Bayern Munich have been the undisputed kings of Germany for a while.
In a season ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bavarian giants overcame an unusually slow start (Niko Kovac was a high-profile casualty) before romping to an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title with two games to spare.
Weeks later, the Bavarian giants won their sixth Champions League title to become only the second club in history to win the continental treble on multiple occasions; earlier in the season, Bayern Munich had won their 20th DFB Pokal title.
5 reasons why Bayern Munich's Bundesliga dominance is likely to continue this season
Bayern Munich hold a slew of records in the Bundesliga. Not surprisingly, the competition's record 29-time winners have the most match wins (1119), most wins in a season (29), most points in a season (91) and fewest losses in a season (1).
The Bavarian giants have also scored the most goals overall (4129) in a season (101) and have conceded the fewest goals in a season (17), among several other landmarks in the German top-flight.
Ahead of the start of the 2020-21 Bundesliga season, let us take a look at five reasons why Bayern Munich's domestic dominance is unlikely to end any time soon.
#5 Title-winning pedigree
The duo of Thomas Muller and David Alaba have won a record nine Bundesliga titles. Along with Jerome Boateng, Javi Martinez and Manuel Neuer, Muller and Alaba are the only Bayern Munich players who have been a part of the Bavarian giants' eight consecutive triumphs in the competition.
This is not to say that the duo of Muller and Alaba have only made up the numbers for Bayern Munich during the club's unprecedented period of domestic dominance. Both Muller (245) and Alaba (216) have featured in over 200 Bundesliga games during this period and have been key personnel in Bayern Munich's success in the last eight seasons.
Though Muller's goalscoring prowess has dwindled in recent times - he hasn't scored 10 Bundesliga goals in a season since tallying 20 in 2015-16 - the 30-year-old was the highest assist provider in Europe's top five leagues last season.
The versatile Alaba, who primarily plays as a left-back, partnered Jerome Boateng at the centre of Bayern Munich's defence last season as the pair joined a select group of players to win multiple continental trebles for the Bavarian giants.
Goalkeeper Manuel Neuer has also been a key player in Bayern Munich's domestic success. During the Bavarian giants' eight-season Bundesliga reign, the 34-year-old shotstopper has kept 106 clean sheets.
That tally includes a league-high 15 clean sheets last season as Neuer brilliantly complemented the efforts of his colleagues up front. Bayern Munich scored a league-high 100 goals and conceded a league-low 34 goals.
We are not even talking about the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Thiago Alcantara, Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman, who have also won Bundesliga titles galore with Bayern Munich.
Leon Goretzka, a two-time Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich, summed it up aptly when asked what set the Bavarian giants apart from all other sides in the German top flight:
“What stands out most is the mentality. It’s very unpleasant to play against us, and even harder to beat us. The intensity in our game and our pressing against the ball have worked really well recently."
“Pretty much every team had trouble with that, and it frequently led to us regaining possession in the opposition half. After the restart it was our 'mia-san-mia' mentality that really set us apart. It's something that has defined the club in the past, and we took it to another level. It’s a lot of fun to play in this team. When you look at the players’ faces before kick-off you know they mean business.”
In an ominous warning to the rest of the teams, Goretzka concluded:
"But we won’t rest on our laurels. We’ll try to make our game even more varied and keep developing.”
Simply put, Bayern Munich have too many players in their ranks who have won more Bundesliga titles than most teams in the competition and know how to get things done at the business end of the season.
With such title-winning pedigree, the Bavarian giants will undoubtedly be the team to beat in the 2020-21 Bundesliga.
#2 Tactical nous of Hansi Flick
In a less than overwhelming start to the season, Bayern Munich stumbled to a 1-5 reverse at Eintracht Frankfurt to suffer their worst Bundesliga defeat in over a decade, and plummeted to fourth in the league table after ten games.
It was their second defeat of the fledgling season, (Bayern had lost 1-2 at home to Hoffenheim), but it was the manner of the capitulation at Frankfurt that jolted the Bayern hierarchy into action. Out went Niko Kovac and in came former player Hansi Flick, albeit on a temporary basis.
Following his appointment, Flick identified the problem areas and set about rectifying the same:
“We’ll make the odd change. The goals we’ve been conceding were not Bayern-like. For me, it’s important the team are proactive. We need to defend from the front and try to win the ball back as quickly as possible. They’re the points we want to address.”
After a 2-0 Champions League win over Olympiacos, Flick's men came out all guns blazing in their first big game of the season, beating title challengers Borussia Dortmund 4-0 in the Der Klassiker.
However, back-to-back defeats against Bayer Leverkusen and Borussia Monchengladbach seemed to stall Flick's promising start to his Bayern Munich career as the record Bundesliga champions slipped to seventh in the league table.
The losses offered food for thought as Bayern Munich fell seven points adrift of the league leaders. But Flick knew there were no reasons for panic, and he agreed with Joshua Kimmich that Bayern had played well in both games.
“It’s important, on the one hand, that we’re playing good football,” the 55-year-old said.
As it turned out, Bayern Munich would not lose again all season. Six victories on the trot took the Bavarian giants to the top of the table, which was a position they wouldn't relinquish for the rest of the campaign.
By then, Flick had displayed enough managerial prowess to earn plaudits from Bayern Munich's only treble-winning manager at the time, Jupp Heynckes.
“Within a short time, he has made the team look completely different – playing attractive and team football. He makes all of his players feel important… even superstars need a bit of love, and a coach needs high levels of empathy for that kind of thing – which Flick has in abundance.”
With the right blend of youth and experience, Hansi Flick transformed the fortunes of a stuttering Bayern Munich as the Bavarian giants romped across the finish line in some style.
Thomas Muller was a player reborn under Flick, while Alaba made an impressive transition to centre-back. Youngsters Joshua Zirkzee and Alphonso Davies announced their arrival on the big stage and Robert Lewandowski continued to plunder goals.
Flick's men, who have won 25 of their 26 games in all competitions since the start of the year (a tally that includes 16 wins in the Bundesliga), would need some stopping.
#3 The Robert Lewandowski factor
Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best striker in world football at the moment.
The Polish marksman made a blistering start to his Bundesliga campaign last season, and became the first player to score in each of the first 12 games of the season. In fact, such was Lewandowski's scoring pace at the mid-season mark that it looked plausible that he could smash Gerd Muller's long-standing record of 40 goals in a Bundesliga season.
Although that was not to be as a long season had its expected toll, the prolific striker became the all-time non-German goal-scorer in the Bundesliga.
This tally included 34 goals in the German top-flight in the season - a record haul by a non-German player. In the process, Lewandowski collected his fifth Torjägerkanone.
Lewandowski never gets tired of scoring, and when he does find the back of the net, Bayern Munich invariably win matches and championships. Bundesliga defences have been suitably warned.
#4 Dominating record over principal title rivals
Like in most other seasons, Borrusia Dortmund could pose the biggest challenge to Bayern Munich's hopes of winning a ninth consecutive Meisterschale. Other teams who would look to upset the apple-cart of the record Bundesliga champions are Leipzig, Borussia Monchengladbach, Bayer Leverkusen and Hoffenheim.
Not surprisingly, though, Bayern Munich have an overwhelmingly positive head-to-head record against each of the quintet.
The Bavarian giants completed the double over their Klassiker rivals last season, winning 4-0 at home and 1-0 away, and have lost only thrice in 16 games during their 8-season Bundesliga winning run. Leipzig, who finished third last season, have only one win in eight Bundesliga games against the Bavarian giants.
Monchengladbach and Leverkusen, who were two of four teams to beat Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season, have beaten the record winners four times during the last eight seasons but have lost eight and nine times respectively.
Hoffenheim and Frankfurt, the two other teams to take all three points of Bayern Munich last season, are respectively 3-11 and 1-12 against Bayern Munich since 2012-13.
Considering Bayern Munich's dominating record against their principal title rivals and the manner of their recent wins against them, the Bavarian giants would probably need a meltdown of epic proportions to be denied another Bundesliga title this season.
#5 Arrival of Leroy Sane at Bayern Munich
Bayern Munich have acquired the services of the 24-year-old Leroy Sane, who returns to his country of birth after a successful four-season stint at Premier League giants Manchester City.
Explaining the decision to sign Sane, former player and present Bayern Munich board member Oliver Kahn said:
“We’re all delighted we’ve been able to secure Leroy’s signature for FC Bayern Munich. His qualities as a player are undisputed. His speed, his technical quality and his scoring threat make him an absolute top player. He also fits very well into our team as a person and as a character. Our goal is to have a spine on the pitch from the goalkeeper to the forwards, and Leroy is an important component in this. With this signing, we have taken another big step towards remaining at the forefront in Europe.”
Sane, who scored 39 goals during his four years at City and won two Premier League titles, is undoubtedly a fabulous addition to a Bayern Munich squad brimming with quality in every position.
The youngster missed large swathes of last season due to an injury and would be eager to hit the ground running as he is expected to make his Bundesliga debut in Bayern Munich's first game of the new season.
Sane, who could line up on the left side of Flick's three-man midfield, with Serge Gnabry occupying the other side of the pitch, would lend a cutting edge to the Bayern Munich attack and take the pressure off target man Robert Lewandowski.
In other words, Sane's arrival in Bavaria does not augur well for the hopes of Bayern Munich's Bundesliga rivals.