Anyone who doubted the ability of this Bayern Munich team to go all the way in the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League was well and truly silenced as the German champions dismantled Barcelona with an 8-2 thrashing in the quarter-finals. Next up for Robert Lewandowski and Co. is Lyon in the semi-finals on Wednesday. bundesliga.com presents five reasons why the Bavarians will run rings around Olympique.
1) The world’s form team
Bayern are quite simply on a scintillating run of results: 24 competitive matches in 2020 and not a single defeat. In total, that unbeaten streak stretches to 28 fixtures going back to the 3-1 win over Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur in their final Champions League Group B game last December.
That hasn’t been any old run, with a few scrappy draws boosting the numbers: of those 28 games, Bayern have won 27, scoring 94 goals (at a rate of 3.4 per game), conceding just 22 (0.8 per game) and keeping 12 clean sheets. The other result was a 0-0 draw with fellow semi-finalists RB Leipzig - the only team to stop Bayern scoring this year.
In fact, since that game on 9 February, the Munich side have won ALL 19 matches across the league, cup and in Europe - a record run for a German club in professional football. In that time, they’ve netted 64 goals (3.4 per game) and conceded just 15 (0.8 per game).
Watch: All 100 of Bayern’s Bundesliga goals in 2019/20
How does this run compare with teams around the world? Well, it's peerless. No side in any top division on the planet currently comes close to that 19-game winning run. While over the course of the last 20 matches, no club has won as many times (19) or scored as many goals (69) as Hansi Flick’s Bayern.
By contrast, Lyon – whose French league season was curtailed in March – have played just 20 games in 2020 with a record that reads: W12 D2 L6.
In the Champions League, the Bavarians have set a new record under the current format (since 2003/04) as the first team to win their first nine games of the campaign. Their 39 goals also represents a new club best, coming at a rate of 4.3 per game. Only three teams have ever netted more in an entire Champions League campaign, but they all played at least 13 games. The record stands at 45 by Barcelona in 1999/2000 from 16 matches.
2) Robert LewanGOALski
There aren’t enough superlatives to describe Lewandowski this season. The Poland captain is the leading scorer in Europe over 2019/20, finding the net a remarkable 54 times in just 45 competitive outings, at a rate of a goal every 73 minutes.
In the Champions League, he has found the back of the net in all eight appearances this season. His strike to make it 6-2 against Barcelona moved him on to 14 in the competition this term – as many as the whole Lyon team combined. It also took him to 50 Champions League goals for Bayern, becoming the first player to reach the mark for a single club that isn’t Real Madrid or Barcelona. He’s reached that total at a breath-taking pace, coming in just 60 games. Only Cristiano Ronaldo for Madrid has brought up a half century for a club quicker (in 50 games).
Watch: How Lewandowski became the world’s best No.9
Putting the ball in the back of the net isn’t all he does, though. The 31-year-old also tops the Champions League assist chart with five alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe and Lyon’s Houssem Aouar. It’s a personal best for Lewandowski in the competition and means he’s had a direct hand in 19 European goals this season. That’s one every 37 minutes! Under Flick, he’s even more prolific with a goal or assist every 31 minutes – that’s essentially three a game.
All told this season, Lewandowski has failed to score or assist in just six matches. It’s the sort of form that would have seen him walk to this year’s Ballon d’Or, claiming it from Lionel Messi, had France Football not taken the decision to cancel the 2020 award.
3) The supporting cast
Lyon boss Rudi Garcia will no doubt have some sleepless nights contemplating how to stop Lewandowski, but he won’t dare lose sight of the rest of this Bayern team. It’s one thing thrashing Barcelona the way they did, becoming the first team in the Champions League era to score eight goals in a knockout game, but a remarkable stat that went under the radar was that all eight were assisted by different players.
Thomas Müller was named Man of the Match by UEFA after he got the demolition underway with a first-half brace, but it was also his marshalling of the high press that caused Barcelona such huge issues. The Bundesliga’s assist king later teed up substitute Philippe Coutinho for the first of his two goals. With another assist himself, the Brazilian provides no respite off the bench late in the game.
Alongside Müller, Serge Gnabry is the other Bayern player in double figures for goals and assists this term, with 21 and 13 apiece. Five of those came in the 7-2 demolition of last season’s finalists Tottenham as he became the first player in Champions League history to score four goals in the second half of a match.
Watch: All of Müller’s Bundesliga goals and assists in 2019/20
Further back, Alphonso Davies has underlined his claim to be one of the world’s best left-backs. The Canadian kept his boyhood idol Messi remarkably quiet in the quarter-final before going up the other end and embarrassing Nelson Semedo to lay up Joshua Kimmich (the other full-back) arriving in the six-yard box.
Kimmich is only playing at right-back as cover for the injured Benjamin Pavard, but he had an outstanding evening against Barcelona. A goal and an assist capped off a performance that saw him complete 100 per cent of his take-ons, create seven chances and also not get dribbled past once.
And then there’s the central midfield partnership of Thiago and Leon Goretzka. The former had the most touches and completed the most passes (71/74) in the quarter-final, while the latter has emerged from the shadows following a lockdown bulk-up. He provided the assist for Gnabry with a no-look flick, completed 42 of his 43 passes and won the most tackles and made the most interceptions.
There are 10 Bayern players who are in double figures for goal involvements in all competitions this season. Opponents Lyon have just four such players, with almost half of their goals being scored by Moussa Dembele or Memphis Depay (39/80).
It comes as little surprise, then, that Bayern have broken the record for most goals from the first nine games of a Champions League campaign (39) and reached the 100-goal mark in the Bundesliga. The only teams to stop them scoring this season have been Leipzig (that 0-0 draw on Matchday 21) and Borussia Dortmund (2-0 in the Supercup).
4) History on Bayern’s side
Lyon were the French side to beat throughout the noughties, winning all seven of their league titles in succession between 2002 and 2008. It was during that decade that all previous ties with Bayern took place in the Champions League.
The first six of those came in the group stages and proved balanced affairs with two wins each and two draws. One of those Lyon victories came at Munich’s Olympiastadion and produced a spine-tingling moment when Bayern legend Giovane Elber scored the winner for the French club – just five months after making the switch – and received a standing ovation from 59,000 spectators.
The last two encounters came 10 years ago as the sides once again met in the semi-finals in April 2010. It’s the only previous occasion Lyon have reached the final four of the Champions League or European Cup.
The first leg was a tight affair at the Allianz Arena, but Arjen Robben’s long-range strike gave Bayern the advantage in a game both sides finished with 10 men. The return fixture was much more conclusive as Louis van Gaal’s side won 3-0 at the Stade Gerland thanks to an Ivica Olic hat-trick. The first of those goals was set up by Müller, who played all 180 minutes over a decade ago, as Bayern booked their place in the 2009/10 Champions League final.
Although the record German champions came up short that year at the Santiago Bernabeu against Inter Milan, they made amends three years later when they won their fifth European crown at Wembley against Dortmund. In fact, Bayern are the only one of the four semi-finalists to have been champions of Europe. Lyon and PSG have both matched their personal bests by reaching the final four, while Leipzig are here for the first time in their 11-year history.
5) Flickers of 2013
Bayern’s turnaround under Flick has been nothing short of incredible. On his watch, the record champions have won 31 out of 34 competitive matches, scoring 112 goals and conceding just 26.
The 55-year-old has managed to get the best out of every player and the team as a unit, restoring a marginalised Müller to his Raumdeuter-ing best, turning Kimmich into the midfield glue that binds everything, Goretzka into the Incredible Hulk and Davies into one of the best left-backs in the world.
"Hansi has brought togetherness to the team, and has us playing the Bayern way again," commented CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after Flick secured the club’s 13th domestic double with the DFB Cup final win over Bayer Leverkusen.
It’s the concept of ‘Mia san mia’ that many feel had been lacking for some time but is now back as the team has been rejuvenated while retaining a core of players who identify strongly with the club.
Flick’s win rate in the league of 88 per cent is also the best of any head coach in Bundesliga history. In all competitions, he averages 2.76 points per game, which is even more than Jupp Heynckes managed in his historic 2012/13 campaign (2.65). This Bayern team also average more goals per game (3.3) than the treble winners did (2.80).
Watch: Bayern’s treble-winning 2012/13 season
Also considering the format of this knockout competition in Lisbon, there’s an element of the unknown with a new setup, but again Bayern will feel they have the right man in the hotseat. Flick is no stranger to tournaments, having been assistant to Joachim Löw at two UEFA European Championships and two FIFA World Cups with Germany, famously winning the latter in 2014. That included the famous 7-1 win over Brazil, which his Munich team have now replicated with their Barcelona result.
Both Flick and his Bayern players (among them three of Germany’s world champions in Neuer, Boateng and Müller) have described this remaining Champions League campaign as similar to a World Cup, with the teams in camps and facing all-or-nothing knockout ties. Experience is a major bonus in these unusual conditions. Bayern have it in abundance.
Quiz: Bundesliga teams in the 2019/20 Champions League!