Recent upheaval might have leant a touch of anti-climax to Bayern Munich’s latest title win but 2020-21 has shown their total dominance of the Bundesliga does not look likely to end anytime soon.
A thrilling quarter-final tie against Paris Saint-Germain saw Bayern’s reign as European champions end as they were eliminated on away goals.
The aftermath of that dramatic Champions League showdown saw speculation mount over Hansi Flick’s future and the Bavarian giants were in the unusual position of naming the coach of their nearest rivals, RB Leipzig’s Julian Nagelsmann, as their next boss before domestic glory had been rubber stamped.
However, familiar celebrations can now begin after rivals Borussia Dortmund beat second-placed RB Leipzig 3-2, with the prints of some familiar faces all over this latest success.
FC Hollywood on cloud nine
Continuing a streak started by Jupp Heynckes’ treble winners in 2012-13, Bayern have now won the Bundesliga for nine seasons in a row. Much as this statistic can draw mirth in some quarters over the competitiveness of Germany’s top flight, it certainly did not always used to be this way.
Previously, the longest stretch of consecutive titles in a row was three, although on three of the four occasions this occurred, Bayern were the team responsible.
Indeed, Die Roten’s 30th crown overall means they have won 52 per cent of the championships on offer since the Bundesliga was founded in 1963. The picture was a little more even before the turn of the century, with Bayern having now won 16 this millennium.
Bayern have equalled the record established by Juventus in Europe’s top five leagues and can go clear on their own with 10 in a row next term, given the collapse of Andrea Pirlo’s men in Serie A this season.
This era of success is built upon a number of mainstays. Thomas Muller, Manuel Neuer and outgoing trio David Alaba, Jerome Boateng and Javi Martinez have been present for all nine of the title wins.
Muller and Alaba now have 10 overall, setting a new player record in Germany, while Martinez is the only player in Bundesliga history to win the title as many as nine times without ever failing to do so in any season.
Hansi off with incredible record
Flick’s involvement with Bayern has been more fleeting than the stalwarts above, but he has nevertheless left an indelible impression upon one of Europe’s great clubs.
His record overall is 68 wins from 83 games, with eight draws and seven defeats. That amounts to an 82 per cent win percentage – a record for any Bayern coach.
Similarly, a goals-per-game average of 2.9 is better than any of his predecessors, numbers that were enhanced during the German record-breaking run of 23 straight wins in all competitions between February and September 2020.
Consequently, the trophies stacked up and Flick’s six major honours amount to one every 14 games.
He averages 2.45 points-per-game from 55 Bundesliga outings, a figure only bettered by Pep Guardiola (2.52 PPG from 102 matches).
Hail King Lewy
Flick is likely to reflect fondly upon the fact his brief Bayern tenure has coincided with Robert Lewandowski taking his phenomenal goalscoring exploits to another level.
Even though the Bundesliga boasts the sought-after talents of Erling Haaland and Andre Silva, each of whom have managed 25 top-flight goals this season, the race for the Torjagerkanone has not even been particularly close.
Despite spending a spell on the sidelines recently, arguably decisively when it came to Bayern’s derailed Champions League hopes, Lewandowski has scored an astounding 36 goals in 26 appearances, leaving him in direct competition with Gerd Muller’s celebrated all-time mark of 40 goals in a single campaign, rather than his contemporaries.
The Poland superstar’s haul comes from 112 shots overall and 55 on target. Lewandowski’s goals-per-minute average of 60.9 is the best of any Bundesliga player to have scored multiple goals this season.
Among players with 10 goals or more, only Max Kruse (37.04 per cent) has a better shot conversion rate than Lewandowski’s 32.14.
He has 30 non-penalty goals, outstripping an expected goals (xG) figure of 21. By way of comparison, Haaland’s non-penalty goals to xG comparison is 23 to 19.8 and Silva’s is 19 to 18.1.
Like most great strikers, Lewandowski has a fine foil in Thomas Muller, whose 17 assists are comfortably a Bundesliga best this season, placing him five clear of Eintracht Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic on 11.
Kimmich the man in control
The foundations for Lewandowski’s incredible exploits come from Bayern’s smooth control of matches and no one has been more responsible for that in 2020-21 than Joshua Kimmich.
A defensive utility man when he broke into the Bayern team under Guardiola, Kimmich is now one of the premier midfielders in world football and at the heart of his club’s considerable achievements.
Among Bundesliga midfielders, Kimmich has completed the second-most passes – behind Stuttgart’s Wataru Endo (1,479) – with 1,465 at an accuracy of 87.8.
He has supplied 10 assists from 59 chances created, with Kostic (80), Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho (65) and Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku (63) the only players among those classed as midfielders by Opta to have crafted more openings for team-mates.
Kimmich has made 32 interceptions, 35 tackles and is joint-seventh among Bundesliga midfielders when it comes to his 184 recoveries.
Time for a Neu last line of defence?
Neuer is now the first goalkeeper to win nine Bundesliga titles, putting him one clear of Oliver Kahn.
However, it might be fair to ask whether his position as Bayern number one might come under renewed threat from understudy Alexander Nubel once Nagelsmann is in position.
Of goalkeepers to have played 20 or more Bundesliga games this season, five – Peter Gulacsi, Lukas Hradecky, Koen Casteels, Alexander Schwolow and Andreas Luthe – have conceded fewer than Neuer’s 40.
Similarly, eight clean sheets have him fourth overall behind Gulacsi, Casteels and Stefan Ortega Moreno.
Neuer’s 77 saves from 116 shots on target faced give him a save percentage of 65.52 – leaving him around the middle of the pack when it comes to the Bundesliga’s elite stoppers. Florian Muller of Freiburg leads the way, repelling 71.07 per cent of shots to have threatened his goal.
Bayern’s skipper has an expected goals on target (xGOT) against figure of 40.6. Having conceded 39 non-penalty goals, Neuer has conceded fractionally fewer goals than he would be expected to, given the quality of chances coughed up by a backline lacking its previous assurance.
Nagelsmann could bring fresh solidity to Bayern that would be welcomed by the 35-year-old Neuer, whose aptitude outside of his penalty area enabled Flick to operate with such a daringly high defensive line, sometimes at the expense of the goalkeeper’s personal statistics.
Leipzig’s number one Gulacsi has only been breached 28 times, but has faced 41 fewer shots on target than Neuer this term, actually giving him a lower save percentage (62.67). His 25 non-penalty goals conceded align with an xGOT of 25.62.
The arrival of Nagelsmann and Leipzig’s best defender Dayot Upamecano might well be great news for Neuer, one of the few Bayern players to emerge from this latest success with a few question marks over their form.
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