Bayern Munich 2016/17 season review

Bayern Munich celebrated a record fifth consecutive Bundesliga title and their 26th overall in 2016/17. bundesliga.com looks back with great fondness on the champions' superlative campaign...

The 2016/17 season heralded the start of the Carlo Ancelotti era at Bayern, as the veteran Italian coach – winner of three UEFA Champions League titles, as well as domestic crowns in Italy, England and France – took over from Pep Guardiola at Säbener Strasse. The Bavarian giants strengthened their squad with the arrivals of former youth product Mats Hummels from Borussia Dortmund and UEFA EURO 2016 winner Renato Sanches from Benfica, as they embarked on their quest for a record-extending 26th Bundesliga title.

Yet before a ball of the league season was kicked, Bayern had already set about adding to their extremely well-stocked trophy cabinet, with a comfortable victory over Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup. Arturo Vidal and Thomas Müller got the goals for the champions as they lifted the trophy for the first time since 2012/13. They followed that up with a 5-0 stroll against fourth-tier Carl Zeiss Jena in the DFB Cup, in which top marksman Robert Lewandowski sent out an ominous warning with a first-half hat-trick.

- © imago / Bild13

Confidence was therefore running high ahead of the opening weekend of the Bundesliga season, and the four-time defending champions set the tone with a 6-0 demolition of Werder Bremen. Lewandowski made it very clear that he would once again be the man to beat in the race for the top scorer's cannon, as he grabbed his second hat-trick in as many games at the Allianz Arena.

Bayern's flying start under Ancelotti continued apace throughout September, with another win over Schalke and a 5-0 rout of Rostov in their Champions League group stage opener. The player expected to fill Philipp Lahm's sizeable boots next season, Joshua Kimmich, came to the fore with three goals in those two games, as well as his first international goal for Germany in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Norway.

The winning start under Ancelotti stretched to eight games with further victories against Ingolstadt, Hertha Berlin and Hamburg, but all good things must come to an end, and so it proved during a trip to the Spanish capital to face Atletico Madrid, as the 2014 and 2016 finalists ran out 1-0 winners against the 2013 European champions.

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- © gettyimages / David Ramos

That first defeat of the campaign seemed to take a little of the wind out of Bayern's sails, as they played out successive draws with Cologne and Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga. A 4-1 dismissal of PSV Eindhoven got them back on track, before another run of five wins in all competitions – including two 3-1 victories in the space of four days against Bavarian rivals Augsburg.

Leaders since the opening day, Bayern slipped off top spot for the first time in over a year on Matchday 11, as they were beaten 1-0 by Dortmund in an enthralling edition of Der Klassiker. Coming on the back of a 1-1 draw with high-flying Hoffenheim, the BVB defeat allowed Bundesliga upstarts RB Leipzig to take hold of top spot, although it wouldn't take the champions long to reclaim the throne.

A shock defeat at Rostov all but ended Bayern's hopes of finishing top of their Champions League group, and so it proved despite a 1-0 home victory over Atletico in early December. Meanwhile, Ancelotti's side began to slip through the gears in the Bundesliga in the run-up to Christmas. After a five-star performance against Wolfsburg – with a brace for Lewandowski – Bayern ended 2016 on a high note, putting Leipzig in their place with a dominant 3-0 victory at the Allianz Arena. 

Watch: Bayern eased to victory in their top-of-the-table Christmas cracker with Leipzig:

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They picked up where they left off after the winter break, securing the unofficial title of autumn champions with a last-gasp 2-1 win at Freiburg, before beating Werder Bremen by the same scoreline to make it a season-high seven straight wins in the Bundesliga. A couple of draws followed in February, against Schalke and Hertha, but so too did arguably two of the most impressive performances of the season.

Firstly, Bayern all but guaranteed themselves a place in the Champions League quarter-finals with a stunning 5-1 home win over their old friends Arsenal in the last 16 first leg. They then welcomed Hamburg to the Allianz Arena for the latest in a series of chastening defeats. Following the 9-2 in March 2013 and the 8-0 in February 2015, they once again crushed the Red Shorts 8-0, with Lewandowski scoring his second hat-trick of the Bundesliga season to move level with Dortmund's Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang at the top of the scoring charts.

The Hamburg rout kicked off a superb run of seven wins in all competitions, in which Bayern scored a whopping 29 goals and conceded just two. It was unquestionably the most dominant period of the season, in which European contenders were dispatched with nonchalance (3-0 wins against Cologne and Eintracht Frankfurt), Arsenal were battered by the same 5-1 scoreline in London (for a staggering aggregate score of 10-2), and derby rivals Augsburg were hit for six at the Allianz Arena (hat-trick number three of the campaign for Lewandowski).

The juggernaut was eventually stopped in its tracks by Hoffenheim, the only Bundesliga team to emerge with a positive head-to-head record against Bayern this season (four points from a possible six). The champions bounced back in some style, though, taking revenge for their earlier defeat to Dortmund with a scintillating 4-1 win in round two of Der Klassiker.

A marathon month of April (nine games in all) continued with two high-octane clashes against Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals. In the first leg in Bavaria, Bayern dominated the early exchanges and took a deserved lead through Arturo Vidal, who had the chance to make it 2-0 on the stroke of half-time but skied his penalty over the bar. It would prove to be a turning point. Cristiano Ronaldo equalised just after half-time, before grabbing a winner on the night after Javi Martinez had been sent off for a second bookable offence. Advantage Real.

Watch: Highlights of Bayern's Klassiker win over Dortmund

The second leg was arguably one of the best games of football to be played anywhere in the world this season, as the two European heavyweights traded blow after blow at the Santiago Bernabeu. Lewandowski converted a penalty to put Bayern ahead, but Real responded through Ronaldo, before captain Sergio Ramos inadvertently levelled up the tie by turning into his own net. The game was set for a magnificent finale, and so it might have been had Vidal not been harshly dismissed on 84 minutes. With 10 men, Bayern no longer had the legs to contain Real, and Ronaldo added two further goals to see the holders through to the semi-finals.

Bayern were surely feeling the ill-effects of their Champions League exit as they were held to a draw at home to Mainz four days later, but a draw for Leipzig at Schalke did at least keep them eight points clear at the top. That preceded a DFB Cup semi-final defeat to Borussia Dortmund, but they made Wolfsburg bear the brunt of those frustrations on Matchday 31 with a 6-0 hammering - a result that secured them a record fifth consecutive Bundesliga title with three games to spare.

Watch: Bayern celebrate the title after beating Wolfsburg:

Did the champions ease off? Far from it. Saving their best performance until last - well, almost - Bayern delivered a comeback for the ages at Leipzig on the penultimate weekend. Trailing 3-1 and then 4-2 with seven minutes of normal time remaining, the Reds rattled off three goals in the dying stages to turn a spell-binding contest in their favour. The defensive wobbles aside, this was Bayern the Unquenchables laid bare for all to see.

Watch: Relive Bayern's remarkable 5-4 victory at Leipzig's Red Bull Arena

Bayern still found room for one last gala display against Freiburg on Matchday 34. Lewandowski was unable to defend his top scorer's crown, but that did little to detract from an unforgettable afternoon at the Allianz Arena. Obligatory wheat beer showers in full flow following a routine 4-1 success, it was a fitting denouement for outgoing captain Philipp Lahm - hanging up his boots after eight Bundesliga titles wins with his boyhood club - and Spanish midfield maestro Xabi Alonso.

Bayern's big night of Bavarian revelry continued late into the night, but Ancelotti, over his glass of vintage Barolo, was already moving on to next season. A sixth straight title is the aim for the perennial Bundesliga pacesetters, who once again proved to be a cut above in 2016/17.

Watch: The best bits from Bayern's title party

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