At Bavarian Football Works, we are using this midseason break to expose ourselves (phrasing!). When working on Bayern Munich news and opinions on 24x7x365 basis, the entire staff develops some very good — and some very, very bad — takes. Whether these takes are relevant to past, present, or future opinions, we are going to let you in on some of the stupid things we think as part of a series. Without further ado, BFW will let is all hang out (damn it! phrasing again!).
Bayern Munich has had many rivals come and go throughout its history. While the ideal rivalry in soccer is a local derby, Bayern’s local rivals play outside of the Bundesliga more often than not. The Munich Derby with Munich 1860 now takes place in the 3. Liga, albeit between 1860 and Bayern II. The Bavarian Derby between Bayern and 1. FC Nürnberg was once the Bundesliga’s most prominent rivalries, but FCN have had troubles staying up in the past decade. In fact, the only other Bavarian team currently playing in the Bundesliga is Augsburg. That is probably a pretty big game each time for Augsburg, but I don’t think many would consider it to be great rivalry between the two clubs.
Since Bayern established itself as the dominant force in the Bundesliga, other teams from all over Germany have stepped up as rivals. The most ardent opponents in decades past were teams like 1. FC Kaiserslautern, Hamburg, Schalke, and Werder Bremen. These teams are either in lower divisions or on the brink of being relegated each year. Teams like Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach have also given Bayern fits, but Bayern continues to hold them at bay. However, most will agree that over the last few decades, Bayern’s top rival has been Borussia Dortmund.
Der Klassiker has had its fair share of big moments and great memories – especially for Bayern fans – but I think that this rivalry too will go to the wayside and another rival will emerge. My prediction is that this rival will be RB Leipzig. I know that a lot of people have a problem with Leipzig, especially their rise to prominence, but you can’t argue with the results.
While it has been fun to see Bayern thump on Dortmund the last few seasons, Bayern vs. Leipzig has been much a much better fixture. The last four league matches have been played to a draw. In the last four league matches against Dortmund, Bayern has won all four, outscoring Dortmund 13-2. Julian Nagelsmann has done a very good job in closing the gap in the level of play. There have also been big moments in the short history of this rivalry, including a DFB-Pokal final and who could forget the masterful 5-4 performance in the first matchup in Leipzig, capped off by an iconic goal from Arjen Robben.
Since arriving in the Bundesliga in 2016, RB Leipzig has contended for the Bundesliga just as strong as Dortmund has. They have proven to be a worthy rival for Bayern, and I think we can look forward to many great matches between the two sides in the coming seasons. Now the only question remains – what will we call this rivalry?