Barcelona conceded a three-goal advantage against Liverpool, but that does not come close to eliminating Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga.
When the dust reaches the 2018-19 season, it will be remembered as the year of returns and collapses. The Champions League semifinals saw them both condense into two 90-minute games in which teams broke huge clues as their opponents wrote their names in the story. While these games fit perfectly the season of twists and collapses with Barcelona and Ajax playing away 3-0 from aggregate advantage, neither team scored as much as Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga in 2019.
The inevitable was confirmed on Saturday when Bayern Munich won 5-1 at Eintracht Frankfurt and stole the title from their rivals. Dortmund's victory over Borussia Mönchengladbach was not enough to end seven consecutive seasons of the Die Roten domination and recover a crown that should have been theirs.
Earlier in the year, Dortmund led the lead in six points at the top of the table after the winter break. The first half of the season surpassed all expectations at Signal Iduna Park with new coach Lucien Favre finishing the hinrunde with 13 wins and three draws from 17 games. This included his own mini-return, twice coming from behind to beat Bayern Munich in November, with talisman Marco Reus scoring two goals. January continued just as Dortmund opened the second half of the season with a 1-0 win over RB Leipzig and then a 5-1 dismantling of Hannover, who temporarily opened a nine-point lead over Bayern Munich.
Despite being able to get a new coach as well as some player turnover, Germany's most successful team should still dominate the Bundesliga, with the Bayern Munich name already taped to the Meisterschale by most experts before the start of the season. However, underachieving performances and Niko Kovac's unspoken decisions made it a disappointing year for Bayern, allowing Borussia Dortmund de Favre to make the most of it. Half way, at least.
The Ruckrunde table tells a different story, with Dortmund being the team's fourth-best performance in the second half of the season, behind the much improved Bayern but also of RB Leipzig and Bayer Leverkusen, now run by former BVB boss Peter Bosz Two wins of two were the perfect January for Dortmund, but after that, the collapse began.
Three consecutive draws made the league's lead narrow to just three points on Bayern Munich before a 3-2 win over the top four hopeful Bayer Leverkusen to steady the ship a little.
These ties coincided with a Reus injury, while Manuel Akanji's hip injury, coupled with Dan-Axel Zagadou's problem, made Dortmund significantly weak in defense and attack. Defensive midfielder Lukasz Piszczek overcame this poor result and was swiftly taken back to Bayern Munich in April with a 69-minute lead before fending off injury. Favre was forced to make that decision for even more injury problems, this time for the loan Achraf Hakimi and versatile wide player Raphael Guerreiro.
The Bayern game proved to be the turning point of the season for both teams. A win for Dortmund would have left them five points ahead with six games remaining. Instead, the Dortmund team were massacred in Bavaria, losing by 5 x 0 to put Bayern Munich at the top of the table and significantly change the difference of goals of both teams. Bayern have since fallen but not so significantly and Borussia Dortmund's 4-2 loss to Schalke at the end of April seemed to give Bayern the seventh consecutive title.
The fall of Dortmund in the form and collapse of the title has actually caused some fans to question Favre's future at the club, but sports director Michael Zorc has no such concerns and is already planning for next season with the Swiss coach in charge.
"We will definitely get into the new season with Lucien Favre whether we win the championship or not," Zorc said. Kicker earlier this month. "We have a very good relationship of trust and we will conduct contractual talks."
Borussia Dortmund fans may be unhappy with the way the season unfolded, but no one predicted Bayern Munich would be so close at the start of the season. This was a transition year for the two clubs and the inconsistent results on the pitch proved to be the case for each team. Once again, Bayern's star quality proved the difference in the end, but Dortmund did enough to be confident before the 2019-20 campaign.
The article continues below
Bayern may be on their way to a domestic double, but their coach does not have the full support of the club's bosses. They are losing leaders Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery while many of their other senior players are the wrong side of 30. On the other hand, the Dortmund bosses supported his coach and smartly invested in fresh blood.
The sale of Christian Pulisic to Chelsea for £ 58 million ($ 77 million) also gives them plenty of money for the summer transfer market, allowing Favre to continue to shape the team the way he wants. Jadon Sancho continues to improve and Zorc has repeatedly insisted he will reject all advances to the English extreme. He will be a key part of his future in an attempt to recover from this year's domestic disappointment.
The collapse of this season may end up being the conquest of Borussia Dortmund, as well as Liverpool's final disappointment in the Champions League. The Reds bounced back better than ever to reach the final eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich while also chasing eventual Premier League champion Manchester City on the final day of the season. With Bayern still in transition, perhaps Dortmund could be Germany's Liverpool and get inspired by former coach Jurgen Klopp!