Jupp Heynckes' Bayern Munich, Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund or Pep Guardiola's Bayern? The best Bundesliga title winners of all time
From Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich via Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund all the way back to Borussia Mönchengladbach's 1970s vintage, the Bundesliga has been blessed with all manner of memorable champion sides.
So how do Jupp Heynckes' current Bayern troupe stack up to previous winners? bundesliga.com flicks through the history books to remember some other legendary ensembles ...
1) Bayern Munich,Jupp Heynckes(2018)
How they did it: Heynckes' latest Bayern incarnation was perhaps not the prettiest, but they were pretty relentless. While rivals slipped up time and again – notably pre-season challengers Dortmund and RB Leipzig – Heynckes' team kept winning, triumphing in a remarkable 29 of 32 competitive games after the 72-year-old took over from Carlo Ancelotti in October. Built on a solid defensive foundation – the Bavarians had racked up 15 clean sheets by the time they won the title in early April – this Bayern vintage was not too dissimilar from the veteran coach's 2013 title winners, with eight of that squad still around five years later, and was characterised by the same tactical system (usually lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation) and hunger for success.
2) Bayern Munich,Pep Guardiola(2014, 2015, 2016)
How they did it: Guardiola's Bayern won three straight titles with more style than any predecessor. While the Catalan's sojourn in Germany's football capital might well be defined by his failure to win the UEFA Champions League, those present as his teams swept all before them in the Bundesliga were treated to some of the finest football the country had ever seen.
A whirling dervish of a team, constantly in motion, Guardiola's Bayern built on the foundations laid first by Louis van Gaal and then by treble-winning Heynckes to lift three consecutive Bundesliga titles. An indication of their dominance is that they became the earliest-ever champions in the 2013/14 season, a 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin on 25 March 2014 securing Pep's maiden Meisterschale.
There was the typical Bayern substance to go with Guardiola's considerable style, too – his incarnation only lost nine domestic league games in three seasons, and five of those defeats came after the title had been won. The former Barcelona tactician's reign was perhaps the only way he could respond to Heynckes' 2013 treble; he may not have won the European Cup, but his teams will be remembered as more beautiful, more innovative and as taking German football to a higher plane. The club feigned aloofness when Guardiola decided to leave, but make no mistake: the Catalan set the bar for every future Bayern coach in terms of marrying style and success.
4) Borussia Mönchengladbach, Hennes Weisweiler/Udo Lattek (1970, 1971, 1975, 1976, 1977)
How they did it: The anti-establishment rebels to Bayern's arrogant aristocrats (or so the media would have had you believe), Gladbach provided one immortal half of a duopolistic decade in the 1970s. While perennial rivals Bayern were characterised as dull, 1-0 merchants, the Foals played thrilling, counterattacking football with a young team full of homegrown stars – and how they were loved for it. Their very nickname, the Foals, which persists to this day, was coined by a local journalist at the start of the decade in homage to the free-flowing, reckless attacking of Weisweiler's side.
Anecdotes aside, Gladbach won five titles and were twice runners-up between 1969 and 1978, with the inimitable No10, Günter Netzer (whose ownership of a local nightclub supposedly underlined the difference between Gladbach's carefree attitude and Bayern's stiff upper lip), inspiring the club to the first two triumphs. After his departure in 1973, the Foals – with the influence of total football from across the Dutch border evident in their 4-3-3 formation – became perhaps even more attacking, with Heynckes, Allan Simonsen and Henning Jensen leading the club to three further titles.
While continental success remained elusive (two UEFA Cups from five European finals were a meagre return for a side of that talent), that Borussia remain Europe's third-highest scoring side historically is testament to that longstanding attacking credo, so vibrantly brought to life during those glorious years.
5) Bayern Munich, Ottmar Hitzfeld (1997, 1999, 2000, 2001)
How they did it: This was a group that earned Bayern the nickname FC Hollywood – from Mario Basler's smoking and drinking to Stefan Effenberg's bad-boy, lothario antics, somehow this rag-tag collection of players put personal rivalries aside to form one of Germany's best-remembered teams, knocking Dortmund off their perch and winning four titles in five years.
They also contributed to one of the most thrilling finishes to a season in living memory, Patrik Andersson's last-minute free-kick in Hamburg on the final day of the 2001 season stealing the title from under Schalke's noses. Most of the credit for assembling a functional team from a collection of oversized egos must go to Hitzfeld, whose gift for knowing what makes superstars tick was never more in evidence than in those halcyon Munich years around the turn of the millennium (although it should be noted that the 1997 title came under the tutelage of Giovanni Trapattoni, himself prone to the odd headline-drawing outburst).
There was not just domestic glory, either: Bayern came within minutes of the European Cup in 1999, Manchester United scoring twice late on at the Camp Nou to break Bavarian hearts, but made amends two years later, beating Valencia on penalties in Milan.