Are we entering the age of Bayern?
Published: 23.06.13 / Written by: David Gold
With Bayern Munich securing a treble for the first time in their history this weekend they laid to rest the ghosts of past failures.
In 1999 they had been on course for a treble, only to be blown off course by Manchester United in the European Cup final. Last year they were similarly beaten at the last by Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga and German Cup, and Chelsea in the Champions League final at their very own home. So victory over Stuttgart, surprisingly nervously, at the weekend secured a redemption that marks them down in history, according to chief executive Karl Heinz Rummenigge, as “immortal”.
This is certainly a remarkable Bayern Munich team and few men can have gone out of the game on the same high as Jupp Heynckes. Hardly the most glamorous of coaches, but Heynckes leaves the game having won the treble. And also having won one of the most impressive Bundesliga titles in history, arguably the greatest single season ever in the league. Bayern finished with a record points haul, the most wins in a season, the most away wins, the biggest goal difference, the fewest goals conceded and the earliest a team has ever won the league. They also scored 98 goals in a 34 game division. Few teams every reach that figure in 38 game leagues.
Bayern’s dominance has been remarkable. Six teams have been hit for six by Bayern this season in all competitions, and one team were beaten by nine. In the Champions League Barcelona were thrashed 7-0 on aggregate, the first time in 15 years they’d lost a home game in the competition and the first time ever that they had lost both legs of a Champions League tie.
Bayern won 25 of 27 games in 2013. And the two they didn’t win were hardly the most important. One was a draw with Borussia Dortmund in the league long after the title had already been won anyway. The other was the 2-0 home defeat to Arsenal in the Champions League last sixteen. That was the only big match they lost all season, but even then they had won the first leg 3-1 and so were pretty much through anyway, and as it was, they progressed.
So you’d think given all of this that the last thing they’d need was to radically improve their squad and coaching staff. But in come Mario Gotze, probably Robert Lewandowski and Pep Guardiola, and you can bet their spending is not completed just yet. This is a team who are seemingly set to dominate for years to come. They have a modern and still relatively new stadium, no debt, they post profits every year and have huge amounts of cash to spend. In Guardiola, they have a perfectionist coach who was the envy of the world and desire of all when he was on his sabbatical earlier this year. This Bayern team can surely only get better. Lewandowski is an upgrade on Mario Mandzukic, whilst Gotze can add guile and craft going forward. Not that they lack that anyway. But Guardiola will get them playing more through the middle, slightly less direct, perhaps more intensely, and with a greater focus on ball retention.
That is ominous. This is a team who seem set to dominate both at home and abroad for a little while yet.