Munich - Bundesliga titleholders, DFB Cup Winners, UEFA Champions League conquerors, victors in the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup champions: 2013 has been a year to remember for FC Bayern München.
The Bavarians have been in a league of their own in the past 12 months and, as well as stocking on up silverware, they have set a whole host of records along the way.
“People will be talking about the golden Wembley generation in 20, 30, 40 years,” explained CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge after joining vice-captain Bastian Schweinsteiger and long-term absentee Holger Badstuber on stage to collect the much-deserved accolade of Germany’s Team of the Year 2013 in late December. “We’ll be forever grateful to Jupp Heynckes for such a successful era,” he continued, well aware that Bayern might not be where they are today without the resolve of their former chief.
Determined to make amends following two years of domestic subservience to double-winners Borussia Dortmund, not to mention defeat in the 2012 Champions League final on home soil, the now 68-year-old Heynckes crafted a nigh-on unstoppable red machine. By April of the following year, Bayern had already wrapped up the Bundesliga title with six games to spare - the quickest-ever triumph in the history of the German game - but being the tour de force we have all come to know and love, Franck Ribery and Co were not finished yet.
Tough act to follow
Come the final day of the season, the 22-time Bundesliga champions were the proud owners of a hatful of previously unheard-of milestones. No team had ever accrued as many points (91 from a possible 102) in a single campaign as Bayern, who rounded off proceedings with a league-high 25-point lead over closest pursuers Dortmund and boasting a never-before-seen goal difference ratio of +80, having strung together the longest ever winning run (14 matches) and conceded an all-time-low 18 goals in the process.
The foundations for today’s insatiable breed of Bundesliga record-breakers had been laid, but not before Heynckes had sounded off on a winning note in the DFB Cup and Champions League. New head coach Pep Guardiola would be the man charged with taking the recently-anointed treble winners to the next level, though judging by the club’s almost impeccable run of form during the Catalan’s first five months or so at the helm, he is already halfway there.
Pep’s class of 2014
44 points from 16 games is the highest return any side has ever delivered from the start of a season, while Guardiola himself has set a new record in the coaching department of 16 matches unbeaten. In doing so, the former FC Barcelona favourite has helped extend Bayern’s undefeated league run to a record-trouncing 41 matches. Discounting July’s testing-of-the-waters loss to Dortmund in the DFL Supercup and recent defeat to Manchester City FC in the Champions League, which incidentally ended Bayern’s historic ten-match winning stretch at Europe’s top table, Guardiola could hardly have asked for much more.
With the already in the bag after victory over the old enemy, Chelsea FC, last August, and following in Morocco last month, the Bundesliga leaders will be hoping to pick up where they left off over the course of an unforgettable 2013 by making 2014 the year they did the impossible: become the first side successfully to defend the Champions League. Further best marks are a given.