How Bayern claimed its 5th straight Bundesliga title
BERLIN (AP) — No team had ever won the Bundesliga more than three times in a row before Bayern Munich extended it to four last year.
Now make that five.
As expected, the Bavarian powerhouse extended its record with its fifth straight title Saturday, beating Wolfsburg 6-0 away to wrap up its 27th German championship overall with three games to go.
How did Bayern do it and what makes the club so dominant in Germany?
Here are a few reasons:
After taking over from Pep Guardiola last summer, Carlo Ancelotti inherited a squad of Germany’s World Cup winners such as Thomas Mueller, Philipp Lahm and Jerome Boateng, as well as stars like Robert Lewandowski, Thiago Alcantara, Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery. Germany defender Mats Hummels arrived from league rival Borussia Dortmund, and exciting Portugal midfielder Renato Sanches from Benfica. Ancelotti has had enviable talent at his disposal, with some of his stars forced to spend time on the substitutes’ bench due to the fierce competition for places.
A GREAT START
Ancelotti began his tenure with seven victories across all competitions - the best start ever for a new Bayern coach - and didn’t taste defeat in the Bundesliga until a 1-0 defeat at home to Borussia Dortmund in the 11th round. It proved to be just one of two defeats on the way to the title.
Bayern was able to dig itself out of trouble with narrow victories and late goals maintaining its title push when it seemed the side’s intensity had dropped after Christmas. Lewandowski scored in injury time for a 2-1 win at Freiburg, Manuel Neuer made a number of saves to secure a 2-1 victory at Werder Bremen, and another injury-time goal from Lewandowski — in the 96th minute — salvaged a 1-1 draw at Hertha Berlin. Other sides complain of Bayern’s “luck” but it’s the undying will to win that pushes the side to the very end of games.
Much is made of Wolfsburg’s backing by Volkswagen, Bayer Leverkusen by the pharmaceutical company, or Leipzig by an energy drinks company, but Bayern can count on the backing of three major partners: sportswear giant Adidas, insurance company Allianz, and car-maker Audi. They each hold an 8.33 percent stake in the club, which boasts revenues unrivaled among any other side in Germany.
Money and players alone aren’t enough to win the championship. Bayern dug deep when it had to, turning draws into narrow wins and defeats into draws. Ancelotti’s patient approach has been appreciated by his players, who were given more freedom than under predecessor Pep Guardiola. The Italian coach has an excellent backroom team including assistant coaches Hermann Gerland and Davide Ancelotti (his son), technical director Michael Reschke. Perhaps even more importantly, Ancelotti can count on unwavering support from club chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and president Uli Hoeness.
While Wolfsburg offered no resistance on Saturday, the fact that a promoted side, Leipzig, was the one to push Ancelotti’s team the hardest says a lot about the level of competition Bayern faces on a regular basis in the Bundesliga. Dortmund’s challenge faded due to inconsistency, and expected challengers like Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and Schalke all faltered badly. Schalke started with five defeats, while the others are still fighting relegation.