Dortmund narrowly beat Bayern and the natural order in Der Klassiker

Leander Schaerlaeckens
Borussia Dortmund
Dortmund players celebrate their big win in Der Klassiker. (Reuters)

Whenever Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund have met in recent years, there has been something of a good guys vs. bad guys dynamic to the game. On the one hand, there’s ultra-wealthy Bayern, perennially one of a handful of richest clubs in the world, snapping up talent just for the sake of it, dominating all in its path and winning of four straight Bundesliga titles.

Then there’s Dortmund. Clever, diligent Dortmund, which last won the league in 2011 and 2012 before Bayern’s current run. It is still a very rich club – about 11th in the world by Deloitte’s last count – but with a budget only just over half of Bayern’s. So when Dortmund has a player who has been a difference-maker in the league for a while, chances are he’ll wind up in Bavaria. Like Robert Lewandowski. Like Mats Hummels. Like Mario Goetze, until he failed there and returned northwest to his boyhood club this summer.

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Dortmund is forever swimming against the tide carrying Bayern to wins and titles by virtue of being Bayern, the biggest club in Germany by far. So it has to be smarter, buy its players younger and train them better, before they leave for the Bayerns of the world.

In the end, Dortmund is destined to lose Der Klassiker – as Germany’s classic showdown between these two sides is known – more often than it will win it. On Saturday, however, Thomas Tuchel’s savvy team in yellow and black beat Bayern 1-0 thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s 11th-minute goal. It was Die Borussen‘s first win over their arch-rivals in regulation since August 2014, the first in the league since February 2014 and the first in the league at home since April 2012.

Because it was one of those rare days in this rivalry when the natural order and economic design did not prevail. When Bayern’s dominance couldn’t be safeguarded by its financial superiority.

Dortmund got its goal early. And it was Goetze, of all people, who set it up, sneaking through the right side of the box and driving a cross into the range of Aubameyang, who slid and toed it past Manuel Neuer.

The home team was comfortably in control of the game for the first 25 minutes or so, and an Andre Schurrle shot could have doubled the score were it not right at Neuer. Then Bayern took over, gobbling up almost two-thirds of possession.

But Dortmund, in spite of losing its best defender, Hummels, to Bayern over the summer – to say nothing of central midfield cogs Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Manchester United and Ilkay Gundogan to Manchester City – gave away very little by way of chances. Early in the second half, Franck Ribery had a backheel touch that beat goalkeeper Roman Burki but was rightly disallowed for offside. Then Xabi Alonso’s long shot dinked off the underside of the bar.

Aubameyang, however, had the best chance of getting another. In the 71st minute, a turnover sprung him clearly through on Neuer, who had to scamper back. But the Gabonese striker put his finish too close to the goalkeeper, who was able to get a touch on it.

Christian Pulisic, the 18-year-old American prodigy, made a late cameo and won a free kick that killed some crucial time down the stretch. And with the flow washing towards Dortmund’s goal, that was a valuable minute or so knocked off the clock. Still, Lewandowski came close to a late equalizer with a header before the final whistle relieved the home team and almost 80,000 home fans.

The bad guys are still likelier to be victorious in the war and claim the league for a fifth year in a row. But on the day, the good guys won the battle and the game.

Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.