Josef Heynckes won the treble with Bayern Munich last season and handed Pep Guardiola a club unbeaten in the last 25 games of the league. Guardiola’s task of emulating his predecessor seemed near impossible, Bayern were near perfect last season, how is he expected to add more quality and improve such a side? Bayern lost the German Super Cup against Borussia Dormund early in the season and there was a lot of criticism because the tiki-taka game was not destined to suit Bayern.
Despite the shaky start in the league, Munich won all their games in the first few months. Later on, they gelled better together and now it seems obvious that they are unstoppable, they went on to avoid a loss in another 25 games making it a total of 50, breaking the record set by Arsenal. The record doesn’t stop here, Bayern have dominated the league not because the other teams are weak but because they seem to be from a different planet, they scored 74 goals and conceded 12 which means a goal difference of 62 goals, more than the number of goals scored by any other team and more than twice the goal difference of the second best team, Borussia Dortmund. They are highly likely to win the league this month, breaking the record of the earliest time the Bundesliga was ever won which is in the first week of April.
The interesting thing is that Guardiola has also evolved with his new team, in Barcelona most of the attacking work was finished by Lionel Messi, this time around, Mario Mandzukic is the team’s top goalscorer but with only 17 goals to his name, just one more than his rival and future Bayern player Robert Lewandowski. A total of 15 different players have found the back of the net this season in the league for Bayern, three of whom have double figures: Arjen Robben(10), Thomas Müller (12) and Mario Mandzukic (17). In terms of assists also 15 players are involved which leaves only the two goalkeepers Manuel Neuer and Tom Starke without being involved in any goal.
In the Champions League, Bayern finished top of their group and they eased past Arsenal to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. Out of the possible teams they might face, perhaps no one poses a big threat as much as Real Madrid do, but Guardiola has proved his ability to deal with ‘Los Merengues’ on countless occasions in La Liga when he was with Barcelona. Bayern’s strength is their unity and reliance on each other, though Real Madrid have evolved a lot under Carlo Ancelotti and they seem to be a strong force that could steal the title away from Bayern.
The league has already been won and the fans are taking it for granted because they deserve more from such a strong squad at their disposal. Although a lot of factors are going their way, the latest scandal that his club president Uli Hoeneß should not affect the performance of the team on the pitch. The president might be in jail for evading taxes but the club remains as strong as ever, the army only lost one soldier. The players need to keep their focus on the sports aspect of the game and forget about marketing or advertisement campaigns or even about their World Cup hopes. They can make history this season and giving 99% might not be enough.
Football is about cycles, every now and then a team dominates the game, this time around it’s Bayern’s turn, though their responsibility is not only to maintain that but to also keep on entertaining their fans and the neutrals with their wonderful display. The Champions League, in its current format, has never been won twice consecutively by the same team, but it seems Bayern might just break that trend.