The Dortmund fans made their disapproval of RB Leipzig perfectly clear on its visit to Westfalonstadion on Saturday. Banners were unfurled on the Yellow Wall stand behind one goal that read: “We are for the people’s sport, football, but against those who ruin it.” Another came out which said, “Red Bull, enemy of football.” There were some skirmishes between fans and on the pitch, the rivalry was all too clear to see.
Dortmund sees itself as representing traditional football club that represents its community; the difference with RB Leipzig, newly formed and seen by critics as a marketing vehicle, is obvious. But there also similarities between the two, not least in how they play, the type of players they recruit and the fact that RB Leipzig sporting director Ralf Rangnick was a former coach of and mentor to Dortmund boss Thomas Tuchel.
This was a high-pressure game for Tuchel. His side, and not Rangnick’s, was expected to be pushing Bayern Munich for the title this season. And after Bayern dropped points in a lethargic draw against Schalke, this was an opportunity for both to close the gap. The host took it, thanks to a burst of speed and skill from Ousmane Dembele, who burst past two players and crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to score the only goal. It moved Dortmund from seventh to fourth, still eight points behind Leipzig, which was missing key players Timo Werner and Emil Forsberg.
Leipzg thought it had salvaged a late point, but Federico Palacio Martinez’s goal was chalked off, correctly, for offside. The bad blood spilled over onto the benches, where Tuchel could be seen making a chatter-chatter gesture to the opposition after the offside call.
Dortmund deserved the win–Marco Reus could have doubled the lead in the second half–and Tuchel will hope he has enough in the tank to overhaul a new bitter rival. For Leipzig, even knowing its opponent was that rattled shows it is doing something right.