It says much for Bayern Munich’s dominance of Germany that a season in which they won the Bundesliga by 10 points can still be considered something of a failure.
A third successive domestic title never appeared in doubt for Pep Guardiola’s men, who went unbeaten for the first half of the campaign.
However, an injury-hit Bayern saw their dreams of another UEFA Champions League title dashed by Barcelona in the semi-finals and were knocked out at the same stage of the DFB-Pokal by Borussia Dortmund.
Here, we take a look at the key moments of a season that was also notable for frequent speculation over Guardiola’s future, and the resignation of club doctor and world-renowned surgeon Hans-Wilhelm Muller-Wohlfahrt following a row with the Spaniard.
SQUAD SHAKE-UP SEES LEWANDOWSKI AND ALONSO ARRIVE
Bayern’s pre-season transfer activity was highlighted by the departures of Toni Kroos and Mario Mandzukic, who moved to Real and Atletico Madrid respectively, and the arrival of Robert Lewandowksi – the Poland forward whose move from Borussia Dortmund had been agreed in January.
Another notable deal was completed towards the end of August as Bayern filled the gap left by Kroos’ departure by signing Real’s Xabi Alonso.
After making his debut in a 1-1 draw at Schalke, former Liverpool midfielder Alonso said: “I’ve enjoyed La Liga and the Premier League, but it’s a big step for me now to come to the Bundesliga.
“The teams are great, the crowds are incredible and the speed of play suits me.”
RECORD-BREAKING WINTER CHAMPIONS
Everything went swimmingly for Bayern prior to the winter break as they beat their own record for the highest points total in the first half of a Bundesliga season.
A 2-1 victory over Mainz on December 19, secured by a late winner from in-form Dutch forward Arjen Robben, gave Guardiola’s men – unbeaten at the halfway stage of the league campaign for a second straight year – a formidable tally of 45 points from 17 matches.
“If we analyse the whole season so far, I’m very, very pleased,” said Guardiola, whose team had also secured top spot in their Champions League group at the earliest opportunity.
“We now need to stay calm and prepare for the second half of the season.”
DOUBLE TROUBLE AS RIBERY AND ROBBEN RULED OUT
Unfortunately for Bayern, Robben and Franck Ribery – two men key to the team’s attacking threat – would go on to make just 12 league appearances between them after Christmas.
Robben was hampered by knee and abdominal issues before tearing a calf muscle towards the end of April, while thigh and ankle problems provided frustration for France international Ribery.
With the likes of David Alaba (knee ligament) also on a lengthening list of absentees, Guardiola was facing problems on the injury front – and things were about to come to a head.
MULLER-WOHLFAHRT RESIGNS BUT BAYERN BOUNCE BACK
With a host of players sidelined, Bayern slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Porto in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
Twenty-four hours later, the club was left reeling by the surprise resignation of long-serving doctor Muller-Wohlfahrt – renowned as a world leader in the treatment of sports injuries.
Muller-Wohlfahrt cited a break in “the bond of trust”, suggesting his medical department had been blamed for the Porto defeat.
However, Bayern put the controversy behind them in style as they romped to a 6-1 victory in the return leg against Porto to storm into the last four of Europe’s premier club competition.
DORTMUND BRING BAYERN BACK DOWN TO EARTH
So often Bayern’s closest rivals, Dortmund had a dreadful season by their usual standards and barely registered on the Bavarians’ radar in the Bundesliga, eventually salvaging a seventh-place finish.
However, Dortmund coach Jurgen Klopp, who departs Signal Iduna Park at the end of the season, had one parting gift for Bayern in the DFB-Pokal.
With home advantage in the semi-finals, Bayern allowed a one-goal lead to slip as Dortmund forced extra-time before Philipp Lahm, Alonso, Mario Gotze and Manuel Neuer earned a place in the home side’s rogues’ gallery – each failing to find the net in a penalty shoot-out that ended 2-0 in their opponents’ favour.
GUARDIOLA MAKES UNHAPPY RETURN TO BARCELONA
With the Bundesliga crown already in the bag, Bayern headed to Barcelona for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final.
However, it proved to be an unhappy return for former Barca coach Guardiola, who saw his side end up on the receiving end of a 3-0 defeat courtesy of a Lionel Messi brace and Neymar’s effort in stoppage time.
The German champions rallied to win the second leg 3-2, but it was not enough for Bayern, whose hopes of a treble had long since faded away.
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