A season of highs and lows that ended on a bitter note is behind us. We look back at the 2022/23 season and focus on a major comeback. Here is Part 3 of the Season Review. (Click here for Part 1 and Part 2.)
Bayern drop points in a loss in Mainz at the end of April. The DFL's fixture schedulers have determined that BVB are not in action until the evening, meaning they already know their big rival's result ahead of kick-off against Eintracht Frankfurt. When the first team take to the pitch at SIGNAL IDUNA PARK, they are welcomed by a breathtaking atmosphere. The fans in the stands rise to the occasion and drive their team forward. BVB win 4-0 and storm into top spot. "BVB are back!" rings out from the stands. "It was very intense. Marco said to me on the bus that the stadium would go crazy today – for me, it's a goosebumps moment every time, it was really awesome today. Best stadium in the world!", says Karim Adeyemi.
But even after this triumph, BVB can only hold onto pole position for a week: the Black & Yellows have to settle for a draw in Bochum. It is a tug of war, a constant alternation of league leader; the German title race is heating up and remains exciting until the end. BVB continue to take no prisoners on home turf and are in a goalscoring mood against Wolfsburg (6-0) and Mönchengladbach (5-2). Prior to Borussia's next away trip, the men from Munich have the chance to keep their noses in front at home to Leipzig. The game kicks off just as BVB arrive in Augsburg. The team, coaches and staff watch the game together at the hotel and witness Bayern's defeat. A victory in Augsburg means BVB will return to the top of the table.
The next day, BVB run out 3-0 victors. The first two goals are scored by Sebastien Haller, who has already scored in both of the previous home games too and now pushes the door to the championship wide open. Terzic labels the forward's return as "the biggest miracle" of the season. However, he has not only been missed as a striker, "but also as a person in the changing rooms. He is so important." However the campaign ends: "It remains the greatest story that we've experienced this season. We're unbelievably proud that Seb is finally back on the pitch with us regularly. That is not to be taken for granted. Extreme desire, hard work and positive energy have put him in this situation."
The striker makes BVB's attacking play better. The trio of Haller, Malen and Adeyemi, who were all goalless before the turn of the year, have found the net 24 times between them. BVB have picked up 2.5 points per game with Halller on the pitch and only 1.7 without him. In general, the statisticians have noted some outstanding data points for the team before the final game of the season: with 56 goals, the Black & Yellows have the most dangerous attack of any club in a top European league in 2023. 22 wins is the highest number in the league. BVB are having the best season in the club's history at their own stadium; 42 points prior to the final match is already a record. "Whenever we had a phase in our play where it didn't feel easy, our fans were there to carry us. It's been a great journey together so far. We want to crown it with a win on Saturday," says Terzic ahead of the final day of the season, which BVB head into with a lead of two points and which the entire city eagerly anticipates all week. More people wearing Black & Yellow shirts can be seen each day; flags hang from windows and wave in front of houses. The week seems to drag on endlessly – until the last matchday finally arrives.
The excitement comes to a head on Saturday as the supporters make their way to the pub early in the mornings in order to get the best space. Even the fans who have gotten their hands on a coveted match ticket head for SIGNAL IDUNA PARK earlier than usual, partially bringing the traffic to a standstill. The mood in the already atmospheric stadium is even more special. We are louder than ever.
One goal short
Borussia Dortmund find themselves behind shortly after kick-off. Sebastien Haller misses a penalty. The expression "of all people" is frequently overused in football, but it is fitting for this occasion. A goal in the final match of the campaign, a potentially decisive goal to help secure the title from a man who was only diagnosed with a serious illness last summer... Such a turn of events would have probably even been too much for Hollywood. Shortly afterwards, Borussia go 2-0 down. Meanwhile, Bayern lead in Cologne and move to the top of the table again. Dortmund pile on the pressure but only pull a goal back with about 20 minutes remaining. Celebrations break out following a harmless throw-in 10 minutes later. Cologne have equalised, BVB are league leaders again for the time being. Nobody can stay on their seats in the second half. Everyone is up on their feet, even if they don't have a standing ticket. During this spell of Dortmund pressure, the news filters through that Bayern are in the lead once again, with one minute until the final whistle. Dortmund's leveller deep into stoppage time does not change anything. In the end, they are a goal away from the German title.
When the final whistle sounds, it suddenly goes quiet. The players fall to the ground. They hold their hands in front of their faces and allow their emotions to run free. Silence. For minutes. Disbelief in the stands and on the pitch. Almost nobody leaves the stadium. We were louder than ever before. Now we're quieter than ever before.
The silence after the shock.
Several moments later, Edin Terzic goes over to his players one by one and consoles them. There is a smattering of tentative, encouraging applause here and there. But silence is the prevailing sound in Germany's largest football stadium. What then happens a few minutes later is probably unheard of anywhere else. The fans in the South Stand have a feel for the situation and start chanting. "Unser ganzes Leben, unser ganzer Stolz." "Wir sind alle Dortmunder Jungs." "Es gibt nie, nie, nie einen anderen Verein." ("All our lives, all our pride." "We are all Dortmund boys." "There is never, never, never another club.") They call for the players to come over to them. Slowly, the Borussia players make their way towards the South Stand. Shortly afterwards, some players go over the hoardings and talk to the fans who are trying to catch their attention. Edin Terzic does a lap around the stadium alone and thanks the supporters in the stands.
"And that is exactly what Borussia Dortmund is about. A sense of unity and helping each other back up after failures and disappointments. We'll be back," writes Mats Hummels a day later. "We'll try again. We'll try again to do it better," Edin Terzic says.