In life, it’s said nothing is certain except death and Bayern Munich winning the Bundesliga.
For a while this season, it seemed their winning streak, having last failed to lift the championship in 2012, would come to an end.
A humbling 5-1 loss at Eintracht Frankfurt on matchday 10 left them reeling, four points adrift of Borussia Dortmund, who seemed to be firing on all cylinders. The result ultimately cost Niko Kovac his job.
This is not a new experience for Germany’s most successful club. Carlo Ancelotti was sacked early into his second campaign as manager, before they romped home under a familiar figure.
This season, Jupp Heynckes wasn’t the man Bayern called upon in their hour of need. Instead, they promoted Kovac’s right-hand man, and a former player, Hans-Dieter Flick. It turned out to be another masterstroke, even if he was blessed with an elite squad.
Bayern under Flick were simply irresistible. And with two matches remaining, they have secured a 30th championship.
Along the way (even with Kovac in charge, in some aspects) the Bavarian giants were a class apart, collectively and individually.
To call Bayern first among equals in Germany’s top division would be selling them short. They are, without any shadow of doubt, the Bundesliga’s premier team. Their demise was greatly exaggerated; losing club legends in the guise of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery last summer felt like a watershed moment, but they’ve responded like champions.
— #MEI8TER (@FCBayern) June 17, 2020
Another championship means Bayern have won eight on the bounce. An unprecedented feat across Europe’s top five leagues which matches Juventus’ achievement from last season.
Chances are, the Bianconeri will secure a nine-peat this campaign. But you wouldn’t bet against Die Roten equalling that record yet again in 12 months time.
Can’t be stopped
Flick flicked the switch. Before the powers that be promoted him, Bayern had won five of their first 10 league outings. Scattered across those games were just two defeats, but an immediate response never came. The defending champions would lose two of Flick’s opening four games (against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Mönchengladbach back-to-back). However, those turned out to be their last major setbacks. Since then, it’s been nothing but wins. To be exact, 17 in 18 matches. They only dropped points in a goalless encounter with RB Leipzig.
30 – @FCBayernEN celebrate their 30th German championship. FC Bayern have now won 29 out of 57 titles since the foundation of the Bundesliga in 1963 – more than all other clubs combined (28). Superiority. #SVWFCB pic.twitter.com/hCztkjjT6p
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) June 16, 2020
Following that game Bayern have won 11 on the bounce, conceding eight and scoring 35 times, a run they’ve not managed since the heyday of Pep Guardiola (from May to October 2015).
Claiming the league’s outright record for longest winning run (19) — set in the 2013/14 season — is out of reach this season given there’s two matches remaining, but you wouldn’t bet against them from matching it later this year.
All hail the new assist king in town
It’s crazy to remember that earlier this season there was a sense Thomas Müller was headed for the exit door. Although he featured in each of Bayern’s first 10 games under Kovac, he’d only complete the full 90 minutes once, having started five times. Even during that spell, Müller proved his worth, from a productivity standpoint, assisting four goals.
However, since Flick’s appointment the self-proclaimed raumdeuter (or space interpreter) has reached a new plateau. Renowned for his goalscoring, Müller has established himself as the Bundesliga’s new creative force. Bayern’s win against Bayer Leverkusen earlier this month saw him register his sixth assist brace subsequently bringing Müller’s overall tally to 20 a new single-season record which surpasses Kevin De Bruyne’s effort (19) for Wolfsburg in 2014/15.
Last season, Franck Ribéry became the first player in history to win nine Bundesliga titles.
Tonight, Thomas Müller and David Alaba joined him.
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 16, 2020
Müller’s renaissance earned him a new contract in April, which will keep him in Bavaria until June 2023. In turn this presents the possibility of bolstering his already full trophy cabinet. The recent triumph saw him lift the Bundesliga shield for a record ninth time. He’s not alone in this exclusive group; David Alaba, another who came through Bayern’s youth set-up, also made history. Both join former teammate Ribéry.
Goals, goals, goals
Don’t expect Bayern to let up now they’ve got their hands on the prize. Flick could very well enter rotation mode, handing those sitting on the periphery rare starts, but the champions will be equally hungry for goals. As things stand, they’ve notched 93 across 32 league games, which is a new Bundesliga best. This means Bayern are on the cusp of smashing another record, which their 1971/72 team presently hold. Back then Udo Lattek’s men registered 101 goals. Flick’s current incarnation is nine goals away from breaking this Bundesliga record.
You have to fancy their chances, as Bayern have managed to score at least four goals in a single game 12 times. It’s something no German top-flight side has achieved since Stuttgart in the 1996/97 season. Their final games include meetings with Freiburg (home) and Wolfsburg (away). In the reverse fixtures, Bayern managed a combined five goals, nevertheless it should be fascinating to watch another record being chased down.
One revelation this season has undoubtedly been full-back Alphonso Davies, who does not even enter his 20s till November this year. Davies truly emerged last season, but this has been his breakthrough campaign, such has been his incredible ascent Alaba, a quality left-back in his own right, is now predominantly found playing in central defence (and continues to excel).
Davies possesses every attribute to become an undisputed world-class player, the pace and vision he’s already demonstrated is frightening, and we’ve not even touched upon his creative and attacking streak.
— OptaFranz (@OptaFranz) June 16, 2020
Regularly making headlines, for all the right reasons, the Canadian international was recently likened to Looney Tunes character Road Runner by Müller after demonstrating his breathtaking speed to win back possession from Erling Haaland.
In their championship-winning game, Davies cemented that speedster reputation by clocking at 22.7mph, which is a new Bundesliga record. You have to keep pinching yourself, but it seems we really are witnessing the birth of another great. Considering the youthful makeup of this Bayern team, you would be a brave person to bet against him winning even more titles.
Lewa gets even better
Someone at the other end of his professional career is Robert Lewandowski, who turns 32 next month. To suggest he’s slowing down, though, would be laughable. The lethal Polish marksman is officially enjoying his most prolific Bundesliga campaign. Before this season, he’d reach 30 goals on two separate occasions (2015/16 and 2016/17) but never managed to go one step further.
He corrected that against Werder this season when his 31st strike, which also earned Bayern their 30th championship, saw him equal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s scoring record in a single-season by a foreign player in the league.
Robert Lewandowski has now scored 31 goals in the Bundesliga this season, the most he has ever managed in a single league campaign in his senior career.
Super Saiyan. 🔥 pic.twitter.com/jucgRpxvlC
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 16, 2020
It feels like a lifetime ago, but Lewandowski began the 2019/20 season in spectacular fashion. Even if Bayern were not fully operational, he couldn’t stop finding the net. He became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in each of the first 11 matches of a season with a record 16 goals. A three-match barren spell would follow, but since then it’s been 15 goals in the same amount of appearances. If he finishes as top-scorer, winning another Torjägerkanone, it will be his fifth in seven seasons leaving him two behind Gerd Müller’s record haul.
Here, there and everywhere
It’s been a relatively quiet, albeit productive, season for Joshua Kimmich, who is now at home in the heart of Bayern’s midfield. For a while it seemed, the German international was Philipp Lahm’s heir apparent but like the former Munich skipper Kimmich’s versatility and positional sense is outstanding, the same can also be said about his lungs.
He and Müller are the outfield players with most appearances (31) under their belts. But unlike the latter, everything seemingly goes through him. Put one way, Bayern possession has revolved around Kimmich like no one else.
No one in the Bundesliga has made more touches (3,137) than Kimmich, which goes hand in hand with the fact he also made the most passes (2,456) in the division. A feat made possible by the exceptional fitness (Kimmich has been available for virtually every Bundesliga minute this season) and technical ability.
It’s early days and harder challenges will come, notably team-building as well reacting to rivals strengthening, but all of that being said, Flick’s tenure looks promising. Of course, naysayers will point to Carlo Ancelotti and Kovac as examples of those who started well before the wheels came off, but at the very least his man-management style works on this group of players. Unlike the aforementioned pair his opening salvo harkens back to Guardiola’s beginnings.
In fact — when factoring all competitions — Flick has done better than Manchester City’s current boss (who, let’s not forget, inherited treble winners). He’s won 26 of his first 29 games, which is the best start by any Bayern boss ever, beating Guardiola’s 22 in 27. Flick must surely fancy his chances of winning a domestic double, they have a DFB-Pokal final against Bayer Leverkusen next month, and if the Champions League does resume, Bayern have to be among the favourites.