one goal to his name at the break. With the scores locked at 1-1, Niko Kovac has to consider what to do for the second half.
If you choose to man mark Timo Werner, scroll down to TIMO TINKER. If you choose to stick to the game-plan, scroll down to RESPECT RALF.
Opting to take Werner out of the game, Kovac turns to Niklas Süle and asks him to mark the Germany striker. Mats Hummels, on the other side of the dressing room, gets wind of this and challenges Süle to a game of rock, paper, scissors. Hummels wins (by playing water balloon), but the move doesn't pay off for Bayern. Werner gives Hummels a torrid time, and finishes the day with a hat trick. Bayern find an answer from Robert Lewandowski, but fall short and lose. Buzzing on success, Werner lets slip that he's decided to join Bayern at the end of the season: "This season really has given me wings," Werner said afterwards. However, after putting their title build on the ropes, Uli Hoeness pulls out of the deal and signs Mauro Icardi instead. While Bayern dream of next year, the current campaign ends in a whimper. A draw on the final day opens the door even further for Borussia Dortmund, who march in to claim the title.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS HERE.
Kovac's decision to believe in the collective strategy pays dividends. Bayern dominate, securing 80 percent possession in the second half and making Yussuf Poulsen and Timo Werner looking like lost tourists trying to find a perfect Instagram shot - #awaydays.
At the other end, Kingsley Coman scores the winner and celebrates by pretending to knock out Robert Lewandowski. Not even the news of Dortmund's 5-0 win against Fortuna Düsseldorf can dampen the mood in Munich, as Kovac's side continue to sit top of the table, knowing their fate is in their own hands on the final day. Buoyant, the squad agrees to a photo shoot at the 55th Munich Frühlingsfest in full Lederhosen. During the shoot, Sven Ulreich, the number one until the end of the season, drops a Mass on his foot while recanting tales from the time he won the Goldene Handschuh from the acclaimed 1999 goalkeeping website torwart.de. Ulreich breaks his big toe, forcing Bayern to play Christian Früchtl in the season finale.
On the final day, Dortmund are in Mönchengladbach while Bayern are at home against Eintracht Frankfurt. Two minutes in, the T-Mobile jingle sounds in the Allianz Arena and the home crowd groans as they see Marco Reus has given Dortmund a very early lead.
Two minutes later, the Munich crowd hold their collective breath when Luka Jovic, superbly controlling a flick on from Sebastien Haller, bursts into the box and, although Christian Früchtl gets a fingertip to the ball, he also clatters into Jovic. The referee points to the spot, but VAR calls and recommends a review. What now?
If you choose not to award the penalty, scroll down to VAR-Y CLOSE. If you choose to award the penalty, scroll down to VAR-Y HARSH. If you choose to award the penalty AND send off Christian Früchtl, then scroll down to VAR-Y BRAVE.
Seeing the fingertip as decisive, the referee draws a box in the air and points for a corner. The Allianz Arena erupts, which only further incenses the Frankfurt players.
Früchtl plays a blinder which leads to morning headlines of "Früchtl ripe for Germany call-up", but he wasn't the biggest story of the afternoon. That was Arjen Robben, who came off the bench with Bayern 4-0 up. Knowing the game was beyond reach, the Frankfurt players created a guard of honor from the right wing to the edge of the box, allowing the Flying Dutchman to score one last trademark left-footed goal.
The traditional beer showers commence, but no one tells Alphonso Davies about the strength of Bavarian brewed beer and the Canadian ends up falling asleep under a blanket on the bench.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS WITH BAYERN MUNICH WINNING THE TITLE.
Decision stands! Luka Jovic coolly converts the penalty to hand Frankfurt a precious lead, closing the gap on Bundesliga top scorer Robert Lewandowski to a single goal. The Eagles shut up shop to absorb Bayern's relentless pressure for the remaining 86 minutes. By the end of the game Frankfurt have eight defenders on the pitch.
Substitute Arjen Robben thinks he's scored the equalizer, but after injuring himself in the celebration sees the referee chalk his effort off for offside shortly before blowing the final whistle. Bayern are devastated. But then…the T-Mobile jingle sounds again.
Borussia Dortmund-bound Thorgan Hazard has scored a 94th-minute equalizer for Gladbach. Initially there's confusion. Then in realizing they have a superior goal difference, a wave of euphoria sweeps around the stadium. As if to make it even sweeter, it turned out the Belgian had won Bayern the title by scoring an indirect free-kick in the box. Flashbacks to 2001.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS WITH BAYERN MUNICH WINNING THE TITLE ON GOAL DIFFERENCE.
With Früchtl sent off and Bayern without a first, second or third-choice keeper, chants of "Bring Starke back" ring around the stadium. Tom is in attendance, but has already enjoyed the spoils of the club's VIP box, which forces Kovac to resort to desperate measures. Who to turn to? Mr. Versatile – Joshua Kimmich.
The German international dons gloves four hand sizes too big for him which prove the decisive factor in him reaching Jovic's cheeky Panenka. Sadly for Bayern that was the limit of Kimmich's goalkeeping heroics. With Frankfurt 2-1 up, Kimmich went up for what would be the last corner of the game. Martin Hinteregger produces a no-nonsense clearance which sets Ante Rebic in the clear.
The Croatian hits an effort from inside his own half, before pointing to the crowd as the ball trickles over the line. Cameras quickly pan to a jubilant Kevin-Prince Boateng wearing a "Bruder, schlag den Ball lang" T-shirt.
As the final whistle goes, Bayern's misery is compounded as their seventh straight title slips through their fingers with news of Marco Reus doubling Dortmund's advantage in Gladbach.
While initial designs of a Marco Reus bust by Emanuel Santos leak online during Dortmund's parade around Borsigplatz, a photo emerges in the Munich press showing Uli Hoeness' phone with seven missed calls from a man named Jose.
YOUR BUNDESLIGA TITLE RACE STORY ENDS WITH BORUSSIA DORTMUND WINNING THE TITLE.
Disclaimer: Don't worry. Just because you've reached the end of this article doesn't mean the Bundesliga title race really is over. We can't see into the future! There are still five games to go and one point in it. Enjoy the roller-coaster ride that is the final part of the season!