By Keshav Vivek
A Golden Run
Europe has become FC Bayern Munich’s stomping ground. The Bavarian club have looked unstoppable since their victory over Eintracht Frankfurt on 6th April, 2013. The 1-0 score line gave them their 22nd Bundesliga title. This made the side the quickest to capture the championship, with a total of 6 games left. The 2012-13 season saw records tumble one after the other. Die Roten (The Reds), as they are fondly known, became the first club side ever to notch up consecutive wins in the first eight games of the Bundesliga. They stacked up the most points (91), the biggest margin for winning points (25), the maximum number of victories (29), the least number of goals conceded (18), and the fewest matches lost (1), ever for a German side.
On 25th May, 2013, Munich made it to the 2012-13 UEFA Champions League final in Wembley, England. The Reds would dismantle bitter rivals Borussia Dortmund, dominating possession and firing in goals on either side of a successful penalty conversion by the latter. With their earlier win over VfB Stuttgart in the 2012-13 DFB-Pokal final, Bayern Munich had managed another first for any German football club- a continental treble (national league, national cup and continental championship). The 4-2 loss to Dortmund in the 2013 DFL Supercup at Signal Iduna Park on the 27th of July, 2013 soured Bavarian moods. But Die Roten haven’t shown any signs of going easy on the competition.
They were at collective best against Manchester City. Etihad Stadium saw the home team torn apart by Pep Guardiola’s side. Franck Ribery, Thomas Mueller, and Arjen Robben scored for the German club with Alvaro Negredo fetching the lone goal for Manchester. The Germans were relentless in their attacks and dominated possession (66%). Guardiola was facing an old foe, City’s Manuel Pellegrini. They had crossed swords in the 2009-10 La Liga season. Pep was then in charge of Barcelona; locked in a neck-and-neck race with Real Madrid, managed by Manuel. The Galacticos scored a record 96 points, only to be outdone by the Catalonians who earned 3 more to top the Spanish championship. Bayern Munich are now firmly in charge of the UEFA Champions League Group D, with 6 points and a goal difference of +5 from two matches. City comes a distant second with just 3 points from as many games.
They have also managed to unseat rivals Borussia Dortmund from top of the Bundesliga table after a 1-1 draw with Bayer Leverkusen. The tie stretches Die Roten’s run of undefeated games to an impressive 33, within reach of Hamburg’s record of 36 games (set in 1983). The shift in rankings took place after Dortmund lost 2-0 to Borussia Monchengladbach. Football pundits had been favouring them after their 3-0 victory over French side Marseille in the UEFA Champions League draw.
They did dominate the game before losing it all in the final 10 minutes. It was Mats Hummels who triggered the collapse. His reckless tackle on Monchengladbach midfielder, Havard Nordtveit earned him a red card. The resultant penalty was driven home by Max Kruse. The home side would seal victory with another goal in the dying minutes by Brazilian Raffael. The sense of disappointment was evident. “That was an unusual game; we had our opponents under brutal pressure for long periods of play, but didn’t score. We played our part in the defeat; left the game too open and allowed ‘Gladbach to come to life when they took their chances.” said Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp.
Die Roten on the other hand are sitting pretty. Their confidence could be judged by what Dutchman Robben had to say after the thrashing handed out to City, “We were so dominant against a big team in Europe. We didn’t expect an easy game like that. The first 70 minutes we played some terrific football. We didn’t give them any space, we pressed them right up to the goalkeeper and they just kicked it away. Sometimes they gave us too much space and we use space well. When things go your way like that, it’s a lot of fun out on the pitch, especially against a quality team like City.”
Bayern Munich’s Performance (up to 6th October, 2013):
Bundesliga: 8 6 2 0 15 3 12 20 (M W D L GF GA GD Pts)
UEFA Champions League Group D: 2 2 0 0 6 1 5 6 (M W D L GF GA GD Pts)