Munich - As well as keeping them out in front of Borussia Dortmund at the top of the standings, FC Bayern München's hard-earned 2-1 victory at 1899 Hoffenheim last Saturday secured the club yet another place in the Bundesliga record books, albeit on a shared basis for the time being.
Having set the all-time best-marks tumbling left, right and centre as they stormed to a runaway title success in 2012/13, the men from Munich started the current campaign with new head coach Pep Guardiola inheriting a 25-game unbeaten streak in the top flight from his predecessor Jupp Heynckes. Pretty impressive, but still eleven shy of the 36-match sequence put together by the great Hamburger SV side of the early 1980s.
Chasing that one down was hardly a priority in itself at that juncture, as Guardiola worked to mesh his own unique philosophy with the playing style of the freshly-minted champions of Germany and Europe. Nine wins and two draws down the line, however, Bayern have indeed drawn level with that marathon Hamburg run and, at home to FC Augsburg this weekend, they fully intend to improve on it.
“You don't start playing football in order to break records but once the opportunity's there, you're obviously going to try and take it,” skipper Philipp Lahm said after the win at Hoffenheim. “We've put in a lot of hard work to get to this point and if you look at the history of the Bundesliga, going so many games without losing is something that just doesn't really happen.”
The sole previous occasion that it did was with Ernst Happel's Hamburg, between 30 January 1982 and 22 January the following year. “At the time, I congratulated (HSV full back) Manni Kaltz and (centre forward ) Horst Hrubesch on a record I thought would stand for eternity. Now we've pulled level with it,” FC Bayern CEO and former star forward Karl-Heinz Rummenigge reflected. Indeed in many respects, the Munich club's run outshines that of their illustrious predecessors. Hamburg won 20 of their 36 games, drawing the rest. Bayern have racked up 30 victories in their ongoing march, as well as scoring more goals (95-88) and conceding considerably fewer (21-38).
Unbeaten for over a year
The champions last tasted defeat on 28 October 2012 when, having won eight games straight to start the campaign, they slipped to a somewhat unlucky 2-1 defeat against Bayer Leverkusen at the Allianz Arena. The following week, Bayern bounced back with a 3-0 win at Hamburg, of all teams. Even given such dominant early-season form, however, few would have bet on them still being unbeaten 36 games and an entire calendar year later.
Now, even fewer would wager that Europe's current top dogs will falter at the last against their provincial west Bavarian neighbours. FC Augsburg have lost all four top-flight meetings between the sides to date and, having pulled off last-gasp escape acts in each of their first two Bundesliga campaigns, are focused first and foremost on stockpiling enough points to avoid taking the battle against the drop down to the wire for a third year running.
No complacency in the Bayern camp
That said, Augsburg will step out at the Allianz Arena buoyed by having ended a five-game winless streak with victory over Mainz last weekend. Moreover, after a shaky start to his own Bundesliga coaching career last season, Markus Weinzierl has reshaped the Bavarian Swabians into a fluent, hard-pressing collective who have comprehensively outplayed a fair few nominally stronger teams over the course of 2013. Pulling off a repeat performance against FC Bayern is another matter altogether, but it would be decidedly premature nonetheless to write off the underdogs' chances of causing an upset altogether.
If Bayern were prone to such lapses in judgement however, they would not be on the brink of this historic new best-mark in the first place. Neither is Guardiola the sort who could seriously be accused of resting on his laurels. “I'm going to have to adjust my concept,” the 42-year-old Catalan announced after the game at Hoffenheim, where he himself equalled Klaus Toppmöller's individual record for the best Bundesliga start by a coach at a new club. “It's to do with a few tactical matters. We're going to have to improve if we want to win the title.”
Remarkably enough, this was Bayern's last Bundesliga defeat, nigh on a year ago. Exclusive to the official Bundesliga YouTube channel: