Hansi Flick’s Bayern Munich are the first in the club’s decorated history to win a sextuple - are they the best ever?
bundesliga.com weighs up the current crop against some of their vaunted predecessors…
Flick did the unthinkable when he took over a Bayern side sat fourth in the Bundesliga and on a run of one win from four in November 2019. The record champions proceeded to lose just twice in all competitions over the remainder of the coronavirus-interrupted season, giving the former Bayern midfielder the best win ratio of any Bayern coach in history.
Bayern secured an eighth successive Bundesliga title - and 29th overall - with two games to spare, ultimately finishing some 13 points clear of nearest rivals Borussia Dortmund. They did so with a superior points-per-game average than any other Bayern team, whilst running harder and scoring more goals.
Watch: Bayern's sextuple… and what is to follow
Of their 100 Bundesliga goals total - one shy of the all-time record set by the 1971/72 vintage - Robert Lewandowski contributed 38, scoring a league-high 34.
Further competition best-marks in the DFB Cup (six) and UEFA Champions League (15) fuelled a campaign of unprecedented campaign for player and club alike. The FIFA Best Player 2020 award was just reward for the first man to lift each component of a continental treble as top scorer.
Lewandowski is already over halfway to emulating his 55-goal haul, with over a third of 2020/21 still to play. He didn’t score in respective German Supercup and UEFA Super Cup wins over Dortmund and Sevilla, but claimed the 2020 FIFA Club World Cup Golden Ball in Qatar, thanks in no small part to his match-winning brace against African champions Al-Ahly in the semi-finals.
A commanding team display in the final against Mexico’s Tigres secured trophy number six - a feat achieved only by Pep Guardiola’s 2009 tiki-tastic Barcelona contingent.
Flick has now won more titles than he has lost matches as Bayern coach. The Bavarians - despite exiting the DFB Cup - remain the team to beat at home and abroad. Their lead at the Bundesliga summit is a healthy seven points after 20 rounds of fixtures, while they powered through Champions League Group A as unbeaten winners, having blown through the field on their way to a sixth European crown last season.
With 43 goals all told, Bayern finished just two short of Barcelona’s record tally of 1999/2000, which was the product of five games more than Bayern’s 11. Flick’s men won every single one of them, and are unbeaten in 17 heading into their 2020/21 last-16 tie with Italy’s Lazio.
Few teams have ever looked quite so dominant on multiple fronts.
Pre-Flick, the class of 2012/13 were the last Bayern team to win a Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB Cup treble. Jupp Heynckes was the mastermind, having overseen runners-up finishes in each competition in the previous campaign. The reversal in fortunes was emphatic, and heralded a new era at Germany’s most successful club.
"Bayern have never played a football this modern, this attractive, this contemporary in their whole history," commented Heynckes of a Bayern team that won the title in record time, whilst setting new standards for most points and goals scored, as well as the fewest conceded. He was right.
The brilliantly fluid style with which a team including Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben swatted aside all before them domestically was laid bare for all to see in the Champions League. Following knockout victories over Arsenal and Juventus, Bayern thumped Barcelona 7-0 on aggregate in the semi-finals. The final scoreline didn’t remotely flatter them.
Bayern saw off Jürgen Klopp’s Dortmund in the competition’s first all-German final, before edging VfB Stuttgart in the cup. It was Heynckes’ final act of his third of four stints at the helm.
2013/14 - 2015/16
Guardiola picked up the baton in summer 2013, tasked with making Bayern even better. He succeeded - domestically at least.
Bayern won 15 of his first 18 games in charge - a club record matched only in 2020 by Flick - whilst their 28-match unbeaten run from the start of his debut season remains a league record. Their Matchday 27 title wrap marked another new and, as yet, unmatched best-mark.
It was the first of three straight league triumphs - a first for a non-German coach. Guardiola also brought home the 2013 UEFA Supercup, Club World Cup and a pair of DFB Cups, but the Champions League eluded him.
Despite choking the life out of the opposition on home soil, Bayern fell at the semi-final stage at each attempt under the former Barcelona tactician.
Bayern’s 2000/01 Bundesliga title defence was far less convincing than any one of their league triumphs under Guardiola. But for Patrik Andersson’s last-gasp equaliser against Hamburg on the final day of the season, Schalke would have won the league.
And while a shock DFB Cup last-16 defeat to Magdeburg had removed the prospect of a domestic double from the table, a storming Champions League campaign that accounted for old foes Manchester United and Real Madrid’s team of Galacticos in the knockouts culminated in a dramatic shoot-out win over Valencia in the final.
Giovane Elber provided the goals and Stefan Effenberg the grit, but legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was the hero at Milan’s San Siro, saving three Valencia penalties after the game had ended 1-1 after 120 minutes. Without him, the ghost of 1999’s final defeat to Man Utd would still be skulking through the catacombs today.
1973/74 - 1975/76
It was back in the mid-1970s, however, that Bayern established themselves as a bona-fide European football powerhouse.
The first German outfit to lift the European Cup in 1974 after forcing a final replay against Atletico Madrid courtesy of a last-gasp Hans-Georg Schwarzenbeck goal, they went on to defend the title twice with wins over Leeds United and Saint-Etienne.
Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier were the standout names for an omnipotent unit that also provided the backbone of West Germany’s 1972 UEFA European Championship and 1974 FIFA World Cup triumphs.
For many, the 70s troupe - coached by Udo Lattek and later Dettmer Cramer - are the very best Bayern ever. They certainly defined the club's future status as the undisputed number one heavyweight of the German game.
As reigning German, European and world champions, Flick's Bayern are well positioned to hurdle the bar set by their most celebrated forerunners.
The 1970s team played some stunning football - Müller, for one, is the Bundesliga’s record 365-goal marksman to this day - but they had already peaked by the time their domestic success began to translate into European silverware.
In contrast, the current ensemble boasts world-beating individuals on the top of their respective games in goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, midfielder Joshua Kimmich, Raumdeuter Thomas Müller, winger Kingsley Coman and the irrepressible Lewandowski.
The acquisition of younger talents such as Alphonso Davies, Leon Goretzka, Serge Gnabry, Jamal Musiala and Dayot Upamecano, meanwhile, is geared towards extending the most dominant era in club history long into the future.
A successful Champions League defence would represent another significant notch to that end, and surely grant the present-day side all-time best status.
Needless to say, Flick's all-conquering Bayern are shaping up to be worthy of the crown.