Overcoming the Nightmare: When Dortmund beat Juve 1997 ⋆ An Old International

Overcoming the Nightmare: When Dortmund beat Juve 1997

It must rankle Bayern and their supporters seeing other teams win in their stadium. Moreover, it must be painful for them to see their rivals Dortmund coming to the city and worse, celebrating. For Borussia Dortmund to win in Munich meant to overcome their footballing nightmare of the 1990s.

Dortmund vs. Juve in the 1990s

It was one of these fixtures that ran through the 90s. It began in the UEFA Cup Final of 1993 where Juve left Dortmund no chance. The aggregate score was 6-1.
Both would meet again only two years later in the semi-final of the European Cup. It was not to be. Dortmund managed to get a 2-2 draw at Juve but lost 2-1 at home. Another year later both met in the group stages. Dortmund inflicted a rare home defeat on Juve but experienced the same fate in the return match. Juve however, went on to win the trophy in 1996.
In the following years after the UEFA Cup defeat of 1993 Dortmund would embark on the most successful era of their history, winning back-to-back league titles in 1995 and 1996 before adding the Champions League a year later in the iconic Munich Olympic Stadium. They did so against Juve despite being blatant underdogs.
In the years since 1993 Dortmund have significantly strengthened their squad. The key player Andreas Möller and Jürgen Kohler were previously employed at Juventus. Their departure from northern Italy did not mean that there were no replacements. There were. Juve signed Zidane from Bordeaux, had already Alessandro del Pierro and Alen Boksic up front. With Angelo Di Livio this was one of the best teams in Europe at the time. Surely it is not surprising that Dortmund were almost always second best against Juve.

The Road to Munich

Getting to the final was not a long road as it is today. The Champions League of 1997 consisted of four groups of four teams each. It meant that only the league champions were qualified. On their group BVB had to deal with Atletico, Widzew Lodz and Steaua Bucarest. Finishing second behind Atletico saved from meeting Juve in the quarterfinals. Instead it was Auxerre whom Dortmund already defeated on their way to the final in 1993. It was not to be for Auxerre, the aggregate score of 4-1 underlined it.
The next step was the semi-final where Manchester United was a different matter altogether. The Red Devils were on their way to become a footballing powerhouse having won their third league title since the inception of the Premier League in 1992. The era of Sir Alex Ferguson was well and truly underway.
It wasn’t easy for Dortmund but a 1-0 win in either leg of the tie settled the matter in favour of the Germans. One man in particular made sure that Dortmund went through: Jürgen Kohler. A save with his toe denied United an important goal and opened the path to Munich. Henceforth his nickname was Fußballgott.
The defeat was the last opportunity for Eric Cantona to win a European trophy. For Dortmund a golden opportunity arose.

Riedle, del Pierro and Ricken

The setting was perfect. The Olympic Stadium with its iconic roof was black and yellow in one corner. The other side was black and white, representing the supporters of each club in the final. The final itself was a copy of the previous games: Juve were better, yet could not convert their superiority into goals. Another debacle for Dortmund loomed large. It did not happen. After roughly half an hour, Dortmund struck. One of their few chances and it was Riedle who kept a cool head. A cross from the left was blocked and the ball went to the right where Möller swung in a cross towards the far post. Riedle chested the ball down and finished with his left foot underneath Peruzzi in goal. Only five minutes later it was a corner brought in by Möller to which Riedle jumped to head home. This time Peruzzi didn’t even move. Game over for Juve? Far from it. The game was far from being decided after 35 minutes. Juve upped the ante and seriously took the game to Dortmund. They have created chances but could not get through. Dortmund’s held until the break and lasted even well into the second half. It was however, only a question of time before they would eventually get their goal. When Del Piero scored it was an exquisite finish. The set-up though was laborious. Juve came through the middle with Alen Boksic who played a one-two at the edge of the box. He continued his run towards the goal line where he connected and passed in the middle where Del Pierro was waiting. All he needed to do was to deflect the ball with his heel into the net. He was close to the Dortmund keeper Stefan Klos who had no chance to reach the ball. He stretched in vain. After 62 minutes it was only a slender advantage for Dortmund and still 30 minutes to play.

Then came Ricken. Lars Ricken the local boy who had already made his mark in December 1993 when he scored the late winner against La Coruña in the UEFA Cup. For the final he was a substitute. It served Dortmund well. He observed that Peruzzi stood well off his line when Juve were in possession. He even joked to Heiko Herrlich about lobbing the keeper with his first touch. In the end it was just what he did.
Coming on in the 70. minute Juve did not take note of him. He has entered the pitch and just reached the centre circle when Dortmund began a forward movement. Sensing his opportunity he started running towards Peruzzi who stood on the edge of the box. Möller played a perfect pass slicing the defense open. Ricken did touch the ball once. He immediately lobbed the keeper who realised he was too far out to prevent the ball from going in. A sensational goal. A goal certainly securing the match for Dortmund. They hang on to their lead and celebrated their biggest triumph on the pitch of their fiercest rival. Dortmund were at their zenith and they deserved to be there. Years of trying and failing had finally paid off and come to fruition on this day in May 1997 in Munich.

image credits: Olympic Stadium Munich via Wiki Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

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