It was poetic justice that Robert Lewandowski scored his 31st league goal of this season to help Bayern Munich secure a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen on Tuesday night, with the Bavarians lifting the Bundesliga title a record eighth time in a row.
Bayern was already seven points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, and their latest win enabled them to open up an unassailable ten-point lead, with just three matches remaining for BVB in this season.
The Bavarians have won the league every year now since the 2011-12 season, and with their latest win, the club recorded their 30th Bundesliga title in their illustrious history.
Hansi Flick’s men are on course to win a treble this season, having already secured the league title. They will play Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final, having already defeated Chelsea 3-0 in the first leg of their Champions League Round of 16 tie.
When the continental cup competition gets underway, Bayern will be the team to beat, given they are in scintillating form, having stormed past every team since the league resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break.
However, their latest Bundesliga triumph hasn’t come easy at all, with the German giants enduring a tough start to the league this term.
With that said, let’s take a look at Bayern Munich’s journey in the league this season – from a wobbly start to becoming the champions of Germany for a record eighth time in a row.
Bayern Munich’s uncharacteristic slow start:
Die Roten began their league title defence at home, with a 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin. They defeated Schalke on gameweek 2, followed by a 6-1 thrashing of Mainz which saw them rise to second on the table.
The first real speed breaker in their league campaign came away to RB Leipzig when they drew 1-1. That result was followed by a routine win against FC Köln on gameweek 5. However, since then, cracks began to appear within the Bayern juggernaut.
After a narrow win against SC Paderborn, they fell prey to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Hoffenheim.
In the following weeks, pressure began to mount on the then-head coach, Niko Kovac as the team played out a stalemate against Augsburg, followed by a narrow win over minnows Union Berlin.
More than the results, the Bavarians’ style of play was attracting heavy criticism, as they struggled to break down opposition defences. Midfielders looked dire and out of sorts, as Robert Lewandowski was starved of service on many occasions.
To add to Kovac’s woes, he had already lost Niklas Sule to a long term injury by this point, and the club were enduring a defensive crisis of sorts.
Kovac’s firing and a new lease of life under Hansi Flick:
On gameweek 10, Bayern Munich suffered a humiliating 5-1 defeat, away to Eintracht Frankfurt, which proved to be the final nail in the coffin. Niko Kovac decided to step down, as the result left Bayern fourth in the Bundesliga table.
It was as if all hell broke loose. The Bavarians were due to play Borussia Dortmund at home on gameweek 11, and it was appearing as if their title defence was in tatters.
Up stepped assistant head-coach Hansi Dieter Flick, who took over as caretaker manager and masterminded an astonishing 4-0 rout of BVB. That win was no fluke, as Bayern won big against Dusseldorf too, but suffered a narrow 1-2 loss at home against Bayer Leverkusen.
The Reds then travelled to Borussia Park to face Borussia Monchengladbach in early December and fell prey to yet another defeat on the road. By this point, reports started to link Thomas Tuchel to the Allianz Arena dugout, although Paris Saint-Germain eventually proved to be a hard nut to crack.
Meanwhile, Hansi Flick quietly masterminded six consecutive victories in the Bundesliga, including big wins against Schalke, Werder Bremen and Hertha Berlin. Subsequently, the Bayern hierarchy announced that the German tactician would continue as head coach until the end of the season.
The ‘Flick’ factor
On the 1st of February, Bayer Munich regained the top spot for the first time since gameweek 6, courtesy of a 3-1 win against Mainz, and from then on, there was no stopping the Bavarians.
After a minor hiccup against RB Leipzig at home, a 0-0 draw, Die Roten embarked on a six-game winning streak across all competitions, including a brilliant 3-0 away win against Chelsea in the Champions League.
Hansi Flick led his side to a 2-0 win at home against Augsburg before the coronavirus pandemic forced all sporting competitions to halt.
After a long break of two months, Bundesliga became the first of the top five European leagues to resume, as Bayern picked up from where they left, with routine 2-0 win over Union Berlin.
In the following weeks, Flick guided his team past fellow title contenders Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen, and most recently, Borussia Monchengladbach, embarking on an 11-match winning streak in the league, the latest of which came against Bremen, marking their successful title defence.
What about the road ahead?
With two more games remaining in the Bundesliga, Bayern Munich will want to win both and end the season with momentum in their stead. They will then meet Bayer Leverkusen in the German Cup final on the 4th of July.
Moreover, as per reports, UEFA are planning to resume the Champions League in the month of August, for which Hansi Flick’s men will be heavy favourites.
It’s a stunning achievement for the 55-year-old coach, who was never in charge of a top-flight team before, and whose biggest success before Tuesday was winning the German fourth division with Hoffenheim. But despite his humble beginnings, Flick has made Bayern a team to be reckoned with.
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