Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka has singled out the club’s “mentality” as its greatest strength following their treble success last season.
The 25-year-old developed into a key member of Hansi Flick’s side as they lifted the Bundesliga, DFB Cup and UEFA Champions League trophies in 2019/20, having embarked on a 30-game unbeaten streak dating back to early December last year.
Speaking to Sport1, the Germany international was asked to name the quality that has set Bayern apart, both domestically and on the continent.
Watch: Bayern's 2019/20 treble winners
“What stands out most is the mentality,” he said. “It’s very unpleasant to play against us, and even harder to beat us. The intensity in our game and our pressing against the ball have worked really well recently.
“Pretty much every team had trouble with that, and it frequently led to us regaining possession in the opposition half. After the restart it was our 'mia-san-mia' mentality [the club motto that stands for the complete will to succeed] that really set us apart. It's something that has defined the club in the past, and we took it to another level. It’s a lot of fun to play in this team. When you look at the players’ faces before kick-off you know they mean business.”
And Goretzka believes that kind of intensity will be needed now more than ever as teams look to knock the treble winners off their perch: “From now on we’re the hunted throughout Europe. Opposing teams will try to get to grips with us even more intently and try to figure out our system.
"But we won’t rest on our laurels. We’ll try to make our game even more varied and keep developing.”
Watch: The numbers stacking up for Goretza and Bayern!
Goretzka himself has developed quite considerably in recent months, particularly since the coronavirus outbreak interrupted last season.
He famously underwent a dramatic transformation during lockdown, and his new muscular physique has made him “more self-confident and more robust. Going into full-blooded challenges feeling like that gives me a greater sense of security”.
It shows, too. The midfielder was substituted off five times and brought off the bench on seven occasions in his 15 Bundesliga outings up to and including Matchday 25. Yet he only missed 45 minutes of Bayern’s subsequent nine league outings, playing from start to finish in the DFB Cup final and was in the first XI in all four of the team’s Champions League games in August.
Watch: Bayern ready to defend treble with Leroy Sane on board
With the new season fast approaching – Bayern open the 2020/21 Bundesliga campaign at home to Schalke on Friday 18 September – Goretzka looks set to retain his place in Flick’s midfield, and insists more is still to come.
“I feel in fantastic shape and I’m injury free,” he said. “I’m fully convinced that my and our best days have only just begun.”