Great European Sides – Bayern Munich

reuters

Joel Richards 

Bayern Munich were hurting.

After an annus horribilis in 2012 that saw them finish eight points adrift in the Bundesliga to Borussia Dortmund, Jurgen Klopp’s side rubbed their noses in it further with a comprehensive 5-2 win over their great rivals in the DFB Pokal Final.

If that wasn’t enough torture for Die Roten, defeat on penalties to Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Final, in their own stadium, further deepened wounds that would have surely take a long time to recover from.

But the commencement of the 2012-13 campaign brought with it new hope, and an added determination to end Dortmund’s two-year reign as champions domestically as well as go one better in Europe.

Bayern’s summer transfer activity played a key role and the acquisitions of Mario Mandzukic, Javi Martinez and Dante bolstered a line-up that already featured some of the world’s best players in Manuel Neuer, Philip Lahm and Franck Ribery.

An eight-match winning streak got their Bundesliga campaign off to the best possible start and left BVB with a mountain to climb. Defeat to Bayer Leverkusen on matchday nine would prove to be the only reversal suffered by Jupp Heynckes’ side during the whole season, as a 14-game winning streak wrapped up the title with relative ease and ensured a record Bundesliga points total (91) in addition to a 25-point lead over Dortmund.

Revenge would also be sweet in the DFB Pokal as the black-and-yellows were defeated 1-0 in the quarter-finals en-route to a 3-2 win over VfB Stuttgart in the final.

On the continent though, Bayern excelled even further. After topping their group, the Bavarians avoided a close shave in their round of 16 clash with Arsenal defeating the Gunners on away goals (3-3 on aggregate) before Juventus were dispatched 4-0 over two legs in the Quarter-Final. But it was in the last four where their most ruthless performances came against Barcelona. 

A 4-0 hammering on home soil in the first leg was followed by a comprehensive 3-0 win at Camp Nou to seal a remarkable 7-0 aggregate win. One of the standout performers was Arjen Robben, who was a constant torment to Barca’s vulnerable defence. Robben was a regular source of all of Bayern’s attacks from out wide, and his two goals helped seal a landmark win. The so-called “FC Hollywood” had its glamour moment.

The victory also set-up the first all-German Champions League final, and it was their old adversaries from the Rhine region who stood in their way of a fifth European Cup.

Robben would prove to be a central figure again as he assisted Mandzukic on the hour mark for the opening goal of the final, although Dortmund soon levelled thanks to an Ilkay Gundogan penalty.

However, the Dutch winger would have the final say at Wembley and his 89th-minute scuffed effort trickled past Dortmund keeper Roman Weidenfeller to secure victory for Bayern. What were tears of despair 12 months ago were now tears of joy and their legacy as one of Europe’s greatest ever sides was secured.

 

The first German side to complete a historic treble, the 2012-13 season proved to be a fitting farewell for Heynckes. The German who stepped aside for Pep Guardiola to take over the Bayern hot-seat left a tough act to follow.


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