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10 things on the Rhine derby between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne

Jeffrey Monkhouse

Updated: Oct 09, 2022 03:13

10 things on the Rhine derby between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne


One of the longest-running rivalries in the Bundesliga is the Rhine derby between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne, two of the biggest teams in Germany competing for supremacy in the region.

As two of the biggest teams in Germany compete for supremacy in the Rhine region, the matchup between Borussia Mönchengladbach and Cologne is one of the Bundesliga's most illustrious rivalries. will introduce you 10 things of the Rhine derby...

1) You're not even on the Rhine?

When you think about derbies, you often see rival cities, nearby cities, or significant cities that have traditionally fought for regional dominance. Well, none of it applies here. Cologne, the city on the Rhine with the highest population, is larger than Dusseldorf, the capital of North Rhine-Westphalia, which is located 20 miles downstream. There is no river in Mönchengladbach, which has a population of about 25,000. It is located in the Lower Rhine region of the Netherlands, which is between the Rhine and the Meuse.

Bayer Leverkusen, Fortuna Düsseldorf, and Duisburg are other clubs with a Rhine-based foundation that have participated in the Bundesliga. When these teams compete, there is always some local rivalry there, but none come close to the one between Cologne and Gladbach. The two most successful clubs in the area, with two and five Bundesliga championships, have been competing against one another since the 1950s (the present Cologne was created after a merger in 1948).

Today's rivalry is so intense that a well-known event occurred on a TV quiz show. When asked "Which club won the Bundesliga 2 title in 2018/19?" in a July 2020 episode of Gefragt - Gejagt, the German equivalent of The Chase, participant and Gladbach fan Claus Blümel had a chance to win €500. Even though he was aware of the solution, he chose to remark, "No, I'm not mentioning their name."Following the performance, Gladbach gave their devoted supporter a shirt and a €500 gift card.

2) The Weisweiler derby

The distance between the RheinEnergieStadion and Borussia-Park is about an hour, however Hennes Weisweiler connects the two teams. For both, the man whose name was given to the coaching academy of the German FA is legendary. In addition to playing and coaching for Cologne from 1937 to 1952, he also served as the club's head coach from 1955 to 1958. However, it was his 11 years at Borussia that catapulted him to fame.


At both Rhine clubs, Hennes Weisweiler has a famous reputation.

Given the job on the recommendation of Germany head coach Sepp Herberger, Weisweiler led Gladbach to Bundesliga promotion in 1965 in his first full season in charge, promoting young players like Günter Netzer and Jupp Heynckes. His refreshing attacking football earned Borussia the nickname "The Foals" due to their galloping play that made opponents look old. He won the Bundesliga three times, as well as the 1975 DFB Cup and UEFA Cup. After a year in charge of Barcelona, he returned to Cologne in 1976 for a third spell and led them to the only domestic double in their history, in 1978.

3) The most exciting final day ever?

Numerous times in the Bundesliga, the championship was decided on the last day or even the last second, but the 1977–78 campaign was by far the most notable. Although they were the inaugural Bundesliga champions, Cologne hadn't won the Meisterschale since the 1963–1964 campaign. Even though they had been in first place since Matchday 13, coming into the final day they had the same number of points as three-time defending champions Gladbach. You would think that because the Billy Goats were 10 goals ahead, defeating already-relegated St. Pauli would be sufficient. The Foals on the other hand knew they had to win big, which they did.

Heynckes scored five goals as they destroyed Borussia Dortmund 12-0 for the biggest victory in Bundesliga history. Back in 1978, fans at the Rheinstadion and also in Hamburg at the Millerntor were hooked to any radio they could get their hands on, with news of goals being carried around the stadiums because you couldn't check the Bundesliga app for the most recent scores. Before Cologne ultimately took the lead at Pauli, Gladbach led 4-0. It implied that the Foals had to keep going and, by halftime, had six, which was halfway to erasing the deficit. The Billy Goats scored four more goals themselves in the final half-hour to win 5-0 and leave Borussia three goals short, ensuring that Weisweiler and Cologne would win the Meisterschale. Another six goals were scored after the interval (for the final time to date).

4) Netzer puts himself on

Even though the two teams didn't compete for the championship in 1977–1978, one of the most well-known rivalry matches took place in the DFB Cup final five years earlier. Herbert Neumann of Cologne equalized Herbert Wimmer's first-half goal in Düsseldorf, but there was no winner at the end of 90 minutes. In addition to a title and local bragging rights, the match served as Netzer's last for Gladbach before moving on to Real Madrid. Weisweiler, however, decided to start Wimmer, a goal scorer, rather than his playmaker because he was thinking ahead.


Before scoring the game-winning goal for Gladbach in the 1973 DFB Cup final, Günter Netzer replaced himself.

During extra time, the local youngster had a change of heart and, not the coach, decided enough was enough. After finishing his conversation with the weary Christian Kulik, Netzer removed his training shoes and approached Weisweiler, saying, "I'm going to play now." He essentially filled in for himself. Netzer's goal from outside the box was the game-winning goal after three minutes and just two touches. Even though he later claimed that he didn't even strike the ball properly and that scoring was nearly an accident, the goal nonetheless managed to go in and is now remembered as one of the oddest in German football history.

5) UEFA Cup semi-finals

In the final, the regional rivals had met five times in 1972–73. The home victories in the Bundesliga games were 5-2 and 3-1, but the first of those victories—on Matchday 16 at Mönchengladbach—was sandwiched by two legs of their third-round UEFA Cup match. Borussia won 5-0 in the second match after the first meeting in November ended in a scoreless draw in Cologne, giving them 10 goals against their opponents in just 11 days. The Foals would go on to compete in their first European championship, but they would lose to Liverpool 3-2 overall.


Gladbach defeated rival Cologne to win their first European championship, with Weisweiler (r.) carrying the UEFA Cup.

Two years later, the Rhine derby made its way back into the European stage, highlighting the heydays of both clubs in the 1970s. This time, it was in the semifinals, and Gladbach won 3-1 to take a 1-0 lead into the second leg in Cologne. Allan Simonsen scored twice in the victory. They would add to it with a 1-0 victory at the Böckelberg two weeks later, moving on to the final, which they defeated Twente 2-0 to win and win their first continental trophy. It will have made the celebrations even sweeter to have eliminated Cologne in the process.

Their two Bundesliga 2 seasons together (1999/2000 and 2007/08) turned out to be more competitive. Borussia won the first game 3-1 at home before the reverse match ended in a 1-1 tie. And most recently, a pair of 2-2 and 1-1 draws were seen by an average of 52,000 spectators. The Foals were eliminated twice by the Billy Goats in the DFB Cup, both times at Mönchengladbach (3-2 in the 1969–70 quarterfinals and 5-3 in the 1974–75 second round). However, Borussia holds the distinction of having won their only final together in 1973. The four UEFA Cup matches resulted in three Gladbach victories and a draw, as was already reported.

7) Famous Bundesliga encounters

Naturally, the roots of this rivalry can be found in the Bundesliga, where a number of notable matches have taken place. In November 1965, Cologne defeated Mönchengladbach 3-2 to win the inaugural match in the premier division. However, some of the most memorable derby victories for Effzeh supporters have come in recent years and in dramatic fashion. They had their largest derby victory in October 1977 with a 5-2 away triumph under Weisweiler. The most famous instance may have been at Borussia-Park in November 2016 when they won 2-1. The most recent instance occurred in January 2018 when Simon Terodde's header in the fifth minute of extra time handed them a 2-1 victory at home. Anthony Modeste and Lars Stindl were even until Cologne was awarded a free kick in extra time. Marcel Risse decided to hit it from almost 30 yards, picking out the top corner.

As mentioned, there’s been plenty for Gladbach fans to shout about in Bundesliga clashes down the years. Their first victory in 1967 kickstarted a run of eight in a row over the Billy Goats, which is the best streak in this fixture. Their best result is a couple of 5-1 victories: one in Cologne back in November 1984 but most recently at home in April 2011. The latter was part of another run of Borussia dominance as they won 4-0, 5-1, 3-0 and 3-0 before a goalless draw another 1-0 win. It meant they conceded just once over three seasons together at the start of the decade. Heynckes is the record goalscorer in this fixture with 10 goals for Gladbach, together with Uwe Rahn, who got his for both sides.

8) Crossing the Rhine

While the city of Cologne spans both banks of the Rhine, their RheinEnergieStadion home in the neighborhood of Müngersdorf is on the left bank. It's not truly a case of people crossing the Rhine when they swap sides because it's on the same side as Mönchengladbach, but you get the idea. Only 25 players, including Rahn, Thomas Broich, Toni Polster, and Rainer Bonhof, have represented both. After playing nearly 100 games for Cologne in the 1980s and over 300 for Gladbach in the 1970s, the latter—a FIFA World Cup champion and two-time European champion with Germany—became Borussia's coach in 1998. He later became the club's vice president in 2009, and he continues to hold that position today.


Rainer Bonhof (c.), a World Cup winner, had a successful playing career for both clubs, but he is currently Gladbach's vice president.

Only Rahn, Broich, and Hans-Georg Dreßen made the switch from Mönchengladbach to Cologne; Polster remained the most notable player to make the switch in the other direction. The striker, who was a legend in the Cathedral City, joined the arch-rivals after the club's first Bundesliga relegation in 1998.

9) Bundesliga's first 'ghost game'

In March 2020, the Rhine derby earned a regrettable place in Bundesliga history. Due to a storm in the vicinity, the 90th Bundesliga match that was scheduled to take place on February 9 at Borussia-Park had to be postponed. It was rescheduled for March 11, just a few days before the course of history shifted. The encounter marked the first-ever Geisterspiele—closed-door games—in the history of the Bundesliga (ghost games). Unbeknownst to us at the time, Gladbach won 2-1 in what would turn out to be the final Bundesliga match until May.

10) Foals against Billy Goats

Two of the Bundesliga's most recognizable mascots belong to Gladbach and Cologne. The sole remaining mascot in the league, Hennes IX the goat, is prominently displayed on Cologne's crest along with the eagle Attila of Eintracht Frankfurt. Cirque director Carola Williams gave the club the original Hennes as a fortunate charm in 1950. He adopted Weisweiler as his moniker because he was the player-coach at the time. The club's moniker Die Geißböcke (Billy Goats) and its practice facility, the Geißbockheim (billy goats' home), are both derived from Hennes the goat.


The Bundesliga's two most recognizable mascots are Hennes IX (on the left) and Jünter (on the right).

Jünter, who took his name from Gladbach's own club great Netzer, didn't make his professional debut until 1999. Borussia's foal is based on their name, which ironically originated under Weisweiler, whereas Cologne's goat gave them their moniker. In reference to how young they were and how furiously they galloped around, his squad from the 1960s and 1970s was known as the Fohlenelf (Foals XI).

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