There have been many great treble-winning teams in history. Manchester United of 1999, FC Barcelona of 2009, Inter Milan of 2010, and now most recently, Bayern Münich of 2013. After recently confirming their technically four trophy season with a 3-2 victory over VFB Stuttgart they now stake their name in a very exclusive club of teams to accomplish the feat. Led by Jupp Heynckes, Bayern have achieved arguably their greatest ever season in modern times winning the Bundesliga title, the UEFA Champions League along with the German Super-Cup and the domestic Pokal Cup. All done in a devastatingly dominating manner of clinicalness, power and pristine play on the ball. However, can this Bayern side filled with world class players as well as coaching staff be compared to the great sides that have gone before them? Or can they build on the now laid foundations to create the greatest side ever witnessed in world football?
The ascendancy of Bayern this season could well have been aided by previous failures. Losing two UEFA Champions League finals in the space of three seasons can have serious effect on professionals hungry for the taste of success. Especially those loyal players such as
captain Philipp Lahm or central midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger. As well as not having won the biggest prize in world football in twelve years Bayern, who are classed as one of Europe’s heavyweights have had nothing to show for their work. The rise of Borussia Dortmund claiming two Bundesliga titles in a row as well as acquiring a Pokal Cup also meant that Bayern’s place as the top dogs of German football was slipping away. A spot that they had been holding comfortably for the decade. Something had to change.
This change came in a number of different ways however none as formidable as the appointment of previously interim manager Jupp Heynckes as the successor of Louis van Gaal in July 2011. It can be seen that Heynckes had taken advantage of some of van Gaal’s work in implementing previously winger Bastian Schweinsteiger into a more central, holding position as well as taking young stars in Thomas Müller, Holger Badstuber and Toni Kroos into his starting eleven. However his first season in charge did not achieve the hype that surrounded it losing out in the Bundesliga title race to Borussia Dortmund as well as suffering a semi final loss to eventual winners Schalke 04 in the DFB Pokal not to mention a second UEFA Champions League final loss in three years. Changes would once again have to be made.
And they were. The acquisition of €40 million rated Athletic Bilbao midfielder Javi Martinez, highly rated Swiss wide playmaker Xherdan Shaqiri, Brazilian defender Dante, along with forwards Claudio Pizarro and Mario Mandžukić brought Münich’s spending total to over the €70 million mark. However these signings proved crucial in the season to follow. These key signings along with the development of Austrian left back David Alaba and the re-development of wide men Frank Ribéry and Arjen Robben as to aid the defense set up created a masterpiece for which Jupp Heynckes to work with.
In the duration of the 2012/13 season Bayern maintained the lowest goals conceded within the top European leagues whilst scoring 98 goals along their way with only one loss coming at the hands of Bayer Leverkusen, winning 4 trophies, whilst also breaking the Bundesliga point record with
a total of 91 from 34 games played, and claiming the league title in record fashion with 6 games to spare. Impressive, but they weren’t quite finished there. They also claimed the domestic German cup as well as the UEFA Champions League for a fifth time to name but a few. Perhaps a highlight of this overwhelming supremacy coming at the expense of FC Barcelona when the German outlet obliterated the Catalan giants favourited by many to claim the European title, 7-0 on aggregate. A UEFA Champions League semi final record.
However how do this state-of-the-art Bayern side contend with past dominants of the game? The teams of Sir Alex Ferguson, the Barcelona regime under Pep Guardiola or the Real Madrid of the 1950’s. Can this Bayern side surpass all previous greats and encrypt their name into the modern day history books? They most certainly think so. With a long term plan in mind with the appointment of previous Barca boss Pep Guardiola as manager and the purchase of highly rated German future star Mario Götze as well as the likely addition of fellow Borussia Dortmund forward Robert Lewandowski, ‘Die Bayern’ look set for the long hall as the empirical side in world football.