Highlighting Borussia Dortmund’s Amazing Unbeaten Streak

On their path to a second consecutive championship season, Borussia Dortmund put 367 days between Bundesliga losses. After losing to Hannover 96 way back on September 18 of 2011, the BVB managed to earn at least 1 point in every league match they played, running their club-record streak to 31-games without a loss.

The Bundesliga record unbeaten streak of 36 remains safe at least from this particular threat thanks to the current iteration of the club who established said record. Despite a sputtering start to the season in which Hamburg SV scored but 2 goals in its first three matches for zero points, it was the record-holding HSV who put an end to one of the most-impressive runs seen in Bundesliga history with a 3:2 victory in Hamburg over the defending champions on September 22.

Coach Jurgen Klopp’s Dortmund club outscored the opposition 79-21 during the streak, allowing more than two goals in a game only once in that time.

While the Bundesliga sits dormant during the international break, let’s take a look back at some of the highlights of Dortmund’s remarkable run.

  • The Beginning: FSV Mainz 1-2 BVB
The defending champion of the 2010-11 season had gotten off to a slow start, dropping to 11th in the table with 7 points after their first six games, the last two of which were losses at home to Hertha Berlin and at Hannover. When Nicolai Müller lobbed a goal over the head of Roman Weidenfeller in the 33rd minute as Mats Hummels spun around in a circle, seemingly lost, in search of the ball, it appeared the slow start to the title defense had a good chance at extending for another week. Half an hour later Ivan Perisic managed the leveller, converting an alert pass from Lukasz Pisczek and some open space into a goal. Pisczek would grab an extra two points for the black and yellow in the final minutes when a crossing free kick was punched toward midfield by Mainz keeper Heinz Müller onto the defender’s foot, which was then launched hopefully goalward, somehow evading several players before bouncing in the penalty area and into the net.

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-VMxvAONo8&w=560&h=315]

 

  • Robert Lewandowski’s Coming-Out Party:  BVB 4-0 FC Augsburg

While the Polish national is now a household name thanks to a 22-goal campaign leading to plenty of interest from English teams in the summer transfer window, his hat trick against Augsburg was his first multiple-goal league performance since joining Dortmund before the 2010-11 season. It would not, of course, be the last for the man who ultimately was named “player of the year” while shouldering the scoring load for his team on their march to a second-consecutive title.

  • Pummeling the Billy Goats: BVB 5-0 FC Köln and FC Köln 1-6

In a season that saw one of Germany’s largest clubs relegated to the second division, nobody was more merciless on the struggling squad than Dortmund. The Billy Goats took an early lead in the second pairing with the BVB on match day 27 before the visitors exploded for six scores. The loss shoved Köln down into the relegation zone from whence they would not again emerge, managing only two points in the remaining seven matches in which they held a lead for a grand total of 21 minutes.

  • 6 goals in 20 minutes: BVB 4-4 VfB Stuttgart

You wouldn’t have to say much more about a match than that six goals were scored in the last 20 minutes to get the average fan to look at the highlights. Anyone still cynical should note that saw the lead go from Dortmund to Stuttgart and back before Christian Gentner scored the final equalizer late in injury time. While the home crowd likely would have preferred the three points from a victory, they’d have to admit the late drama in a match full of near misses for both sides was worth the price of admission.

 

http://vimeo.com/39528470

 

  • Moment of Truth: BVB 1-0 FC Bayern München

Although Dortmund had ascended to the top spot in the table on match day 20 and remained there safely going into their match day visit from the perennial German power 10 games later, the Bavarians had moved within 3 points of first place, meaning a loss at home would pull the two teams level with just four games left to decide who would reign as champion of the 2010-11 season. By corollary, any points for the home team would give the BVB a decided edge in the race to the finish. After 77 minutes of scoreless intense play between what was clearly the two strongest sides in Germany, Lewandowski blindly deflected a Kevin Großkreutz past Manuel Neuer to give the home side a lead and what seemed a clear path to the championship. Hence, when Roman Weidenfeller aggressively attacked a ball in the Dortmund penalty area taking Arjen Robben down in the process, the awarding of a penalty to Bayern appeared to put a damper on the spirits of the home crowd. Of course, in what became the definitive scene of the season, Weidenfeller redeemed himself with a stopping of the penalty (after which Neven Subotic delivered some late-match greetings in Robben’s face at seemingly full volume).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tBBQdKzRWzQ

 

  • DERBYSIEG!: FC Schalke 1-2 BVB
Merely four days after the emotional victory over Bayern, Dortmund had to travel to their bitter rivals in Gelsenkirchen for a mid-week edition of the Revierderby. Though they’d likely be unable to derail Dortmund’s chances at the title by this point, a derby victory and the end to the undefeated streak of their biggest rivals would have been a nice treat for the fans of the Royal Blues to pair with their Champions League spot, especially with Borussia Mönchengladbach nipping at their heels for the automatic spot in the European tournament, rather than needing to qualify for the groups phase should they fall into fourth place.  Schalke took an early lead thanks to a Jefferson Farfan goal, but eventually the steamroller that was this particular Dortmund squad took over, scoring a pair of goals to secure a full three points, moving the defending champs yet closer to a second-consecutive title.
  • The Clincher: BVB 2-0 Borussia Mönchengladbach

In front of 80,720 screaming fans, the BVB clinched their second-consecutive championship against their upstart neighbors from Mönchengladbach. Though not quite as enthralling as a league title, die Fohlen came to Signal Iduna Park in search of points in hopes of clinching their Champions League qualification spot and keep them a threat to Schalke’s automatic spot. The final margin was provided by the rumored-to-be-departing Shinji Kagawa who had become a force in the Bundesliga since arriving from Japan. With an expiring contract and life-long dreams of playing in England, the 2:0 goal turned out to be Kagawa’s last in black and yellow before taking his talents to Manchester United.

  • Rebirth?: BVB 2-1 Werder Bremen

With consecutive titles behind them, the defending champions opened the 2012-13 season on a Friday night, hosting Werder Bremen. The main change in the roster during the summer was the departure of Kagawa. Dortmund looked to balance the loss with the arrival of Marco Reus. Having emerged as one of Germany’s most-promising young players during the 2011-12 season contributing 18 goals to the feel-good-story season for former club Mönchengladbach, Reus also became an exciting weapon for the German national team during Europe 2012 competition, scoring a goal just minutes into his first appearance in the tournament as a late substitute in a group match against Greece.

Reus similarly wasted no time displaying his wares in front of his new fan base, sprinting past Bremen’s Aleksandar Ignjovski onto a through pass from Jakum Blaszczykowski and calmly sliding the ball past helpless keeper Sebastian Mielitz, who could only watch it roll by him into the net.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP3HlJHD3yk&w=560&h=315]

Since the end of the streak, Dortmund has managed five points in three matches, which is an admirable enough pace for many, but pales compared to last year as well as to the white-hot start of Bayern Münich, who seems to have taken personally the ascendance of Dortmund as Germany’s top dog.  Bayern is nine points in front of fourth-place Dortmund, having outscored their first seven opponents 21-2.

But, before you think things are entirely too different…

After seven matches last season, Dortmund was actually in eighth place and eight points behind the FC Bayern. Of course, as we just covered, all Dortmund had to do was to embark on a 31-game streak without a loss to return to the top.

And you can bet that the team in red down south is well aware of that bit of history.

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Randall Hauk is a freelance writer living in the United States while covering German football. He is currently the publisher of Planet Effzeh, an English-language site covering 1. FC Köln. He wrote about the German national team for the Telegraph as part of their World Cup Nation coverage.

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