The Borussia Dortmund’s of the 1990’s is one of German football’s all time great teams. In 1993 they reached the UEFA Cup final after nearly winning the Bundesliga the year before. They then followed that up with back to back league titles in 1995 and 1996 and the Intercontinental title the following year but the crowning achievement for the club was without a doubt the Champions League triumph in 1997.
It was as unlikely a Cup triumph as Europe had seen since the competition was rebranded at the beginning of the decade. In the final they met Juventus who beat them 6-1 on aggregate in the UEFA Cup only a couple of years back. The Italians, heavy favorites and considered arguably the best team in Europe at the time, were expected to lift the trophy but Ottmar Hitzfeld’s brilliantly coached side shocked the football world to win the clubs’ and German football’s first Champions League trophy since reunification.
Their run to the final was equally amazing and filled with memorable performances and results though. Their group stage started with wins over Polish and Romanian champions Widzew Lodz and Steaua Bucuresti. Their next win may have been their most impressive in the group stage, a 1-0 win in Spain against reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
Nine poitns from their first three games put Dortmund in a great position to advance early into the campaign so despite losing the rematch against Atletico in Germany they collected four points from their last two matches, including a 5-3 goal fest against Steaua on the last matchday. In the end they finished tied on points with Atletico and came up second due to goal difference but the first part of their mission had been accomplished. Dortmund were through to the knockout stage for the first time in history.
Here is a two part video of their group stage matches:
The year before Dortmund went out in the quarter finals to Ajax Amsterdam. This time they were paired with French champions Auxerre who topped a group featuring that very same Ajax team. Dortmund would not be deterred though and they continued to pick up steam, beating Auxerre convincingly at home 3-1 an 1-0 in France. Lars Ricken scored his second of the competition in the second leg and it would not be his last.
Next up was Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United, a team that was quickly becoming the most dominant force in English football and stronger and stronger in Europe. Not many expected Dortmund to go through the way they did. A tight first leg was decided by a late Rene Tretschock goal in Dortmund. The second leg is still one of the most famous wins in Dortmund history.
3400 Dortmund supporters traveled to Old Trafford to witness a performance that would see them through to the final. An early goal from Lars Ricken put Dortmund ahead, stunning the home crowd, followed by a highly spirited and heroic defensive performance, particularly from Jürgen Kohler, to cap off a memorable night. Things would get even better.
One of the great underdog stories in European Cup final history took place on May 28th. Although the match was hosted in Bayern’s Olympiastadion in München Juventus were still heavy favorites but greatness is often spun through adversity and Dortmund made history that night.
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