Atletico Madrid ended Bayern Munich’s Champions League dreams on Tuesday, but the Bavarians sealed a fourth consecutive Bundesliga title with a 2-1 win over Ingolstadt on Saturday as Robert Lewandowski’s brace sealed an historic triumph.
We take a look at what Pep Guardiola has achieved in his three years at the Allianz Arena, and the legacy he leaves behind as he prepares to join Manchester City.
No team had ever won the Bundesliga title four times in a row.
Bayern made it three in succession on three separate occasions, but a fourth title proved to be beyond them each time. Gerd Muller, Uli Hoeness, Sepp Maier and Franz Beckenbauer were unable to do it in the early 1970s. Klaus Augenthaler, Lothar Matthaus and Jean-Marie Pfaff had to settle for three straight league crowns in the 1980s. Oliver Kahn, Stefan Effenberg and Giovane Elber also came up short of that mark either side of the turn of the century.
And there was the iconic Borussia Monchengladbach side of Jupp Heynckes and Allan
Simonsen that won three consecutive league titles between 1975 and 1977. They, too, stumbled in pursuit of the fourth title.
But then Guardiola came along.
Heynckes guided Bayern to a historic treble the season before Guardiola’s arrival to set the bar high, but they have gone on to ruthlessly dominate the Bundesliga ever since the former Barcelona boss took charge.
Bayern finished an impressive 19 points clear of Borussia Dortmund in his first season in charge in 2013-14, before they cruised to another Bundesliga title in 2014-15, staying well clear of Wolfsburg to make it three in a row.
This season – even though Dortmund have enjoyed a superb Bundesliga campaign, setting a new club record of 77 points after 33 games – Guardiola comfortably steered his team to a fourth consecutive German title.
He might have been unable to deliver Champions League glory, but there is no denying the Spaniard has done an impressive job domestically.
A squad revamped
Many have argued Guardiola has merely taken advantage of Heynckes’ good work, but that would be an unfair conclusion.
Heynckes’ men might have dominated the Bundesliga in 2012-13, but the fact remains they had been playing second fiddle behind Dortmund the previous two campaigns, with Jurgen Klopp’s team winning back-to-back crowns in 2011 and 2012.
Guardiola felt he had work to do when he arrived in Munich – and he did not hesitate to take drastic action in revamping the squad to one that suited his own image.
Mario Gomez and Luiz Gustavo were the first two big names to be offloaded, while Thiago Alcantara and Mario Gotze were brought in. Mario Mandzukic, Toni Kroos and Xherdan Shaqiri were the next three out of the door the following season, with Lewandowski, Juan Bernat, Medhi Benatia and Xabi Alonso all moving to the Allianz Arena.
Finally, club icon Bastian Schweinsteiger was sold to Manchester United ahead of this season as Joshua Kimmich, Douglas Costa, Kingsley Coman and Arturo Vidal all joined.
A significant squad overhaul has taken place over the past three seasons and Bayern look stronger than ever before, a claim backed up by their domestic results over that period.
Whereas Bayern won just two titles in the five seasons before Guardiola’s arrival, no team has even come close to the Bavarians under the 45-year-old.
Bayern have collected a staggering 254 points from their 101 Bundesliga games under Pep, with Dortmund occupying second place in the cumulative table since Guardiola’s arrival on 194.
With 81 wins from those 101 games, FCB have recorded 22 more victories than second-placed BVB.
Closest challengers Dortmund have been beaten on 25 occasions during the Guardiola era, with Bayern ending up on the losing side just nine times in three campaigns.
The Bavarians’ attacking prowess has been unmatched as well, scoring an amazing 251 goals to Dortmund’s 207 over the three seasons, while they have been even stronger in defence, conceding a mere 57 times against Dortmund’s 112.
Ready to stay on top
Guardiola has not only focused on the here and now, though. He has also ensured Bayern are in fine shape to continue their domestic dominance in the years to come.
Ageing players such as Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Schweinsteiger seemed indispensable to the team not too long ago, but both wingers played only a small role in Bayern’s title-winning campaign, whereas the experienced midfielder was offloaded to Old Trafford at the start of the season.
None of the trio were massively missed. Douglas Costa and Coman were arguably among the revelations of the season, while Kimmich has hugely impressed both in midfield and in defence whenever called upon as injuries mounted up after the mid-season break.
On top of that, Lewandowski, Thomas Muller, Thiago, David Alaba, Javi Martinez, Jerome Boateng and Manuel Neuer all either have their best years ahead of them or are in the prime of their careers. Crucially, they are all now tied to long-term contracts.
While his failure to win the Champions League means his stay has not been an unqualified success, there is no denying he has achieved something special in Munich.
While incoming coach Carlo Ancelotti does not have Guardiola’s stellar record when it comes to domestic titles – with the Catalan winning six out of a potential seven crowns during his spells at Barca and Bayern – the German champions seem destined to continue their Bundesliga hegemony for the foreseeable future.
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