Bayern Munich sealed their 24th German title in stylish fashion with a comfortable 3-1 win at Hertha Berlin on Tuesday.
The Bavarian giants became the first Bundesliga club to win the title in March, defending their title with a record seven matches to spare thanks to goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze and Franck Ribery.
Kroos and Gotze struck within the first 15 minutes, setting the tone in a match that Bayern controlled, and although Adrian Ramos scored a second-half penalty for the hosts, Ribery wrapped up his side’s win with a delightful chip from a tight angle.
Much was made of Pep Guardiola’s arrival in Munich but the Spaniard’s side look on track to beat the 25-point margin Bayern won last year’s league by under Jupp Heynckes.
Their latest triumph saw them go 25 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund and that gap appears only likely to widen as the season goes on.
Bayern’s latest piece of silverware may struggle to find a space in a creaking trophy cabinet that has been filled by six new items in the last year, including two league successes and last season’s UEFA Champions League.
Their evolution under Guardiola was evident in the German capital, with long spells of possession and control giving Hertha little chance of an upset.
The manager neglected to choose an out-and-out striker, leaving the league’s top scorer – Mario Mandzukic – on the bench, with Gotze operating in a false nine position.
The fluid structure to Bayern’s attack was replicated across the pitch, as the players essentially did as they pleased in the German capital.
Bayern started brightly and it took them less than six minutes to assert their dominance.
Thomas Muller got to the byline and although a deflection took his cross away from its intended target, Kroos was on hand to stroke it in from 12 yards at the far post.
Another cross into the penalty area led to Bayern’s second, with Bastian Schweinsteiger’s ball nodded in by Gotze at the near post.
An air of resignation swept through the stadium and despite a lull being inevitable, it only came because Bayern appeared happy to relax.
They flicked the switch again just before the break as Gotze prodded wide before Muller saw a header strike the crossbar after the former’s clever cut-back.
Bayern played like a team who had victory secured in the early stages of the second half and Guardiola attempted to shake things up with the introduction of Ribery and Mandzukic.
The two new arrivals linked almost immediately, but ex-Bayern goalkeeper Thomas Kraft denied Mandzukic with his outstretched right foot, and Hertha then won an unlikely lifeline.
Rafinha needlessly shoved Ramos in the back after a ball in from the right and, clearly unaffected by the pressure, the forward cheekily chipped the resulting penalty down the middle to score.
Ribery made sure Bayern’s fans would be celebrating at the Olympiastadion – where Bayern will hope to return in May for the DFB-Pokal final – though, finishing Gotze’s excellent run with a finish that summed up his side’s brilliant season.
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