Bayern achieve minor target

Bayern Munich was the Bundesliga’s best team in the second half of the season but the “title” is of less importance than the so-called “Autumn Championship” for the matches up until the winter break. But it still did them some good. After winning the double in 2010, Bayern Munich ended the 2010/2011 season empty-handed. Long out of both the cup and the title race, there was a sense of relief in the air on May 14 after their 2-1 win against their south German rivals VfB Stuttgart as they had at least achieved their minor target for the season. The hoped for runners-up spot didn’t materialise. Bayer Leverkusen withstood the pressure to win 1-0 in Freiburg and finish three points ahead of Munich in second behind Borussia Dortmund, who superseded Bayern as champions. The Rhineland club qualified automatically for the Champions League whilst third-placed Bayern face two potentially tough qualifying games.

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Bayern Münch’s team says “goodbye” to the home crowd in the Allianz Arena after the 2-1 win against Stuttgart. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)


“We finished on a high note. We wanted to do the impossible but didn’t,” said Mario Gomez after the last of the Bundesliga season’s 34 matches was over. The 25-year-old proudly held the trophy awarded by the “kicker” football magazine for the season’s top goal-scorer aloft. Gomez had just scored his 28th goal against his former club Stuttgart – a great performance for the goal-getter with Spanish roots. He relegated Freiburg’s Papiss Cisse (22 goals) to second in the goal scoring list. After a poor start to the season which lasted until October, Gomez only required 26 games for his goal rush which he continued in the Champions League. The striker, for whom Bayern had paid 30 million euro in summer 2009, scored eight goals in the competition.

Super Mario Gomez: 39 goals for the goal-getter

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39 goals in 45 matches was “Super Mario’s” tally and it included five hat-tricks in the Bundesliga. That Bayern (36 points) were the top ream in the second half of the season ahead of Leverkusen (35) was down to the return of the injured stars Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery, and Gomes’goal-scoring exploits. No other striker is as versatile as the German-born player who has a Spanish father. Mario scores with his right foot, his left and his head. “I’ve fulfilled a childhood dream,” he said after the season in which he topped the goal scoring list for the first time. “I’ve finally made my mark at Bayern.” The German international had struggled to find his feet at the club for more than a year but he then came good when teammate Miroslav Klose was injured in October.

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Mario Gomez holding the trophy awarded by the “kicker” magazine for the Bundesliga’s top marksman. The Bayern striker scored 28 goals. (Photo: Firo/Augenklick)

“We want to do better next year, we are setting our sights high,” said Gomes when looking into the future. The whole Bayern set-up made it clear that the third-place finish was a one-off. “The best idea is to forget the season relatively quickly. We shouldn’t see everything negatively but we should raise the bar somewhat higher again for the new season,” explained President Uli Hoeness. “I’m satisfied but no more,” said coach Andries Jonker, who had guided the team to four wins and a draw in his five games in charge. The 34th match of the season also marked the end of the Dutchman’s tenure as the record champion’s head coach. Jupp Heynckes, the Leverkusen coach, is back in Munich for the third time after 1987 and 2009.”I’m convinced Bayern will get through qualifying. They’ve already got a very good team. And it’ll be even better with the players we’ll be signing,” said Heynckes in Freiburg, when his Leverkusen side snatched the runner-up spot from under the noses of his future club. Hoeness hinted that goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be signing as expected for a transfer fee of more than 20 million euro from Schalke. Nobody is expecting the transfer not to go through after the end of the spectacular season.  

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Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes (left) and Bayern President Uli Hoeness: the two friends will be soon united again. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


Bayern has the Bundesliga’s top forwards

Bayern never headed the table and at no stage were they second. Third place was the best they could manage. The biggest gap to the top of the team was 16 points and in the end it was down to ten. In the cup, the team were eliminated in the semifinals after losing 1-0 at home to Schalke and they exited the Champions League in the last 16 against Inter Milan. Just like the cup disaster against Schalke and the two Bundesliga defeats against Dortmund, it hurt when Schalke, who finished the league season back in 14th, downed Inter Milan in the quarterfinals of Europe’s most prestigious club competition.

Bayern never enjoyed any real consistency. The team only appeared solid at the end of the season. On the road, the side was unusually poor and only won six of their seventeen matches (six draws and five defeats) and amassed just 24 points whilst Leverkusen and Dortmund won 36 and 35 respectively in their away games. Van Gaal, who was long considered to be the ideal coach for the Munich set-up, was relieved of his post before his contract was up – like Jürgen Klinsmann two years ago. Jonker, who was formerly Louis van Gaal’s assistant, afterwards made the best of the difficult situation. Next season he will be in charge of Bayern’s second team which was relegated from the third division after finishing last.

Generally speaking, the second half of the season went much better but the team only found consistency when it did not have the burden of playing in several competitions. Up front, Bayern often produced some spectacular football and their 81 goals made them the league’s best attacking outfit. But the defence was often the weak link. The releasing of three highly experienced defenders under van Gaal – first Lucio and then Mark van Bommel and Martin Demichelis last winter – proved to have an adverse effect on the side. Bayern are still searching for a top right-sided defender. In defensive midfield, the Chilean Arturo Vidal, who had an outstanding season for Leverkusen, is a potential new signing. A 6-0 win against Hamburg in their 26th match of the season sparked the start of an undefeated run and they will be doing everything in their power to extend it on 6 August.