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Memorable Monday: The Bayern Munich/Borussa Mönchengladbach Rivalry

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The 1960s and the 1970s were exciting years for the Bundesliga, especially in light of the fact that one of the greatest rivalries of the Bundesliga formed in those years. Both Bayern and Borussia Mönchengladbach were promoted in 1965 to the Bundesliga but only one of them stood the test of time.

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Bayern Munich officially announced themselves and their arrival in 1969 by winning the title. But Borussia Mönchengladbach, led by a crop of young and exciting players set up around Günter Netzer, had other plans. They won the title in back-to-back years, in 1970 and 1971. Gladbach was the light of the North, the entertainers who would rather win "6-5 than 1-0" (Hennes Weisweiler). They scored on average 3.4 goals a game between 1968 and 1977, the era of the rivalry.

Bayern, viewed as un upholder of the virtues of the conservative South during a time in which Germany was searching for a cultural identity separate from that of the Americans and the British, actually outscored them. Considering the "bad guy" devoid of excitement, Bayern on average put in 3.68 goals past their rivals. I am not quite sure why Bayern were not known for being as exciting as the Foals. One of the reasons might be that they did not often risk as much as the Foals did with their open style of play. Losses like the 7-0 which Gladbach suffered to Bremen happened very rarely to Bayern.

The term "Bayern Düsel" came about during these years. Bayern could calculate probabilities better and win 1-0 when they needed to according to opposition fans. Luck was seemingly always on their side (we would consider Bayern to be rather unlucky today in light of European Cup losses).

Hence, the hipsters and the youngsters, much like with Borussia Dortmund, chose to follow Gladbach. Following the Foals was about much more than just following a football team. The team became an identity; a fan showed off his/her identity as individualistic and open minded in following Gladbach.

Those fans were quite unhappy though when Franz Beckenbauer's Bayern undid that young and exciting side. Bayern reeled of three straight successes between 1972 and 1974. In December 1973, in one of the best matches of the Bundesliga to date, Bayern beat Gladbach 4-3 after going down 2-1. Those points proved to be vital as Bayern went on to clinch the title by just two points. Also, of course, they thrashed Atletico in Madrid to win the first of three European Cup finals.

The European Cup would prove to be the trophy which would comfort Bayern in the next few years (rather hard for fans of today's Bayern to relate to) as Gladbach matched Bayern's feat, winning a hattrick off Bundesliga titles between 1975 and 1977. 1977 would prove to be the end of the famous rivalry and rather ironically, it would be Köln, Gladbach's fierce local rivals, who would end it by winning the title on goal difference. Gladbach finished in second while Bayern were found in twelfth, busy covering themselves with glory in Europe but languishing closer to the relegation zone than the top spots in the league.

The Gladbach of the Netzer period (he joined Real in 1973) was one of the greatest sides of German football history. Netzer himself embodied so much of the spirit of Gladbach. He was brash, honest and rather brutal when it came to words. In the 1973 DFB Pokal finale, he refused to come on against Köln when Weisweiler left him on the bench at the start. At 1-1, he had a change of heart. He came on and scored the winner, a goal, while perhaps slightly accidental, went on to be voted "The Goal of the Season".

As for the European front, Gladbach might have become a serious European Cup rival for Bayern too had a twist of fate not denied them a possible spot (yes, they were good enough to make the final) in the final in 1971. In the second round, Gladbach beat Inter 7-1 in the first leg and lost the second 4-2. A spot in the next round was booked. But Inter, ever the fair side, complained to UEFA that one of their players was hit on the head by a soda can in the first match. UEFA annulled the result and Gladbach drew the replay 0-0. That little moment might have changed European history.

As for the national side, the players from both teams played together with the steeliness of the Kaiser and the vision of Netzer manning the midfield. Both teams made gave the national side many amazing names and resulted in one of the best matches the team ever played in their 1-3 victory over England in 1972 in Wembley.

Years later, many still pine for the rivalry. In 2001, champions of both Europe and Germany, Bayern squared off against Gladbach in the opening match of the season. Many compared the match to the old days when Gladbach could outdo Bayern because Bayern lost that opening day encounter.

Today's Gladbach is much more conservative than the Foals of the 60s and 70s. Yet, they beat Bayern this season, showing that they can perhaps one day match the team of those days. 1977 proved to be the year in which they would win their final Bundesliga title. Bayern did not win one until 1980. Afterwards though, they would go on to win 19 more, pulling of three title trebles.

Because Gladbach lost their way, the rivalry has lost its meaning in recent years. However, those two teams which pushed each other to be better in the 70s and 80s remain as two of the greatest sides in history. Even today, Bayern's team of the 70s is considered the greatest by some, although the team of 2012-13 comes close.

Maybe, someday, not too far from today, these two teams will play for the title. And may be, a Gladbach win will not hand Bayern the title and end Wolfsburg's hopes. After all, a golden rivalry only helps Bayern get better as witnessed by the rivalry with Dortmund.

Yet, one thing will never change. Bayern will always remain the evil one in the rivalry. They will always be the big bad bullies from the South who win it all. And they simply never go away.

*Thanks to USA TodayThe Football PinkESPNFCScottish FansWikipedia