Bayern Munich have wrapped up a ninth straight Bundesliga title, with two games to spare.
Hansi Flick's first full season followed a path riddled with obstacles, twists and turns, yet he mastered it to lift a second straight Bundesliga title. Here, bundesliga.com details which were the pivotal moments en route to glory.
Early-season results tend to get forgotten when a big picture of another successful season emerges, but Matchday 3 could still be considered a pivotal moment in Bayern's season. A 4-1 defeat to Flick's former club Hoffenheim had put a cat among the pigeons on Matchday 2, although two goals either side of half-time from Robert Lewandowski appeared to have the Bavarians bouncing back from that defeat without too much concern.
Jhon Cordoba and Matheus Cunha had other ideas, however, and they levelled matters with 20 minutes to go. Lewandowski completed his hat-trick with five minutes to go, but that was not the final word by a long breath. Jessic Ngankam's bullet-header brought the Old Lady level again and it looked like Bayern were going to lose further ground on the early-season pace-setters Leipzig until, deep into stoppage time, Lewandowski was fouled in the penalty area by Maximilian Mittelstädt. The Pole showed his customary composure to convert from the spot, his fourth goal earning Bayern a morale-boosting victory when a draw may have had an entirely different impact on their campaign's denouement.
Watch: Bayern 4-3 Hertha - highlights
Bayern moved to the top of the table on Matchday 6, thanks to a 2-1 win at Cologne. A week later, they travelled to the team who trailed them only on goal difference, who else but arch-rivals Borussia Dortmund? The winner of the first Klassiker of the season knew they would pull away at the top, and the 103rd meeting of two of German football's heavyweights certainly lived up to all the hype. Marco Reus put the hosts ahead on the stroke of half-time, although there was still time left for David Alaba to level before the whistle.
A Lewandowski header gave Bayern the advantage early in the second half and Leroy Sane established a cushion with ten minutes left. Erling Haaland set up a grandstand finish during which both he and Reus were denied by a sensational Manuel Neuer, who not only held firmly onto three priceless points, but helped Bayern land a significant blow against a pretender for their crown.
Watch: Dortmund 2-3 Bayern - highlights
With Dortmund duly dismissed from early-season pace-setting duties, Bayern came up against their next serious challengers on Matchday 10, when Leipzig descended upon the Allianz Arena for what – unsurprisingly – turned out to be one of the most entertaining matches of the season. Christopher Nkunku gave the guests the lead, sparking Bayern into life with Jamal Musiala levelling on the half-hour mark and, just five minutes later, Thomas Müller put Bayern in front.
Leipzig hit back with Justin Kluivert levelling matters and Emil Forsberg giving them the lead for the second time on the night. Defeat would have seen Bayern relinquish top spot to their guests, but when Müller levelled from the third Kingsley Coman assist of the game, the record champions' berth at the top of the Bundesliga was preserved once again from the latest threat to their superiority. Once again, Flick's men had shown how dig they can deep in when adversity beckons – a sign of true champions.
Watch: Bayern 3-3 Leipzig - highlights
Bayern did relinquish top spot again, dropping to second after a 1-1 draw with Union Berlin on Matchday 11, but they were back on top after a 5-2 win over Mainz on Matchday 14. Fast-forward to Matchday 24 and they were still leading the way, but Leipzig were keeping up with them and, just hours before Bayern took to the field for the second Klassiker of the season, the Bavarians had actually dropped to second due to Leipzig's 3-0 win in Freiburg. The heat was well and truly on.
Erling Haaland turned the heat up further with two goals inside the opening nine minutes putting Dortmund in the driving seat, but anything Haaland can do, Lewandowski can do better, and the Pole grabbed a brace of his own to bring Bayern level before completing his hat-trick in the 89th minute to put a seal on a 4-2 win for Bayern, and effectively put one more than tentative hand on the title. "We showed everyone that we want to stay in first place," Lewandowski told bundesliga.com after taking his personal tally for the season to 31 goals in 24 games – the first player in Bundesliga history to such a haul.
Watch: Bayern 4-2 Dortmund - highlights
To get a firm grip on the title, Bayern knew they still had at least one big fixture on the agenda, and that was on Matchday 27. It was the game which could have reopened the title race, with Leipzig just four points behind the Bavarians and, thus, able to reduce the arrears to a single point with a win. Instead, a Leon Goretzka goal opened up a seven-point advantage for Bayern at the top, and allowed them to put the champagne on ice.
It was Bayern's fifth successive league win which ended Leipzig's eight-game unbeaten streak and earned the record champions the kind of advantage that has never been squandered at such an advanced stage of the season. "This was a big step towards the title," said goalkeeper Manuel Neuer to bundesliga.com after his seventh clean sheet of the season. His contribution in keeping Die Roten Bullen at bay was another key to Bayern's latest title-winning campaign, which was sealed just four games later, on Matchday 31, in Mainz.
Watch: Leipzig 0-1 Bayern - highlights