Bayern Munich ended 2022 back at the summit of the Bundesliga table as they continue their quest for an 11th straight title, but it hasn’t all been straightforward despite the efforts of Jamal Musiala and Sadio Mane.
The story so far
Despite coming into the season as 10-time defending champions, this was being viewed as a bit of a transitional year for Bayern after they began life after goalscoring supremo Robert Lewandowski. Mane’s arrival from Liverpool was seen as the headline signing, but the Munich club also reinforced at the back with Matthijs de Ligt and Noussair Mazraoui, while Mathys Tel and Ryan Gravenberch also offer much promise for the future. Yet Julian Nagelsmann’s men raced out of the blocks in record-breaking fashion with three wins from three, 15 goals scored and just one conceded – with 13 coming from two away games at Eintracht Frankfurt and Bochum.
However, an autumnal dip followed with draws against Borussia Mönchengladbach, Union Berlin and VfB Stuttgart, before a 1-0 loss in Augsburg saw the champions slip to fifth. But since being held to a dramatic late 2-2 draw in Der Klassiker away at Borussia Dortmund, Nagelsmann’s side have been flawless and won their final six league fixtures before the winter break, scoring 24 and conceding only five to reclaim the summit from long-time leaders Union.
Bayern also lifted the Supercup against RB Leipzig and are through to the last 16 of the DFB Cup for the first time since 2019/20, as well as recording a second straight perfect UEFA Champions League group stage after brushing aside Barcelona, Inter Milan and Viktoria Plzen. They will now face Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.
Bayern have scored 17 goals more than the next most prolific team in the division (Eintracht). They started with a fluid front four led by Mane and without a genuine striker, but the dip in results prompted Nagelsmann to make a change and deploy Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting up top. He started nine of the last 11 games of the year and has scored 11 times as Bayern won every time.
Key player: Jamal Musiala
Mane (aged 30) and Choupo-Moting (33) may both have 11 goals, followed by Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry with 10 apiece, but it’s 19-year-old Musiala who has been the star of the Bayern show. The teenager nicknamed ‘Bambi’ has had a direct hand in 22 goals across as many appearances in all competitions, while no player has contributed as many goals in the Bundesliga as him (15 – nine goals, six assists). The Germany international has been untouchable in some games, drifting and dribbling between defenders with ease. It’s performances that have promoted the great and good of world football to earmark Musiala as “the Messi of the future”, to use the words of Ballon d’Or winner Lothar Matthäus.
Watch: Musiala: Bayern’s glittering gem
The most dramatic match was without doubt the 2-2 draw away at Dortmund on Matchday 9, the biggest win was 7-0 at Bochum in the third round of fixtures, and they’ve struck at least six goals on four occasions. One of those was the opening night in Frankfurt, where the champions really set the tone for their title defence. The final score was 6-1, but Bayern were five to the good even by half-time. It took Joshua Kimmich just five minutes to get them on the board, followed by Benjamin Pavard, Mane, Musiala and Gnabry. Musiala completed his brace late on in a famous victory.
Watch: Eintracht Frankfurt 1-6 Bayern Munich
One to watch: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
It might sound strange to talk of a 33-year-old as the one to watch, but Choupo’s end-of-year form means he’s made himself one to keep an eye on once the season resumes. He was going at a goal a game after coming back into the side, helping put to bed any questions about a Lewandowski replacement. Seeing how his form progresses will be interesting viewing. But obviously there’s so many players at Bayern you’ll want to watch.
Watch: A tactical analysis of Bayern's season so far
View from the camp
"It’s been a turbulent half a year, maybe the most turbulent in my professional career. You, the press, have really kept me on my toes in this time. But we’re the leaders and have an advantage at the top. We’ve done a good job, not perfect, but a good one." - Nagelsmann
Key fixtures in 2023
- RB Leipzig (a), 20 January
- Eintracht Frankfurt (h), 28 January
- Borussia Dortmund (h), weekend of 1 April
- RB Leipzig (h), weekend of 20 May
- Paris Saint-Germain (UCL round of 16), 14 February and 8 March
Watch: The Bundesliga is back!
All 2022/23 season reviews:
Augsburg | Bayer Leverkusen | Bochum | Borussia Dortmund | Borussia Mönchengladbach | Cologne | Eintracht Frankfurt | Freiburg | Hertha Berlin | Hoffenheim | Mainz | RB Leipzig | Schalke | Union Berlin | VfB Stuttgart | Werder Bremen | Wolfsburg
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