Tales from a Red Odyssey: Mighty Munich, Mad Madrid

FC Bayern München’s rivalry with Real Madrid is one of Europe’s finest. It is also spiced with controversy. Ahead of this week’s Champions League quarter-final meeting with Los Merengues, Rick Joshua digs out a thirty year old classic from his new book Red Odyssey: An FC Bayern Fan Journey.

There has always been a bit of needle when Bayern play Real Madrid. It is with good reason that the Bavarians are called La Bestia Negra – “the black beast” – by the supporters of the Spanish giants.

Pantomime villains

We do not need to go too far back in time to read about this great rivalry. The antics of pantomime villains Sergio Ramos and Pepe. Mark van Bommel’s bras d’honneur in the direction of the Madrid crown when Bayern scored a crucial away goal. The laughs shared all around the world when Ramos attempted to single-handedly put a football on the moon.

All of these moments have helped to shape the rivalry, but one match would arguably define it. The first leg of the semi-final of the European Cup in 1987.

The first meeting between the two teams in European competition had come in 1976 when Bayern won 3-1 on aggregate en route to their third European Cup triumph, but the tie would be remembered more for the post-match scuffles than the result. At the end of the first leg at the Bernabéu that had finished 1-1, Gerd Müller was punched by a home ”supporter”, who then attacked the referee before finally being grounded by Bayern ‘keeper Sepp Maier.

Bayern had sealed the tie with a comfortable two-goal triumph in Munich, but the seeds of what would become a bitter rivalry had been sown. During the clubs’ second European meeting more than a decade later, the simmering pot would come quickly to the boil before spilling over completely.

With it being the Easter holidays I was now back home, able to watch the midweek football without having to cut the sound, lower the brightness to almost pitch blackness or listen out for the clicking feet of large dogs. With no English clubs in the competition, I knew that I would get to see at least ten solid minutes of the semi-final.

Criminal thuggery

I must have seen hundreds of matches involving Bayern over the years, but somehow this one has always stuck in the memory. Having recorded the ten minutes of highlights, I cannot even begin to count how many times I must have watched it afterwards. These days the highlights of many great matches from the past are easy to find on YouTube, but back in 1987 it was like gold dust.

With only eleven minutes on the clock, Klaus Augenthaler put Bayern 1-0 up with one of those famous long-range drives. Then, just short of the half-hour mark, Lothar Matthäus doubled the lead from the penalty spot after Roland Wohlfarth was crudely clattered by ‘keeper Francisco Buyo. Two became three when Wohlfarth calmly chipped the ball over the hapless Madrid Torhüter, and Bayern looked to be safely on their way to the final. Then, all hell broke loose.

Just two minutes after Bayern’s third goal, Matthäus and Real midfielder Chendo were competing for a fifty-fifty ball. Having taken a spectacular tumble, the Spaniard leaped back up and shoved Matthäus to the ground. Prostrate on the pitch, the Bayern midfielder could not have even begun to imagine what was coming next. Out of nowhere, the talented but highly temperamental Juanito suddenly charged like a crazed bull into the fray and stamped hard on Matthäus’ back, before bellowing an insult and following up with another even more vicious stamp on the Bayern man’s face – an offence so blatant that it beggared belief. In all my years I had never seen such a thing take place in a football match.

Juanito was immediately dismissed and would be subsequently banned from the game for five years, and Leo Beenhakker’s side were actually lucky not to have Manuel Sanchís sent off as well as he too got in on the act with a sneaky step on the stricken Matthäus’ knee while the referee wasn’t looking. This wasn’t football, but criminal thuggery of the worst sort.

Visceral hatred

Ten-man Madrid pulled a goal back through the prolific Emilio Butragueño just before half-time, but another Matthäus penalty after a ridiculously obvious handball restored Bayern’s three-goal advantage. To really cap off a terrible evening for the Spanish champions, defender Mino also received his marching orders eighteen minutes before the final whistle. Madrid finished the game with nine men, but it could very easily have been seven or less.

The assault on Matthäus by Juanito was an incident that instilled in me a deep and somewhat visceral hatred of Real Madrid that remains to this day. It might sound particularly harsh, but when I heard that the controversial Spaniard had died in a car accident some years later I was certainly not going to be shedding any tears.

The second leg saw Bayern lose by a single goal, putting them into the final 4-2 on aggregate. More crucially, skipper Klaus Augenthaler was shown a red card, ruling him out of the showpiece in Vienna. Which is, of course, another story.

Published at the beginning of 2017, Red Odyssey: An FC Bayern Fan Journey is now on sale at Amazon. You can find out more by checking out the official website, www.redodyssey.co.uk.