BVB will be aiming to follow in their own footsteps on Matchday 34 of the 2018/19 season: in the 1994/95 campaign, the Black & Yellows became one of only five teams in Bundesliga history to jump from second to first on the final day.
Borussia Dortmund's DFB Cup triumph in 1989 heralded the start of a new era. Coach Ottmar Hitzfeld, who arrived in 1991, almost led the club to the title the following year, only to be denied in one of the most dramatic title races in Bundesliga history. Borussia Dortmund began the final day in third place but were on course to finish top until around 17:10, when Guido Buchwald scored to put VfB Stuttgart 2-1 up in the 86th minute at Bayer Leverkusen. As a result, the Swabians finished above the Black & Yellows on account of their superior goal difference and claimed the title.
Three years later, BVB followed in VfB's footsteps as they became one of five clubs in the 56-year history of the Bundesliga to jump from second to first on the final day. There are a number of parallels between that season and the current campaign too...
In that 1994/95 campaign, Dortmund made a lightning start with three successive wins – all in the space of seven days – and went into the second half of the season with a six-point lead (calculated based on three rather than two points for a win) over their closest rivals. They then suffered an away defeat to said rival that cost them top spot (Matchday 29) and were hit by some extremely bad luck with injuries that simultaneously robbed them of their three top strikers: Stéphane Chapuisat, Karl-Heinz Riedle and Flemming Povlsen. But they believed in themselves right until the end.
It might never have happened though. With 51 minutes left on Matchday 33, Werder Bremen were on the cusp of the title: Borussia Dortmund were 2-0 down in Duisburg at the break but then came back to win 3-2 and take the title race to the final day. "We were almost written off and had gone through some difficult times. But it seems as if we've rediscovered our form at the right time," said coach Ottmar Hitzfeld ahead of the final day.
His team knew that if Bayern Munich could hold Werder Bremen to a draw in Bavaria, a victory by two goals would be enough to hand them the title. The Black & Yellows found themselves 2-0 up with only 28 minutes played – thanks to a well-executed and cheeky free-kick from Andy Möller and a goal from the 18-year-old Lars Ricken – and held on to the three points. Elsewhere, Basler briefly gave Bremen hope in the 37th minute, but a Zickler brace ultimately condemned the Green & Whites to a 3-1 defeat and handed Borussia Dortmund the title.
BVB had jumped from second to first on the final day.
The 2001/2002 was equally dramatic, although on that occasion top spot changed hands on Matchday 33. The season as a whole was very different, however: Marcio Amoroso, Jan Koller and new signing Ewerthon, propelled by the outstanding midfield playmaker Tomas Rosicky, tore the league to shreds in the first four rounds of matches, claiming three 2-0 wins and a 4-0 victory. But there were setbacks too – particularly the 4-0 thrashing at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen on Matchday 24, which cost the Black & Yellows first place in the table.
A 1-0 defeat away to FC Kaiserslautern on Matchday 31 meant BVB trailed Leverkusen by five points with three games to go, and the title seemed done and dusted. "Bye, bye, Borussia," wrote kicker magazine. The club leadership congratulated Bayer on the title and coach Matthias Sammer admitted: "Anything is possible in football, but now we need to concentrate on defending second place." Two rounds later, however, after Leverkusen had suffered back-to-back defeats at the hands of Bremen (2-1) and Nuremberg (1-0), BVB were back at the summit, having beaten Cologne and Hamburg before a nervy 2-1 win on the final day wrapped up their sixth Bundesliga title.
Second place had overtaken first on the penultimate matchday.