Title lost, hearts won: BVB falls crying in the most dignified debacle in history

Everything is arranged in Dortmund. Another 90 minutes of football. Then the celebration begins. It should last at least two days. It ends in tears after 90 minutes. BVB falls into horror. Everything is silent. Everyone is silent. And then something happens that could save the club.

The fans of Borussia Dortmund proved what real love is long after the end of what is probably the biggest nightmare in the club’s recent history. This club, which is now forever doomed to live with this unbelievable disgrace, proved what greatness is. With a 2:2 (0:2) draw against 1. FSV Mainz 05, BVB missed what must have been a unique opportunity to win the German championship title. All you had to do was win. Just like in the last eleven games at home in the Westfalenstadion. They broke, picked themselves up and reached the finish line beaten. Bayern Munich are German champions and kick out Oliver Kahn and Hasan Salihamidžić. Borussia Dortmund is not champion and says goodbye with the greatest dignity.

But first they collapsed. They were no longer in control. When it was all over, they died with the dream. The stadium was quieter than ever, but they had wanted to be louder than ever. Even the Mainz fans who had traveled with them were silent. Nobody sings when the coffin is lowered into the ground. And it was a funeral. One that no one saw coming. Dortmund were not carried out of the curve, but died of fear in the first half. All resuscitation measures were unsuccessful. Because Bayern Munich delivered.

The players froze and remained in place, staring in the direction the title had vanished. Mats Hummels stood, Marco Reus, who will never win a German championship title, broke. The club legend will forever search for fulfillment and never find it again. The South Stand saw this and woke him up with the chants, pulled out their captain. She pulled out almost the entire crew, which could now be seen on the video board with soft focus.

Heads hanging in front of the Yellow Wall, which twitched, breathed and suddenly came to life again. “We are all Dortmund boys,” they sang. Those down there had given them the dream and now they thanked them. “Get up, get up!” they urged the players. Coach Edin Terzić watched the action from afar with crossed shoulders. Tears came to his eyes. The fans called his name. He went ahead, patted his heart, put his hands up in the air and broke again. The south stand sang and proved to be a magical place in world football. Rarely has a team’s failure been dealt with so gracefully. “What happened in this stadium was worthy of all honor. It was the only positive thing today,” said Julian Brandt.

A hill grows to Mount Everest

Edin Terzić wanted to bring BVB the championship. He was so close. Just one loss and four draws in 19 games since the World Cup break after a rumbling first half. It was not good. They almost even became champions with a bankruptcy. The magic words: “1:1 in Cologne!” Because there they were. When everyone had given up hope. The stadium escalated. Then again: the silence. The 2-1 in Cologne that was not announced. Because there was nothing to announce. Everyone knew anyway. Borussia Dortmund lost the German championship and sank into depression. For seventeen minutes just before the end of the season, they had their hands on the cup in this championship final. Eight at the beginning of the day, nine so close to the end that even the stewards had already set up in front of the south stand. What happened on the pitch didn’t matter. it was over Until the players collapsed and got back up.

The horror had started soon enough. Suddenly, the small hill became the championship of Mount Everest. He piled up in front of Borussia Dortmund. Not to climb. Especially not without oxygen. BVB stood in front of the gigantic wall and were afraid of climbing up. Andreas Hanche-Olson gave Mainz the lead in the 15th minute after a corner and just four minutes later, of all people, awarded a penalty to Sebastien Haller. Over in Cologne it was 1-0 for Bayern. all gone All the championship dreams. Thrown away after 0:2 by Karim Onisiwo in the 24th minute. Then nothing happened for a long time. The chants died down. Anticipation turned into sheer horror.

The rattling giant fell apart again in the face of history. He still twitched as he fell, created a few chances and fell every time he tried to make at least a few meters of the way up. Julian Brandt missed, Bayern scored again but held back, Mats Hummels missed, Donyell Malen to the side netting. Everything was over. Just played 45 minutes. It was clear: the huge construction at the top of the stadium’s west stand would remain covered forever. She should accompany the championship celebration.

A moment of hope

They had not lost at the Westfalenstadion since the historic 2-3 draw against Werder Bremen in August 2022. They had been able to celebrate eleven wins in a row in Dortmund. “It’s in our hands,” said a banner in front of Süd. They did, and they threw it all away. Careless and with increasing playing time also desperate.

A crash on the last matchday was only comparable to Leverkusen’s 2-0 loss in Unterhaching in 2000. Everything that defined BVB in the second half of the season collapsed under the pressure. Haller, who stole the ball from Emre Can before the penalty, missed. Julian Brandt, whose passes failed to break the last line. Donyell Malen, unable to add depth to his game, and missed from close range in the 62nd minute.

In the stands, the horror first turned to displeasure and then to volume. One last try. Young Julien Duranville making his debut changed something in the game. The stadium was alive again. Louder, louder and louder. Fired again and again by the missed opportunities to connect. There was. By the minute. They were stuck in the penalty area. They twisted and lost in the last hope. Mats Hummels was only a center forward for a long time.

Then a scream: Substitute Gio Reyna dug, dug, dug, Raphael Guerreiro hit. 1:2 “More, more, more,” yelled stadium announcer Norbert Dickel. “Only BVB,” shouted those in the stands: “All our lives, all our pride.” 20 minutes left. Marco Reus overhead kick over the goal, a header too. But only Niklas Süle scored. By then the game in Munich was over and nothing was going on in Dortmund either. 2:2 End.

“Edin understood Dortmund”

“This matchday will hurt us for a long time,” said Terzić. Because a whole city was ready for absolute ecstasy. Three hours before the game, a march of fans crawled towards the stadium. Because they were standing under one of the B1 bridges and because they were singing, these fans were special: they were loud. Everywhere else the tension was palpable. The talks revolved around the possibility of failure, the search for the last card and, of course, coach Terzić, who had given Borussia back to Dortmund.

Although they played in the city for years, the connection was severed under his predecessors. The Favres, the Roses and the Tuchels were traveling salesmen when it came to football. “Edin,” they said, “he understood Dortmund.” Everyone who stood in the streets and everyone who had to work that day wore only one color: yellow. Whether behind the market stall, at the kebab skewer or in the tram.

Fireworks erupted on the south before the game.

(Photo: IMAGO/osnapix)

The mood in Dortmund had finally boiled over for the week. Larger-than-life player cardboard cutouts lined the streets, flags hung in the gardens, and everyone wore yellow. The local radio raffled a few remaining tickets among those who commented on the fictional last minutes until the championship. In short: BVB supporters did everything. They just wanted to see their BVB win. Win the championship again. All their efforts were in vain.

Hardly anyone had expected it anyway. Because football is so special here, because a championship is not usual here, reporters from all over the world traveled to Dortmund during the week. They all wanted to absorb the moments, wanted to announce what nobody could believe: Borussia Dortmund is German champion 2023. Because since the Bundesliga with the “All German final” between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund in Wembley for a short time exactly ten years ago had become a place of longing for world football, competitiveness had gone downhill.

The drop in Dortmund was enormous. Any failure would immediately be interpreted as the epochal collapse, which in the end it was. Dortmund had no choice. They had to prepare for the state of emergency. “We wanted to have exactly this atmosphere,” said Terzic: “We always said in Germany that we want an exciting Bundesliga again. It was different than we thought.”

Even over the hopelessly overcrowded pubs long before kick-off, on the Alter Markt – the central place in the district metropolis – and also in the hours before the game, the trams were crammed full with the option of failure. The self-confidence only came when they stepped into the stadium and gathered under the south again. As they took the steps to the grandstand, they merged into one giant organism. In him they were one, and through him they wanted to shine. They succeed. But only after the final whistle.

“We believed in the city,” said Edin Terzić and, on the verge of tears again, thanked the press. He got applause, knocked on the table: “We’ll try again next season”. But the big chance for the title was gone. All celebrations in the city have been cancelled. But it stayed the same: After the most bitter draw, Dortmund retained their dignity. That too will be remembered from this memorable day.

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