In a season interrupted by a deadly and worrying pandemic, Bayern Munich dropped points once in a period of more than nine months.
However you feel about the polarizing German giants, there is no denying that Bayern Munich finished one of the most impressive seasons in European history on Sunday.
Joshua Kimmich found Kingsley Coman for the only goal of Sunday’s UEFA Champions League Final in Lisbon and Manuel Neuer made a number of fine saves to give Bayern its sixth European Cup.
The Bavarians didn’t post gaudy season numbers due to a terrible start, but its finish was relentless, imperious, and powerful.
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Hansi Flick’s crew went unbeaten over their final 30 matches of the season, completing a Champions League campaign with a first-in-history 11 wins and zero losses.
That’s only fractionally less impressive given the one-legged nature of this month’s knockout rounds, especially considering the team had to keep its focus during a worldwide pandemic (as did all other teams).
Bayern had lost four league matches by Dec. 7, having won two and lost two under new boss Hansi Flick. They did not lose again.
Let’s give that sentence a repeat audience and its own line.
They did not lose again.
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Flick has an incredible record, an assistant on a World Cup-winning German side, but he was running a first team for the first time in almost 15 years. The previous one, Hoffenheim, was in Germany’s third tier when he left them in 2005. Before that, it Victoria Bammental in the Oberliga as a player-coach.
So yes, this is special maintenance of a monstrous group of talent and egos, and in nearly flawless fashion.
Bayern won 19 of their remaining 20 Bundesliga matches, a scoreless draw with RB Leipzig on Feb. 9 the only blemish. They allowed 12 goals in that run, keeping 11 clean sheets and blanking Borussia Dortmund in addition to Leipzig.
Throw in the German Cup and they scored three or more goals on 14 occasions against domestic competition.
The Champions League was another animal, perhaps a more impressive one. Did they draw a straight-forward group? Yes, but they annihilated pretty much everyone in their path, applying special heat to the only perceived challenger with a 10-3 combined score line against Tottenham Hotspur.
Bayern won four times in 16 days against top competition, annihilating Chelsea, Barcelona, and PSG. The 3-0 win over Lyon, perhaps the least impressive on paper, came over a team that had ousted Manchester City and Juventus from the competition.
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Consider the singular notes worth of leading acclaim for either Flick or his talents:
- Center back problems led to Bayern utilizing all-world left back David Alaba at center back and teenage Canadian winger Alphonso Davies at left back.
- Robert Lewandowski scored 55 times in all competitions.
- Thomas Muller set the Bundesliga record for assists in a single season.
- Serge Gnabry was one of only nine players in Europe’s top five leagues to claim double-digit goals and assists.
- Joshua Kimmich might’ve not made a mistake the entire season.
Okay, the last line is a clear exaggeration for a player who could rival Lewandowski for the Ballon d’Or if they were: A) even doing that this year and B) didn’t almost exclusively consider attackers for the honor.
Listen, there’s not a lot to love on the whole about a giant doing giant things. We get that. Of the last 10 European Cup winners, guess how many are in the top eight in terms of European wage bills? All of them.
As of 2018, Bayern was fifth behind only Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG, and Manchester United. Their club has purchased claimed its stars from PSG, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke (x2), RB Leipzig, Barcelona, Werder Bremen, and Hoffenheim. A few hundred million euros of purchases were hurt or surplus to requirements.
And Leroy Sane is coming.
But the nature of their performances once their trophy hunt kicked into high gear was utterly complete, and the Bavarians took home three in the German Cup, Bundesliga, and UEFA Champions League.
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To claim an eighth-straight league title and do it by 13 points despite sitting five points back after 14 weeks is impressive.
To go 30 matches without losing is more impressive.
To win every Champions League match on the docket is almost insane.
You don’t have to be a Bayern supporter — this writer certainly isn’t — to wonder where this season should stand in the history of the best ones on record.