Bayern Munich and their dominion over the Bundesliga
How Bayern established their dominance in Germany and across Europe
When that Drogba penalty kick went in, London was ecstatic and Bastian Schweinsteiger and the team lay flat on their home turf ruing their missed chances and the possibility of a European trophy in Munich.
Bayern, in an unsparing month of May 2012, was confirmed as a runner up in the league, again finished second to a deadly Dortmund team who tore them to shreds in the final. The most painful defeat of all was the Champions League final loss to Chelsea at their home which delayed Jupp Heynckes’ retirement. He did not want to go away after a depressing few weeks for the Bavarians. He stayed back, started the rebuilding process and laid the foundation for domination of the Bundesliga like never before.
Bayern has not finished second in the league after a tragic 2011-12 season and has broken numerous records in Bundesliga and Europe. This amazing consistency has not been down to one single coach. Heynckes started the run, Pep Guardiola marched ahead, Carlo Ancelotti added his numbers, Heynckes again to the rescue, Kovac, Hansi Flick has registered their name in the record books already. Can Julian Nagelsmann follow suit and win the title for record 10th time in a row with the Bavarians? Looks likely.
Bayern has had a strong foundation, even though there have been more than five different managers since that magical 2012-13 season, the team was never built around one particular player, it was the team that stood out amongst them all.
Pep Guardiola, after his sabbatical, decided to take up the Bayern job when Heynckes made it clear he was not staying beyond his tenure. Replacing Heynckes was surely a huge task, and Pep was as good a replacement as they come. He quickly made the squad his own and the coveted “Total Football” came to Allianz Arena. Although Bayern was never the team to rely on a single player, in Robert Lewandowski, they probably made one of their best ever signings. Lewandowski and Pep, along with the veterans of 2012-13, ran riot on the football pitch and Pep won Bundesliga in each of the seasons he managed Bayern.
As the Pep fever wore down at Allianz Arena, a more tactically astute manager took over the reins of Bayern, Mr. Carlo Ancelotti. Ancelotti’s Bayern was a different breed to Pep’s, they were good in possession thanks to tireless hours put in by Pep Guardiola but they were exceptional at reading their opposition and punishing them on counters. Along the way, Bayern made more clever signings like Leon Goretka, Niklas Sule, Serge Gnabry and Alphonso Davies for next to nothing and replaced the entire backbone of the 2012-13 squad. In hindsight, the rebuild looks easy, as Bayern plucked the star players from their Bundesliga rivals but many great teams have failed to do a proper rebuild and as a result fell off the perch they once held, prime examples Inter Milan, AC Milan, Arsenal and more recently, FC Barcelona.
After Jupp Heynckes, Carlo Ancelotti came the closest to repeat the exceptional feat of winning a treble, but the semi-final against Real Madrid was rather a refereeing disaster class and all the major decisions of the match went against Bayern, the two offside goals, Casemiro red card appeal and the dismissal of Arturo Vidal. Even though Bayern were down to ten men pretty early on, they took the game to extra time, where the goals, which should have been disallowed, sealed their fate.
Croatian Nico Kovac, took the hot seat of Bayern and became the fourth former Bayern player to manage the club. Kovac won the Bundesliga and the DFB pokal in his debut season but the following season wasn’t the same, a poor start and heavy defeats to their title rivals threatened Bayern’s crown, only this time, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge took drastic measures and replaced him with Hansi Flick, which raised a lot of eyebrows.
If we talk about matches made in heaven, Hansi and Bayern were as close as you get to that. He understood the team well and pushed them to the attainable limits. Bayern won everything there was to win in a calendar year, completing a whole cycle since Jupp Heynckes treble-winning side. Eventually, Hansi Flick took Germany's job after Joachim Low and Bayern’s throne was empty again. Only this time, the throne belonged to the hottest managerial property in Europe, Julian Nagelsmann.
Throughout this story, we gathered how Bayern established and maintained dominion over Bundesliga over the years without spending an insane amount of money and bringing in quality players. If there was ever a march of well-run clubs, Bayern would be the flag bearers. A lot of top clubs who tried rebuilding their team, fell through the cracks after spending an exceptional amount of money should take a page from Bayern’s playbook.