Bayern Munich : A season of Great Expectations for FCB?
After achieving the treble last season under coach Jupp Heynckes, the bar has been raised fairly high for his successor Pep Guardiola – who guided Barcelona to an astounding 14 trophies in his 4 years in charge at the Camp Nou. Of course, there isn’t much that the Catalan can add to Bayern Munich’s already vast trophy cabinet but his side has been tipped to dominate European football for the coming years after all.
The Bavarians ran riot in the Bundesliga last season finishing 25 points clear of anyone else and had a miraculous goal difference of +80 as they proved that the best form of attack truly is a good defence, scoring 98 goals and conceding a mere 18. Jerome Boateng formed a solid defensive partnership with Brazilian, Dante and full-backs Philip Lahm and David Alaba contributed greatly both in defence and attack.
Bayern also steam-rolled their way to the Champions League trophy and demolished the might of Barcelona 7-0 en route to the Wembley showcase where they beat fellow Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund in the first ever all-German final.
They completed the treble when they defeated VfB Stuttgart in the DFB Pokal Final in Berlin only a week after the Champions League triumph, becoming the first German club to complete a European treble and only the seventh club in history to achieve this feat.
This summer, Bayern Munich have made three additions to their squad. They come in the form of Mario Götze, Thiago Alcantara and centre-half Jan Kirchoff. The signings of Götze and Alcantara will add competition to an already jaw-dropping midfield. They also show the willingness of Guardiola to work around a strong midfield as well as his vision to develop Bayern’s 4-2-3-1 formation and their tiki-taka style of play. More specifically, the signature of Thiago Alcantara will probably encourage Javi Martinez into a central defensive role, whereas the addition of Kirchoff is most likely to add depth to a defence which has looked unbeatable at times.
In a squad as impressive as Bayern Munich’s it is difficult to pick out just a few key players. However Bastian Schweinsteiger would have to be included as he is the heart of the midfield at the Allianz Arena. Used in a defensive midfield role in recent times, the Munich stalwart does also contribute to attacking play and even scored a few goals in the last campaign. He was also voted Bundesliga player of the year for last season.
It’s also difficult to look past captain Philipp Lahm, who has the ability to pace up and down the right wing which applies pressure on opposing defenders. He is also a very consistent defender and rarely slips up. Even Paul Breitner, who was part of the Bayern team which dominated German football in the early 1970’s has compared Lahm’s playing style to that of his own.
Thomas Müller proved to be one of the most valuable assets to Jupp Heynckes side last season. Usually deployed as a winger, Müller at times showed the scoring abilities and instincts of a world class striker as he netted 23 times in all competitions.
Franck Ribéry is another pivotal member of the current Bayern side. The Frenchman made 43 appearances for Bayern Munich and finished a close second behind Schweinsteiger in the voting for player of the year. He may face stiff competition next season from Mario Götze however.
Bayern will probably once again be too strong for the rest of the Bundesliga as they look to claim title number 24. Their biggest challengers will probably be Jurgen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side, though Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke 04 are also looking like very strong sides this season.
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