Bayern Munich won the Bundesliga title (again) at a canter (again.) The league was mathematically won in early April with a 4-1 win over Augsburg, but in reality they weren’t ever tested from the outset.
A loss in the DFB Pokal final to Eintracht Frankfurt was disappointing but that was a game Bayern would have won 9 times out of 10 after unsurprisingly dominating possession and chances.
Until they have a challenger domestically Bayern will always be judged on how they fare in the Champions League and once again the fell short in Europe. Another defeat to Real Madrid and another semi-final defeat will have stung bitterly especially after they were arguably the better side in both legs.
Manager Background – Niko Kovac
Nico Kovac is the man to replace Bayern legend Jupp Heynckes, who ended his third spell in charge of the Bavarians with another league title. He was denied a double by incoming manager Kovac who led Eintracht Frankfurt to the Pokal title, their first since 1988 and therefore a place in Europe. Kovac took over in March 2016 and was successful in beating Nürnberg in a relegation playoff to secure Eintracht’s place in the Bundesliga.
He guided them to eleventh in 2016/17 before finishing eighth last time out, and but for a poor run of form towards the end of the season it could have been the Champions League and not the Europa League for Frankfurt this season.
A quieter summer window thus far for Bayern Munich with Leon Goretzka, on a free from Schalke and Alphonso Davies a young Canadian winger being the two main incomings.
Serge Gnabry returned from a season-long loan spell at Hoffenheim and will likely play a large role for Bayern Munich this season. Far bigger names left Bavaria this summer with Arturo Vidal completing a move to Barcelona for just under €20 million and Douglas Costa making his loan move to Juventus permanent.
Bayern appear to be content to go into the season with the squad they currently have, mixing the youth of Gnabry, Davies and Goretzka with the more established names.
Bayern Munich will win the Bundesliga again baring a catastrophe. No other club has the quality or the consistency to challenge them over 34 games. They would like to win the Pokal again but for Bayern the Champions League will once again define their year. Real Madrid, their bogey side, no longer have Cristiano Ronaldo and although Madrid’s loss is Juventus’ gain, Bayern will feel they have the edge over the Italians.
Realistically they can beat anyone in Europe this season and should be considered amongst the top two or three favourites for the competition and so as a result anything less than a semi-final will be disappointing even in Kovac’s first season in charge. But for Bayern fans, another semi-final defeat in Europe would be a bitter pill to swallow.
Probable XI (4-2-3-1)
Neuer – Kimmich, Hummels, Süle, Alaba – Martinez, Thiago – Robben, Müller, Ribery – Lewandowski
By Thomas Pain.