Eliot K. Raman Jones | Sports Editor
Bayern Munich were crowned Bundesliga champions this week, after a 1-0 win against Werder Bremen meant that perennial also-rans Borussia Dortmund could not catch up with the Bavarian side.
Bayern have been in scintillating form since Hans-Dieter “Hansi” Flick took over from Niko Kovac in November 2019, and the victory against Werder came off the back of 10 more consecutive wins. Flick, who played over 100 games for Bayern Munich in his career before hanging up his boots, will now have his sights firmly set on completing a historic treble with his former club, who take on Bayer Leverkusen in the DFB-Pokal final on the 4th of July and are among the favourites to win the Champions League when it resumes this summer.
Despite achieving their eighth successive title and twenty-ninth overall, Bayern were by no means merely “going through the motions,” this season. Niko Kovac’s sacking 10 games into the season came after Bayern were infamously humbled 5-1 in a shock loss to Eintracht Frankfurt, but it was not just the one shock result that forced Bayern into making a change. In Kovac’s penultimate game, the Bavarians lost 2-1 to Hoffenheim in another shock, and had conceded a 90th minute equalizer against Augsburg in October. By the time Hansi Flick was brought in to replace the Croat, Bayern were adrift, four points behind surprise leaders Borussia Mönchengladbach. Despite their winning pedigree, Bayern had to contend with Der Klassiker rivals Borussia Dortmund, an RB Leipzig side bursting with future world stars, as well as high-fliers Gladbach and a Kai Havertz-inspired Bayer Leverkusen on their tricky route to the Bundesliga title. Flick’s close connection with the team and inspired tactics and leadership prompted an immediate snap back to kind of football Die Roten were used to, and they made an immediate return to winning ways.
Flick’s players have more than pulled their weight in this title-winning campaign too. Bayern’s talismanic striker Robert Lewandowski has been in phenomenal form this season, netting his 31st Bundesliga goal of the season against Werder Bremen to win the trophy. The Pole leads the Bundesliga goal-scoring charts, and is six ahead of RB Leipzig striker Timo Werner with two games to go. Bayern’s one-club icon Thomas Müller earlier this season broke the Bundesliga record for most assists in one season, and thanks to Flick’s explosive brand of attacking football, coupled with his world-class team, Bayern have scored a stunning 93 goals this season, eleven clear of Borussia Dortmund.
While it may seem that having won eight titles in a row is a clear sign of total domestic dominance, it must be noted that the gulf in class between the sides that traditionally make up the Bundesliga’s top six has narrowed substantially. This wasn’t the 2013/14 season, with a nineteen-point gap between Bayern and second place, or the 2017/18 season, where Bayern finished 21 points higher than their nearest competitors. This is what makes Flick and Bayern’s achievement even more important – Bayern were not simply outclassing their opponents at every turn and winning the league unopposed, but they had to really battle against their rivals, who were all desperate to see the Bavarian champions finally knocked off of their normally lofty perch. Bayern have earnt this title, and bearing in mind the competition, the shock losses, the midseason managerial change and the disruption caused by the pandemic, it looks like it will be an achievement that will live long in the memory.