Bayern Munich’s treble-winning season was about more than just three trophies to fill a dusty cabinet which had remained unopened for three years. The way in which they demolished their opponents, both in Germany and abroad, is going to take some bettering, if it can ever be repeated at all.
With 91 points in the Bundesliga, and 29 wins from 34 games, they set record after record, including the fewest goals conceded away from home, the most consecutive wins at the start of a season (eight) and during a single campaign (14), while they only fell two goals short of a century.
They were never beaten on their travels in the Bundesliga and they only conceded 18 goals all season domestically.
So how did Bayern’s record-breaking season come together to create a path to glory?
The record German champions won their first eight Bundesliga games before finally coming unstuck at home to Bayer Leverkusen on October 28. It was not their first defeat of the season, though, as BATE Borisov had shocked them 3-1 in the Champions League in their second group fixture.
After only narrowly beating Valencia in their opening group game, Bayern won at Lille on October 23 courtesy a generous penalty, converted by Thomas Muller. It was one of Bayern’s poorest performances of the season. Their march to Champions League glory then gathered momentum, with a 3-1 victory at Arsenal leaving them with one foot in the quarter-finals. That result also convinced Heynckes to rotate more than half of his team for the subsequent Werder Bremen tie in Bundesliga, a game which underlined the true strength in depth of this Bayern squad.
Arjen Robben, on the fringes till then due to injury, and Mario Gomez, who had lost his berth to Mario Mandzukic, were both given rare outings and both responded.
The Dutchman netted one with Gomez on target twice in a 6-1 victory, with Diego Contento and Xherdan Shaqiri also making rare starts.
Just four days later, Bayern kept their treble hopes alive with a 1-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in a pivotal DFB-Pokal quarter-final tie.
Having been beaten 5-2 by Dortmund in last season’s final, and failed to beat the Westphalians in almost three years, the victory — thanks to Robben’s solitary strike — gave Bayern belief that 2013 could indeed be their year.
It may have given them a little too much self-confidence, however, as they almost came unstuck against Arsenal in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash.
Bayern were just a goal away from Champions League elimination and they rode their luck several times in what proved to be their third and final defeat of the entire season.
“We got away with a black eye,” said Heynckes after his side progressed on away goals.
It was a game they learnt from and there were to be no more such risks in Bayern’s dominant season. They swept Barcelona aside with a 7-0 aggregate victory which suggested an ultimate shift in power in the European game.
The all-Bundesliga Champions League final confirmed this and Bayern’s superiority, as they defeated Dortmund for the second time this season to lay a yardstick as Germany’s and Europe’s all-conquering champions.
Saturday’s 3-2 DFB-Pokal triumph over Stuttgart crowned a campaign of superlatives and earned Bayern an historic, unprecedented treble.
With the German Supercup against Dortmund, the European Supercup against Chelsea and the Club World Cup to come, Bayern could clinch no fewer than six trophies in 2013, rendering them “immortal”, in the words of their president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.
In exalted company
Bayern Munich’s 3-2 win over VfB Stuttgart in the German Cup final means they are the first Bundesliga club to win the treble of European Cup, domestic league and domestic cup titles in the same season.
Here are the other six European clubs to have achieved the feat:
>> 2009/10: Inter Milan (Champions League, Serie A, Coppa Italia)
>> 2008/09: FC Barcelona (Champions League, La Liga, Copa del Rey)
>> 1998/99: Manchester United (Champions League, English Premier League, FA Cup)
>> 1987/88: PSV Eindhoven (European Cup, Eredivisie, KNVB Cup)
>> 1971/72: Ajax Amsterdam (European Cup, Eredivisie, KNVB Cup)
>> 1966/67: Celtic (European Cup, Scottish League Championship, Scottish Cup, Scottish League Cup)
Bayern’s historic treble owed a lot to the arrival of three new faces who took the Bavarians to another level. PA Sport takes a look at these players:
Dante was ever-present in the first 24 Bundesliga games after an injury to Holger Badstuber. Dante brought stability to the defence and emerged as the true leader at the back, earning his first calls to the Brazil national team as a result.
Martinez, a 40-million-euro recruit from Athletic Bilbao, was Bayern’s record signing. The Basque defensive midfielder, together with Bastian Schweinsteiger, relieved the pressure on the Bayern defence and provided a bridge to the attack in their almost inimitable and highly successful flowing football.
Many expected Mandzukic to serve as a back-up rather than fill the void left by Ivica Olic’s departure. However, an injury to Mario Gomez changed that and the Croatian seized his opportunity as Bayern’s No 1 targetman, leaving the Bundesliga’s most prolific overseas goalscorer Claudio Pizarro kicking his heels on the sidelines. He steered in 21 goals in all competitions and continued to keep Gomez out.
Jupp Heynckes finished his two-year stint as Bayern coach by leading the team to a historic treble. And the team certainly made it a night to remember for their outgoing coach with a party that showed no sign of ending: