As if it wasn’t enough that Bayern Munich won the treble last season, with an eighth successive Bundesliga title under their belts, as well as a record 20th DFB-Pokal trophy and of course, the Champions League, the Bavarians have started this campaign brightly, too.
Top of their respective Champions League group, Bayern are already among the favourites on every betting exchange to win the tournament for a second season running. Looking to replicate the achievements of last season, where Hans-Dieter Flick’s side had a 100% record in the group stages, before going on to win the tournament in its changed final destination of Lisbon, behind closed doors. They haven’t just won, but have been dominant in their charge for supremacy in Europe’s premier cup competition – highlighted by a 4-0 win over Atlético Madrid on matchday one, and more recently a 6-2 demolition of RB Salzburg on matchday three.
But, it’s in the Bundesliga where their class really shows. Last season, Flick instrumented a remarkable run of 20 matches without defeat, which saw the Bavarian side go from seventh in the table to top spot. This included 13 successive victories at the back end of the extended campaign, and they wrapped up the title away to Werder Bremen, with two games to spare.
This season, already they top the table – having won six out of seven of their opening matches. The minor blip, a 4-1 loss away at Hoffenheim, back in late September is just that – and Bayern’s most recent victory came at the hands of their most bitter rivals in Der Klassiker, Borussia Dortmund. The teams had started the day level on points at the top of the Bundesliga, but the win pushes Bayern three points clear of their opponents, and two points ahead of nearest challengers, RB Leipzig.
A five-goal thriller at the Signal Iduna Park in Dortmund, saw Flick’s side go behind towards the end of the first half, but pull it back before the interval and then set up a two-goal advantage. Dortmund reduced the deficit and while Robert Lewandowski thought he had secured a two-goal cushion at the death, VAR ruled out his attempt. But it was enough, a 3-2 victory gave Bayern three important points and bragging rights over their rivals. While fans still can’t be in attendance, Die Roten’s faithful were undoubtedly delighted (and perhaps relieved).
Of course, all clubs want to win as many matches as possible, but there’s always added spice and impetus against your most bitter rivals. And in recent seasons, Der Klassiker really hasn’t disappointed. For neutrals, watching two teams of top-class talent, both promoting attacking free-flowing football is mesmerising. But add in the nets-full of goals that are scored, and it really gets exciting. For fans of Bayern, these derby games are where they’ve really excelled and over the last two campaigns, they have done the double over their opponents – and are halfway to replicating that feat this season too.
Derby matches are often fiercely-contested, and tight affairs, often nervy and edgy, with both sides looking to get one up over their opponents. However, Der Klassiker is a different story. And Bayern seem to really flourish in front of a home crowd at the Allianz Arena. Just last season, Lewandowski, who went on to be the division’s top scorer, bagged a brace as Bayern ran out 4-0 winners. The previous campaign saw a five-star performance and five goals scored as the Bavarians ran out rampant victors, 5-0. And the year before that, Dortmund were stunned into silence, as Bayern won 6-0 with their talisman striker netting a hat-trick.
Dortmund front-man, Erling Braut Haaland summed it up pretty well in his post-match interview after their narrow defeat, when he said that Bayern are “the best team in the world”. There’s absolutely no doubt that their superiority is there for all to see, but in these crunch games, their class really is a cut above the rest.