The game so nearly had everything but it was the aftermath that it made it truly remarkable. Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Dortmund warmed up for next month's Champions League meetings with Chelsea and Arsenal respectively with a frantic 0-0 draw that introduced two of English football's most cherished concepts to the Bundesliga discourse.
The first one was never explicitly mentioned, yet its echo boomed heavily through the BayArena on Saturday night, a bit like Hoffenheim's anti-anti-Hoffenheim-chant-contraption. It reared its bald and less than pretty head on the hour mark, when the visitors were beginning to bring their fast attacking game to bear and Bayer were just losing some of their dominance. In one excursion forward, the formidable Renato Augusto stomped through midfield like good old Lothar Matthäus, only to finish like good old Andreas Möller: he took Mats Hummels' outstreched leg as permission from the Köln/Bonn tower to take off just outside the box.
Umpteen replays established that the Germany international had indeed clipped the Bayer midfielder's wings ever so slightly but Renato Augusto had already been on his way down by then, while Hummels was trying his hardest to draw back from the tackle. It was both a foul and a dive, and it came with a multitude of possible, match-defining outcomes. Renato Augusto could have scored. Renato Augusto, already booked, could have walked. Hummels, already booked, too, could have walked. All of which begged one super-sized question. Why the hell didn't they just stay on their feet?
Hummels explained that he was expecting his opponent to shoot and was surprised that the 23-year-old had turned with the ball again. "I did touch him. If [the ref] blows the whistle, I have to go," admitted the centre-back. Renato Augusto's thought-process remained foggy but both players were spared further introspection by the referee Wolfgang Stark. The square-jawed bank employee and Andy Townsend impersonator awarded a free-kick, mysteriously kept his cards in his pockets (for once) and thus ensured that the situation remained in the realms of hypothetical relevance.
A couple of minutes later, however, everything did change. Michal Kadlec cut straight through Mario Götze from an impossible angle and was duly shown red. The champions were threatening to make their advantage count. Leverkusen were pushed back time and time again before Stark intervened once more. Following an innocuous looking tangle of legs between Hanno Balitsch and Götze, Borussia's creative linchpin stuck out his right foot. Balitsch was neither touched nor perturbed ("I didn't know what happened," he said later) but the über-officious Stark construed the half-hearted move as a bit of afters and reached for his rear pocket in the 78th minute. "The attempt is punishable in itself," the referee declared later – the fact that Götze had also spat in the vague direction of Balitsch had made the matter worse, he added.
One the touchline, Jürgen Klopp and his assistant, Zeljko Buvac, lost it. The latter was sent to the stand, the former shouted at every official he could find. After the final whistle, Sebastian Kehl, who hadn't been able to come on in time, pushed the fourth official. The Borussia manager was still enraged enough to attack the man from Sky a few minutes later live on air. "Verdammte Scheisse, why aren't you listening to what I'm saying?" Klopp barked. The journalist's crime had been to question politely the manager's assertion that Götze's red was a gross miscarriage of justice. "For some people who have never played football it might look like retribution but it was nothing," said the 43-year-old. "They both got tangled up. When Balitsch moves his leg, he's also moving up Mario's leg."
So far, so bad. But Klopp went further, into uncharted territory, at least as far as the Bundesliga was concerned. In the process, 27 August 2011 became a day for German history books: it saw the first ever Bundesliga appearance of what is technically known as the Lee Cattermole defence. Oh yes, they did. All and sundry in black and yellow lined up to state that Götze emphatically wasn't that type of player.
"He's only trying to extricate himself there. Anyone who knows the boy, knows that he wouldn't do such a thing," said Dortmund's CEO, Hans-Joachim Watzke. "The boy wants to play football but constantly gets mowed down. We shouldn't confuse perpetrator and victim," said the sporting director, Michael Zorc. The chief defence counsel "Kloppo" hammered home the point: "I believe the personality of a player should inform the [referee's] evaluation. Mario is the last one to engage in violent conduct. He's used to getting tackled hard since he's 13 and never retaliated. Why would he start now?"
That's indeed an interesting question but one cannot possibly expect a Bavarian automaton like Stark to look for answers in the midst of battle. If anything, Götze was actually lucky to escape with a yellow seven minutes before his expulsion when he had needlessly left a boot in the midriff of Bayer's splendid Bernd Leno, 19, the latest in an endless array of excellent young keepers. Maybe "the German Messi" (Stern) was simply frustrated with having a relatively quiet afternoon, these things happen. The Leverkusen forward André Schürrle had put him in the shade with some thrilling runs.
Klopp will undoubtedly face the consequences of losing his head on the sidelines. It wasn't the first time, and it wasn't simply a rush of blood either, as Neue Ruhr Zeitung somewhat naively diagnosed. "Klopp doesn't act," they wrote. "Klopp is simply Klopp, even when he steps out of line. He truly believes [in Götze]. And he rages because he doesn't see it any other way."
To believe that is to seriously underestimate the dark side that lurks behind the floppy-haired, hoodie-wearing, I'm-your-best-buddy image. As a keen follower of the Premier League, Klopp is partial to a bit of managerial smoke-screening and official-pressuring His over-the-top reactions may have been fuelled by a real sense of injustice but it was also a piece of Narrentheater (puppet theatre), carefully staged for the benefit of the German FA's disciplinary panel. A plea of leniency, if you will, dressed up as middle-aged outrage. Klopp is precisely that kind of manager, too.
• "We want to sign another attacking player. I have several options on my list", said THE Hamburg sporting director Frank Arnesen on Sunday, while (presumably) poring over the latest match reports from the Chelsea reserves. The day before, his side lost a helter-skelter relegation battle 3-4 at home to Köln and slumped to 18th place. "This was actually our best game so far, we need to disassociate ourself from the table", argued the HSV coach, Michael Oenning. The board seem happy to toe that slightly delusional line but not forever. Off the record, there's a deadline: Oenning will need to whip this sorry bunch into shape by Christmas, at the latest.
The fortunate win – Köln were 3-2 down with six minutes to go – eased the pressure on their manager Stale Solbakken. "This was not a game for coaches with pacemaker", quipped the Norwegian.
• Philipp Lahm, in case you haven't heard yet, has written a book. "The Fine Difference" details the 27-year-old career ascent but is so short on scandal and juicy tidbits that his stating of the obvious has been manufactured into a scandal instead. Jürgen Klinsmann didn't care about tactics, Felix Magath was cruel and Rudi Völler's coaching regime had all the intensity of a "holiday camp" (Lahm)? Why, I never! The Bayern Munich and Germany captain has been widely condemned for publicly confirming the full magnitude of ineptitude that still exists at the heart of German football. It's classic case for shooting the (small, doe-eyed) messenger though. The worrisome message itself got lost in the fake anger.
At Bayern, players have seen the funny side, however. "We're all making jokes in the changing room", revealed Bastian Schweinsteiger in another outrageous case of behind-the-scenes-beans- spilling, "I've asked for a dedication", said Thomas Müller. But then it's easy to laugh when you're playing Kaiserslautern. The Red Devils had "absolutely no chance" against Bayern in the Fritz-Walter-Stadion, two soft penalties for the visitors notwithstanding. Jupp Heynckes' team have returned to the rotation-heavy Hitzfeld days: methodical, coldly efficient, top of the table. Mario Gomez scored a hat-trick, later courageously criticised Bild for ramping up the scandal factor in Lahm's book and winced as Schweinsteiger revealed that they had nick-named him "Kermit "earlier in the season, when his frog-coloured boots, since replaced with a white and red number, were misfiring.
• Speaking about not easy being green, Wolfsburg continue to struggle. But behold, help is at hand, thanks to the calendar. "Things will get better once the transfer window closes", said Felix Magath after the 3-0 defeat at SC Freiburg. "The players will feel more secure then." That seems a reasonable assumption. Maybe they could have felt a little more secure earlier on, too, if Germany's answer to 'Arry hadn't brought in eight new players and sold the same amount. It's just a hunch, of course.
Results: Hertha 1-0 Stuttgart, Hamburg 3-4 Köln, Kaiserslautern 0-3 Bayern, Nürnberg 1-0 Augsburg, Hoffenheim 1-2 Bremen, Freiburg 3-0 Wolfsburg, Leverkusen 0-0 Dortmund, Hannover 1-1 Mainz, Schalke 1-0 Gladbach.