Bayern Munich went from a team that looked on its last legs to Champions League winners – could Barcelona take inspiration from their success…?
It’s tempting to think of Bayern Munich’s Champions League and treble win asa inevitable, the obvious consequence of a superclub in an era of complete dominance.
But that forgets where they were 18 months ago when they were outclassed and comfortably beaten by Liverpool – or even eight months ago when Hansi Flick was appointed.
After all, earlier this season they were fourth in the Bundesliga, sacking Niko Kovac after a 5-1 defeat to Eintracht Frankfurt which left them trailing Borussia Monchengladbach, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.
They looked a tired team, with various players seemingly coming to the end of their usefulness for Bayern.
Flick has changed all of that, and now here they are, European champions for the sixth time.
“I saw Bayern against Liverpool 18 months ago, and at that stage Bayern looked completely outmoded,” said Sasha Goryunov on this week’s edition of The Totally Football Show. “They looked like a team on its last legs: they had Hummels, Rafinha, Ribery, James Rodriguez – that was a team that had no vitality and were completely played off the park by Liverpool in Munich.
“The fact they have someone like Alphonso Davies, they have Joshua Kimmich playing at right-back – suddenly the whole backline becomes faster and their pressing system works.
“It’s interesting as well that Hansi Flick was the assistant manager for Germany when they won the 2014 World Cup. He leaves, and they fall apart. Now, the way Bayern play now is similar-ish to the way Germany played in 2014. The team just feels a lot more switched on.”
Daniel Storey continued:
“Those questions about it being the ‘end of an era’ – they weren’t just happening 18 months ago, but they were also happening when Niko Kovac was sacked and they were fourth in the Bundesliga.
“You look at the spine of that team: Neuer’s over 30, Muller is getting there, Lewandowski is getting there, Boateng is getting there. There is an ageing spine to that team. Maybe he came at the perfect time to say “look, some of you can have a final hurrah, and some of you can establish yourselves as the gatekeepers for the next generation.”
“With hindsight, it feels like the ‘perfect storm’ in terms of squad set-up, but in Flick’s defence, it didn’t look like that eight months ago, it really didn’t.”
Could this Bayern team prove an inspiration to another giant apparently heading in the wrong direction who have just appointed a ‘club man’ as manager.
“I still think Barcelona have the makings of a decent side,” said Michael Cox. “They have spent a lot of money on players who haven’t worked out – maybe that’s not just about bad individuals they’ve got in, but just the culture of the club etc.
“I don’t think Barcelona are a million miles away: I think the 8-2 was a bit of a freak result and I wouldn’t be surprised to see them back challenging next season or the season after.”
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