Bayern Munich: The German giant rising from its slumber
On Wednesday evening, a team who have been all-but-invincible since August, won arguably their biggest game of the season.
Despite being 17 points clear in the Bundesliga, qualifying from their Champions League group at a canter and already with one foot in the quarter-finals, it was a German Cup match against Borussia Dortmund that ended any doubt that Bayern Munich are, once again, back to their best.
The 1-0 win, courtesy of a first-half strike by Arjen Robben, finally ended Bayern’s three-year wait for a victory against the side who, in recent times, have replaced them as the top team in German football.
While Dortmund ended last season with a second successive league title, Bayern suffered a hat-trick of near-misses, finishing runners-up in the league, losing to Chelsea in Europe and being humiliated 5-2 by Dortmund in the German Cup final.
So to heal old wounds, it was the perfect competition to finally seal the win that ends an unwanted statistic and sees them one step closer to a potential double of their own.
Much has been said about Pep Guardiola’s imminent arrival at the Allianz Arena. Hyperbole has it that he will single-handedly transform the Bundesliga into football’s hottest destination, and his new team into Barcelona Mark II. But the truth is Bayern do not require transformation.
Under current manager Jupp Heynckes, they are on course for their most successful season in years. And there should be no doubt that the frustration of ending last year trophyless, particularly in the Champions League, makes them a very dangerous proposition.
In fact, events at Camp Nou pending, the Germans could go into the quarter-finals clear of two of Barcelona, Real Madrid and Manchester United.
Come next season, Guardiola could be asked to continue, rather than reintroduce, success; because there is a very real chance that his new team could be the first German side to win the perfect treble, ending their three-year wait for a trophy in some style.
Having finally ended the hoodoo of Dortmund’s domestic and personal dominance, their fans may just see the club’s outstanding success of the mid-70s as a benchmark if not to be matched then certainly attempted.