Despite winning the Bundesliga in record style, Bayern Munich still have much to prove
Rarely has the term Rekordmeister been quite so fitting for FC Bayern. Last Saturday, for the 23rd time in their history, the German giants were crowned national champions. It has been a season which has seen them consolidate their dominance of German football not only in total number of titles, but also in the number of records they have broken between now and last August.
Bayern have been crowned champions with six games still to play in the season – a record in the Bundesliga. The 1-0 win over Frankfurt on Saturday was their eleventh victory in a row – a record in the Bundesliga. The same result continued their astonishing run of having dropped exactly zero points in 2013 – a record in the Bundesliga. Their coach is Jupp Heynckes who, at 67, is the oldest man to have ever coached a German side to the title. The list goes on.
Such was the ecstasy on the banks of the Isar that even Uli Hoeness was lost for words: “I can barely articulate how great this title is for me. I’ve rarely seen a Bayern team this dominant,” the Bayern chairman beamed at the weekend.
You would imagine, then, that this record breaking championship would call for a record breaking celebration. More money to be spent on confetti, Weißbier and the inevitable team dinner than ever before. Louder music, dancing lasting late into the night than ever, and the relief from all the immense pressure which has been building over the past three years.
You would be wrong. According to Bastian Schweinsteiger, the extent of the celebrations on Saturday night did not exceed the opening of a few bottles. Dante may have danced around manically with a paper version of the Bundesliga “Salad Bowl”, and Franck Ribéry may have clambered over the advertising hoards to thank the supporters in person, but Bayern’s celebrations had finished almost as soon as they had started.
The title, after all, was only ever the minimum expectation from this season. Even a title of such immense quality as Bayern’s has been this year. After the triple pain of last year, when Bayern faltered at the last hurdle in all three of the major competitions, this season has been about all or nothing. Questions were asked, this time last year, about whether this Bayern side was mentally strong enough to inherit the reputation of their predecessors. They seemed to have invented the phenomenon of Bavarian self-doubt, and established themselves, from 2010 to 2012, as the nearly men of European and – to a lesser extent – German football.
Even in the midst of the most dominant season ever seen from a German club side, they still have their point to prove. Even when charging towards glory in the domestic competitions and trundling steadily on in Europe, Bayern have still yet to exorcise the ghosts of last year. Complacency has crept in against everyone from Arsenal and Duesseldorf, and while they have survived those few scares, they will be wanting to avoid any more.
So perhaps it is not just Matthias Sammer’s usual grim disposition that makes him say that “It’s a great feeling, but we need to make sure we behave appropriately.” Maybe it isn’t just the infamous greed of Arjen Robben which makes him say that “we want more out of this season.”
Maybe it is indicative of a Bayern side for whom no single trophy will be enough to prove their mental strength. Ambition has always been a byword for FC Bayern, and for too long now, their ambition has been thwarted by everything from a leaky defence to complacency. It seems that they have solved those problems. But even with a 20 point lead and a 23rd Meisterschaft, this Bayern side still has a lot more to prove.Tagged in: bayern munich, football
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