Photo by AFP
It was the 89th minute. Bayern Munich was clinging to a slim 1-0 lead over Werder Bremen who is facing possible relegation. Bayern needed to hold on without superstar leftback Alphonso Davies who was sent off with a red card in the 79th minute. Bremen’s Yuya Osako placed a header toward the left goalpost, a spot that is hard for goalkeepers to save. However, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer stretched out and made a fingertip save.
His teammates were ecstatic. Bremen was dejected. Bayern found a way once again. Bayern finished on top once again.
Bayern Munich clinched their eighth straight Bundesliga title, which momentarily ties Juventus’ run (Juventus started their run one season before Bayern) of Serie A titles for the longest streak of in the history of Europe’s top-five leagues. As easy as Bayern makes it look, this title was not without adversity.
On November 2, 2019, it appeared unlikely Bayern was heading toward another title as they suffered a crushing 5-1 defeat to mid-table club Eintracht Frankfurt. Centerback Jerome Boateng was sent off with a red card early in the match and was overwhelmed from there. Bayern fell to fourth in the Bundesliga table and they fired manager Niko Kovac.
The following week, the Bayern everyone is familiar with would return as they blasted rival Borussia Dortmund 4-0 under new manager Hansi Flick. They would take off from there and capture the title with two matchdays to spare.
What caused the sudden turnaround? Great wing play and excellent all-around contributions from their defenders.
Thomas Muller continues to build a strong legacy as a German football legend with another incredible season of playmaking. Muller leads the league in assists with 19 and serves as the engine for a lethal Bayern offense that leads the league with 93 goals scored. Serge Gnabry burst onto the national scene with 12 goals and 10 assists to give this team even more options.
Their two best defenders, Davies and French defender Benjamin Pavard, were perhaps the two most important players for this team. Davies always stood out whenever he played and made an impact for Bayern all over the pitch. This includes his 41 tackles, second on the team behind midfielder Thiago Alcantara. As for Pavard, who Bayern picked up from VfB Stuttgart, he has contributed 13 clean sheets along with notching five goals and four assists. Adding him has given Bayern youth on defense after using veterans Boateng and Mats Hummels for years.
Bayern found a way to clinch the title. After getting blitzed by Frankfurt a man down, they found a way to hold on with a red card this time and capture their eighth straight Bundesliga title. The question now for Bayern is if the Champions League returns, will they finally break through and make it to their first finals since 2013.