Bundesliga Rewind – Freiburg’s record win against Bayern in 1994 and an unlikely role reversal

With only one loss in their last eight matches Freiburg are one of the most in form sides in the league at the moment but one would have to go pretty far back in history to find their last win against Bayern.  In fact, their last win against the German champions came almost twenty years ago back in the 1995/96 season.  The Breisgau Brazilians have only won three of their 26 Bundesliga encounters and with Bayern in history making form they will no doubt have their work cut out for them when they meet on matchday 14.

Long time Freiburg fans will travel to the Mage-Solar Stadium on Wednesday not lamenting the inevitable or hoping to avoid another dominant Bayern win but with warm recollections of a very special encounter between these two sides, one that dates back to a warm Tuesday night on August 23, 1994.  It was a match that went down in the club’s history and remains to this day one of their finest displays in their Bundesliga history, a dominant win of their own, against Germany’s record champions no less.


The season before Freiburg barely avoided relegation in their very first Bundesliga season, having to wait until the last matchday to ensure another year in the top flight while Bayern marched their way to the title in typically impressive fashion boasting star players like Olaf Thon, Lothar Matthäus, Raimond Aumann, Thomas Helmer and Mehmet Scholl to name a few.  In the summer they bolstered their squad further with a young up and coming goalkeeper by the name of Oliver Kahn and star striker Jean-Pierre Papin. Another title was surely on the cards while Volker Finke’s lowly Freiburg would inevitably play to avoid the drop once more.

What didn’t help matters for Freiburg either was the scheduling of the 1994/95 season as they had to face strong sides like Karlsruher SC, Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen, Borussia Mönchengladbach and worst of all, Bayern München, in their first 7 matches.  And it could not have started worse for Freiburg as they had to go into the Bayern game on the back of a 2-0 loss to Karlsruher SC.  Bayern meanwhile comfortably disposed of Bochum 3-1 and looked to do the same to Freiburg.

The Match

It would not go down as expected though and Bayern’s world was turned completely upside down before they could even blink.  Freiburg showed up like a team possessed and put three goals past Oliver Kahn in just under 20 minutes.  Freiburg defender Spanring opened the scoring just 11 minutes into the match after a defensive mix up in the Bayern box and a flick on from Jens Todt.  Bayern conceded early but it was no reason to panic.  There was plenty of time to to get back into the game and win it.

The opener was no fluke though and Freiburg’s brilliant midfield maestro Cardoso linked up with the energetic Jörg Heinrich (who made his Bundesliga debut in the season opener in the previous week) to set up Kohl for the second just five minutes later.  Cardoso chipped a fantastic ball over the Bayern defense which Heinrich pulled back to an oncoming Kohl in the Bayern box, the kind of quick one touch stuff supporters were probably expecting Bayern to execute.  Bayern failed to close down Cardoso and their defenders did not track Kohl’s run in the box.

The blitz start had no finished and Freiburg made it 3-0 seconds after their second.  Todt robbed a Bayern defender of the ball on the right before releasing a pin point cross to an open Cardoso in the box, unmarked and emphatic with his finish.  The defending champions were stunned.  Again Freiburg were quicker on the ball and in their heads while Bayern were careless in possession and with their positioning, no one even attempting to challenge Cardoso’s header.

Coach Giovanni Trapattoni needed to make some changes and brought on the more attack minded and direct Christian Ziege for the underwhelming Christian Nerlinger. And for a while it seemed to work as Ziege pulled a goal back for the visitors in the 32nd minute.  Bayern worked the ball well down the left before playing it into the center for Ziege.  His first shot was blocked but his second attempt eluded goalkeeper Schmadtke and went into the bottom left corner. It was a much needed goal before the break.

Only two games into his career as Bayern coach, Giovanni Trapattoni had to deliver an effective half-time talk to salvage the match.  Believing his men could pull it off he made no changes at the interval but not even he could have imagined how bad things would get in the second half.  Freiburg came out with the same electric pace they started the match with and won a penalty soon after the restart.  Cardoso, the main orchestrator of Bayern’s dismantling up to that point  confidently stepped up, sent Kahn the wrong way, and made it 4-1.

By now Bayern were completely out of the game and mentally defeated.  Every Freiburg touch and move was cheered vividly by the vibrant and enthusiastic Freiburg supporters and their team repaid their brilliant support with another goal. A special goal from the excellent Jörg Heinrich who spent his previous four seasons playing in the fourth division.  Now he was dancing around World Cup winners and German champions. Heinrich took down the ball with his chest at the edge of the box, shimmied his body twice to send Bayern defenders the wrong way, before finishing into the bottom left corner.  The demolotion was complete.

What came next?

The improbable by most experts’ predictions. Against all expectations, Freiburg finished ahead of Bayern by the end of the season. Volker Finke’s entertaining and exciting team finished three points behind champions Borussia Dortmund and qualified for the first round of the UEFA Cup as a result.  It was a remarkable achievement for a club in only its’ second season in the Bundesliga.  Their fighting spirit, high energy style and attractive football earned them the  nickname Breisgau Brazilians, a monikor which stuck to this day, and endeared them to football supporters nationwide. Volker Finke’s spell at the club still remains the most successful in club history and the win against Bayern symbolizes a very special season.

For Bayern the sooner the 1994/95 season was forgotten, the better. Not only did Bayern not successfully defend their title, they fell way below their own standards and finished in 6th and were eliminated by fourth division side TSV Vestenbergsgreuth. They reached the Champions League semi finals that year but were eliminated in quite embarrassing fashion by eventual winners Ajax Amsterdam their poor domestic performance led to yet another managerial change.

SC Freiburg 

Schmadtke – Heidenreich – Neitzel (Müller), Spanring – Braun, Zeyer, Todt, Cardoso, Kohl, Heinrich – Spies (Seretis)

FC Bayern München

Kahn – Matthäus – Kreuzer, Helmer – Nerlinger (Ziege), Schupp (Sternkopf), Scholl, Hamann, Frey – Sutter, Papin


Header courtesy of badische-zeitung.de & Michael Heuberger

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Cristian Nyari

Cristian is a football writer and analyst living in New York City, fascinated with the history and study of the beautiful game and all it entails. Follow Cristian on twitter @Cnyari