1. Season 2001/02
Bayer Leverkusen has earned a reputation for being unlucky in terms of silverware. Back in season 2001-02, the German outfit found themselves contesting for a treble by the end of the season.
In the Bundesliga, Leverkusen was sporting a 5-point lead over Borussia Dortmund with 3 games left to go. However, successive defeats to Werder Bremen and Nuremberg saw the title slip through their fingers and into Dortmund’s waiting hands. Even a final day victory over Hertha Berlin proved inadequate for Leverkusen, as defeats in the DfB Cup and Champions League finals against Schalke and Real Madrid respectively rendered their season trophy-less.
2. Season 1977/78
In what was one of the greatest title races to remember, Borussia Monchengladbach and Cologne locked antlers in a heated battle, even though the former hadn’t led the league table even once.
With 2 games left to go and both clubs equal on a tally of 42 points, both won their outings as the results for the winner boiled down to goal difference.
With Monchengladbach facing Dortmund and Cologne contesting St. Pauli on the final day, the former required to make up 10 goals on the latter to put a claim for the title.
Monchengladbach slaughtered Dortmund with an impressive 12-0 scoreline, but Cologne safely lifted the title with a 5-0 drubbing of St. Pauli.
3. Season 1985/86
Werder Bremen and Bayern Munich slogged hard all season until the latter won the league title on the final day in an action-packed drama.
The Bavarians had been breathing down the necks of Bremen until the second-last game; The Green-Whites conjured all but a stalemate against Bayern on Matchday 33. Michael Kutzop had a glorious chance to seal the title when he stepped up to take a penalty against Bayern in the dying embers of the game.
However, he missed what would have been the 8th goal from 12 yards that season.
On the final day of the showdown, Bremen required only a draw but succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Stuttgart. Bayern then lifted the title after smashing six past Borussia Monchengladbach, thanks to a better goal difference.
4. Season 2000/01
FC Schalke has never been known to win the modern Bundesliga, albeit they have seven league titles to their name in history. They came within seconds of winning the Meisterschale in season 2000-01, only to let Bayern snatch the morsel right out of their mouths.
Schalke beat Bayern 3-1 on Matchday 29 at home and moved two points ahead of them atop the table. However, as the final day arrived, the Bavarians had wrestled back the lead – three points ahead of Die Knappen. All Schalke needed was a win at Unterhaching and hope that Bayern lost to Hamburg.
Schalke won their game after twice clawing back from 2-0 and 3-2 to a 5-3 victory. In the parallel game of Bayern and Hamburg, the latter were leading the scoreline until the stoppage time, as the Schalke fans had already started their celebrations. However, an indirect free-kick and a Patrick Andersson shot later, Bayern soaked themselves in the glory of yet another Bundesliga triumph. Andersson etched his name into the history books at the Allianz, an unlikely hero who scored his only scored for the club that day.
5. Season 1983/84
A three-horse race decided on goal difference. Does it get any tighter than this?
Hamburg, Stuttgart, and Monchengladbach finished the league on the same points in what was probably the best title race ever witnessed in the German top-tier.
On Matchday 33, Hamburg was left stunned by a 2-0 victory by visitors Frankfurt while a late winner against Werder Bremen allowed Stuttgart to cushion a three-point lead over Hamburg and Monchengladbach ahead of the final day and with the best goal-difference amongst the trio.
Hamburg needed to thrash Stuttgart by a 5-0 margin but managed to win only 1-0. Meanwhile, Monchengladbach eased past Arm. Belfield to make it to 48 points in total – equal to that of Hamburg and Monchengladbach. Stuttgart won the competition thanks to a better goal difference in contrast to their counterparts.