Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid is the greatest European rivalry of all time.
Simple as that.
With the season upon us, let us go back in time and look at some of the most notable games in the history of a storied rivalry. Special thanks to RonaldoIMITM from Managing Madrid, who was kind enough to write up the sections on the 1999-2000 and 2011-12 Champions League encounters.
The Bavarian three-peat: 1974-76
Bayern certainly put the right foot forward in the first steps of their journey for European supremacy. Beating Atletico Madrid and Leeds United in the European Cup finals of 1974 and 1975 respectively, the Bavarians were en route to their third consecutive European trophy. And that is when the two sides clashed for the very first time.
Before facing Bayern, Real had just beaten Borussia Mönchengladbach on away goals. Having been saved by a hair, Madrid tip-toed nervously into the semifinals. On the other side, Bayern strode into the game with conviction, after handing Benfica a 5-1 loss that was courtesy of a magical second leg.
Fluid and fearless in attack, vigilant and swift in defense — Bayern looked out of this world. The ear-deafening hooting and cheering behind the Bavarians offered a glimpse into the stakes behind the game and the belief the fans held in the team.
Often the hero of Bayern’s offense and one-third of the ‘Golden Trio’, Gerd Müller certainly made his mark when it mattered. A goal in the first leg and a brace in the second leg from der Bomber safely carried Bayern into a third consecutive European Cup final.
I’d highly suggest you watch the game. The incredible atmosphere of the Münchner Olympiastadion, along with the incredible performance from the Bavarians, makes this a day worth revisiting.
The road to #8: 1999-2000 (by RonaldoIMITM)
The start of a new era. Real Madrid headed into the tie with a lacklustre La Liga campaign. Subsequent losses in the Copa del Rey and the Club World Cup meant that the UCL was their only realistic shot at a trophy that season.
Bayern, on the other hand, went into this game with a lot of confidence, topping the Bundesliga table and wrapping up the DFB-Pokal in between the two semi-final ties. They went into the tie as favourites, hoping to lift the treble. The odds were certainly on their side; they had earlier faced the same Real side earlier, winning 4-1 and 4-2.
The first leg, however, completely flipped the script. The Spaniards went into the tie hungrier, and Bayern were taken aback by Real‘s slick and accurate passing. Oliver Kahn had a busy day at the office, having to deal with the likes of Raúl and Nicolás Anelka, who ended up getting the better of him. Anelka netted Madrid’s first goal, and later, Raúl‘s attempted dribble was accidentally converted into an own-goal by Bayern defender Jens Jeremies.
Whatever Bayern provided offensively just did not make the cut. The match ended 2-0 with a win for Madrid. However, the tie was far from over.
Bayern were all over Madrid in the second leg. Dominating possession and efficient crossing resulted in a great goal by Carsten Jancker and Bayern were in the driver‘s seat to equalize.
But then out of nothing, Anelka scored and a befitting response was handed by Giovane Élber in the second half. The rest of the second half was simply Bayern going hammer and tongs in pursuit of an equalizer and Madrid trying to defend the lead with their lives. The match ended 3-2 in Real’s favour, and another three goals against Valencia had them lifting #8.
All for nothing?: 2011-12 (by RonaldoIMITM)
It was a record-breaking season of sorts for Real Madrid in the summer of 2012. The team went on an incredible run in the league, becoming the first European team to score 100 points, and scoring the most goals (121) in a 20-team league. With the league all but done and dusted, the focus was on getting La Décima.
The road to Munich was tough and arduous. After the first leg in Munich which ended 1-2 in Bayern‘s favour, there was still massive hope amongst Real Madrid supporters. The second leg was at the Santiago Bernabéu, Real Madrid‘s home, which had been the site of many remontadas over the years.
The stage was set for a spectacular match up. Two line-ups filled with generational talents went head-to-head with each other. The game started with Real Madrid‘s nervous energy breaking Bayern‘s defences. Madrid‘s game plan was simple. Be solid at the back and hoof the ball to Ángel Di María or Cristiano Ronaldo out wide, and watch the frontline do what they do best.
The plan nearly succeeded. Real Madrid scored two goals within the first 15 minutes and took the lead for the first time in the semi-final. A rash challenge by Pepe on Mario Gómez gave Bayern a penalty which Arjen Robben duly converted. The rest of the match was a cagey affair. Neither side could finish put the ball in the net, despite Bayern having some dangerous chances. At the end of extra time, the scores were still level. It was time for penalties. And then disaster struck for Madrid.
Both Cristiano and Kaká failed to convert their penalties. After David Alaba and Gomez were successful in their attempts, Bayern had a 2-goal lead. Iker Casillas stepped up and saved the attempts from both Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm, giving Real Madrid a glimmer of hope. But then, Sergio Ramos skied his attempt, and the ruthless Germans via Bastian Schweinsteiger scored and sent Real Madrid out of the competition.
Bayern Munich lost the final to Chelsea, ironically in another penalty shootout. Both teams had failed to win the Champions League that year. However, this season galvanized both teams and pushed them further on the path of European success.
The king of controversial refereeing: the 2016-17 debacle
Viktor Kassai has his name in the books of history because of this game.
The first leg of the quarter final was rather unfortunate for Bayern, who simply fell flat. Real were the better side and a 2-1 loss at the Allianz Arena stung hard. With Arturo Vidal missing a penalty and Javi Martínez getting sent off, things looked ugly for the Rekordmeister. The Carlo Ancelotti critic in me would like to say a lot more, but I’ll stop.
And then, the second leg.
My god, was this a bad game.
Bayern levelled the tie 2-2 on aggregate through a penalty from Robert Lewandowski a few minutes after the second half started.
This penalty came from an ugly tackle by Casemiro on Arjen Robben. The Brazilian made MULTIPLE nasty challenges but Viktor Kassai, being the ever benevolent guy that he is, turned a blind eye to all of them.
But guess what, the moment Vidal makes one foul, five minutes into the game, he gets a yellow and subsequently gets sent off for a challenge on Marco Asensio.
Cristiano Ronaldo scores TWO clear offside goals... and they’re given.
Robert Lewandowski scores a goal that is clearly onside, but... ruled offside, FOR WHAT EXACTLY?!
To this date, the truth remains that Zinedine Zidane’s side were nothing but lucky and assisted by refereeing on their way to their 14th European Cup final.
What is your favourite encounter between the two sides? Let us know in the comments!