Big Bayern also shine in Europe

“Big Bayern” and the “Kings of London” read the headlines in German tabloid BILD-Zeitung. “Arsenal just cannon fodder” wrote “Blick”, Switzerland’s largest newspaper, referring to “The Gunners”, the nickname of severely beaten Arsenal FC. With the 3-1 (2-0) win in the first leg of the knock-out round of the Champions League, FC Bayern Munich also showed their superiority on the European stage after outstanding performances in the Bundesliga. “In impressive form”, wrote the German national newspaper “Sueddeutsche Zeitung” about the performance, and concluded that the evening of February 19 in the British capital was: “Perfect, super, really great. The time of reticence is over. The club can rightly speculate about reaching the Champions League final”.

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The Bayern team victorious at Arsenal: Neuer, Mandzukic, Kroos, van Buyten, Martinez, Dante (above from left), Alaba, Lahm, Ribery, Mueller, Schweinsteiger (below). (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


In the Bundesliga, the German record-winning champions are leaping from success to success. The Bavarians have been at the top of the table for 22 rounds. Their advantage over their nearest rivals, Borussia Dortmund, is 15 points. Naturally, hardly anybody in the club wants to admit it, but it’s almost a certainty that the titles will be hard to keep from this team. The team coached by Jupp Heynckes have not yet conceded a single goal in the five domestic matches played in 2013. Lukas Podolski, the former 1. FC Cologne and Bayern Munich player, became the first opponent to beat Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer this year, in London. At home at always sold-out Allianz Arena, first Fuerth (2-0) and Schalke (4-0) were defeated in the Bundesliga, then away victories at Stuttgart (2-0), Mainz (3-0) and Wolfsburg (2-0) showed no team could match Bayern’s power.

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Philipp Lahm (right) plays the ball before Lukas Podolski can tackle. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


A record set in 1972-73 can be broken in May

In matches such as against Schalke, Heynckes can afford to leave his top scorer Thomas Mueller and top goal scorer Mario Mandzukic on the bench. “We are so strong that we dominate Schalke even in third gear”, said Paul Breitner, the 1974 World Cup champion, after the encounter with the club from Gelsenkirchen. The Bavarians now chase a record they already hold. In the 1972-73 season they became German champions with an advantage of 20 points. It is highly possible that this mark can be broken in May 2013.

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Mario Gomez during FC Bayern’s 4-0 victory over Schalke, with the striker once again in the starting line-up. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


It has also been ascertained that nobody in Dortmund thinks a successful defence of the title is possible. Coach Juergen Klopp, who led Dortmund to the title in 2011 and 2012, openly admits that these Bavarians cannot be removed from top position. Eighteen wins, three draws, a goal tally of 57-7 – that’s the intermediate record of the 22-time national champions prior to the 23rd Bundesliga round. FC Bayern have conceded just one goal in Bundesliga away matches, when Leverkusen managed to defeat the Munich club. The team bristles with self-confidence, and it is Heynckes’ problem that he cannot find a regular first place for such top stars as Arjen Robben. Bayern sometimes play perfect football, with their current style having no connection to past successes, when style was sacrificed to effectiveness. Heynckes wants to produce a masterpiece once again in Munich, before he leaves FC Bayern. In summer Pep Guardiola, FC Barcelona’s coach until mid-2012, will take over.  

It’s of no interest to the Bavarians that the race for the title is no longer a close-run competition this season. But their domination has slashed the thrill factor in the Bundesliga. “The Bavarians are a plague. That’s not a complaint but a tribute. Unfortunately congratulations three months before the end of the season are not good credentials for the entertainment value. The Bundesliga is threatened by the most boring second round in its history”, wrote the distinguished “Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung” after the victory over Schalke.

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Thomas Mueller (seating) has just scored to make it 2-0 for FC Bayern against Arsenal. (Photo: GES/Augenklick)


The win was followed by the not brilliant performance, but never in doubt victory in Wolfsburg and the appearance at Emirates Stadium in London. With the 3-1 over Arsenal, who suffered their second home defeat in the current Champions League season after losing 2-0 to Schalke, FC Bayern announced serious claims on the European throne. “The first half was like a football textbook. You can’t play better”, praised president Uli Hoeness. It seems hardly imaginable that the quarter-finals could be lost in the second leg on March 13 after the balance of power in the first leg. Thanks to this excellent initial position the Bavarians can certainly cope with the yellow card suspension of Bastian Schweinsteiger.