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Know Your Enemies: Borussia Dortmund

Liverpool's next Europa League opponent, Borussia Dortmund, will likely be the stiffest competition yet. Here, we take a closer look at BVB, and what the hell that actually stands for (hint: probably something German).

Clint Hughes/Getty Images

There seems to be a higher-than-average crossover between Liverpool and Dortmund fans, and for good reason. Both clubs have rabid fan support. Both of those rabid fan sections proudly belt out the anthem, "You'll Never Walk Alone." Both are among the biggest teams in their country. Both sport iconic, flashy kits. Both have a long history of European success. And of course the newest thread that ties these great clubs together: Jürgen Norbert Klopp.

In late December 1909, eighteen footballers from Dortmund got together to form Ballspielverein Borussia (BVB) 09 einetragener Verein (e.V.) Dortmund. Not going to lie, that is a mouthful. Ballspielverein can very roughly be translated to "ball play club" and einetragener Verein to "registered association." And while we're unpacking the name, Borussia is the latin name for Prussia. However, the Borussia part of the name actually came from local Borussia Brewery. Did I mention the founders held their first meeting in a pub?

I think we can all agree that simply Dortmund or BVB is better. Nicknames don't stop there, of course, and they can also be referred to as Die Borussen or Die Schwarzgelben (The Black and Yellows).

The club may now be famous for their yellow and black kits, but they didn't start donning them until 1913. For the first several years, BVB wore blue and white striped shirts with a red sash and black shorts. Great call making the change.

Dortmund played primarily in local leagues until the 1930s, when the formation of the Gauliga saw the club gain greater national prominence. In this era, Schalke 04 were the biggest club around, and the Ruhr Derby can trace its roots to this period.

After the war, BVB, like all other organizations, was temporarily dissolved by Allied Forces. Regardless, the club was back competing for its first national title in 1949, ultimately losing in the final to VfR Mannheim 3-2. Six years later, the club would finally earn its first German top-flight title in 1955-56, and follow up with its second the very next year. Today, the club has the third-most top-flight crowns with eight, behind only Bayern Munich's eye-watering 25, and 1. FC Nürnberg's 9. However, Nürnberg's 9 titles is a bit misleading, as their last domestic triumph occurred in the 1967-68 season. Since that point, Dortmund have been one of the two best clubs in the league, behind Die Roten.

Of course, Dortmund have also found success in Europe. In fact, they hold the distinction of being the first German team to lift a European trophy, winning the 1966 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in a 2-1 extra time win over, you guessed it, Liverpool. The Reds would have to wait 35 years for payback, which they accomplished with a 2-0 win and a 1-1 draw in the group stages of the 2001-2002 Champions League. Liverpool would win the group, en route to the quarterfinals, whereas Dortmund finished third in the group, but managed to make it to the final of the UEFA Cup before losing to Feyenoord 3-2 (on the Dutch side's home ground, no less). BVB were also the runner's up in the UEFA Cup in 1992-93, but have yet to win the competition.

But they have won the Champions League, a feat accomplished by beating Juventus 3-1 in Munich's now-defunct Olympic Stadium. It must have been especially sweet to win Europe's highest honor in their domestic rival's hometown. Bayern would get the last laugh, because they always do, defeating Dortmund 2-1 in the first ever all-German Champions League final in 2012-13.

Liverpool will take the trip to Dortmund's Westfalenstadion--the largest football stadium in Germany--Thursday night, with the return fixture kicking off at Anfield a week later.

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