Bayern Munich wrap up title in record time
Win at Hertha Berlin puts seal on astonishing campaign under Pep Guardiola
Bayern Munich set a new milestone in their dominance of German football on Tuesday, beating Hertha Berlin to wrap up the quickest Bundesliga title in 51 years of the league.
Goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Goetze and Franck Ribery sealed the unbeaten defending champions’ 24th German title with seven games to spare, bettering the mark set in last year’s record-breaking campaign by one game.
Adrian Ramos pulled one back from the penalty spot for Hertha, but there was to be no denying Pep Guardiola his first Bundesliga title in his first season as coach.
“We worked very hard for this title. When you win by 25 points people can think it’s easy. But it’s not easy, especially after the last season with three titles,” the Spaniard said. “When you win 19 games one after the other, it speaks for the mentality of the team.”
Bayern’s 19th consecutive win, their 10th consecutive victory away from home, and their unbeaten run of 52 games are all Bundesliga records.
Bayern finished 25 points ahead of Dortmund last season and are even more dominant this campaign. Of 27 games so far this season, Bayern have won 25 and drawn the other two. They have also scored more goals (79) and conceded fewer (19) than any other side by a large margin.
“It’s impressive,” Borussia Dortmund coach Juergen Klopp said. “You have to take your hat off to the consistent performances they deliver on the pitch and the drive they have.”
Klopp’s side had to settle for a 0-0 draw in the Ruhr derby with Schalke, despite dominating. Dortmund remained one point ahead of Schalke.
“We’re all very surprised as we expected it in February,” Schalke general manager Horst Heldt joked. “But seriously, it was a magnificent season from Bayern.”
Many wondered how Guardiola could match the success enjoyed under predecessor Jupp Heynckes, who led Bayern to its first treble of Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup victories last year.
Guardiola led Barcelona to 14 titles in four seasons in charge of the club where he played most of his career as a stylish defensive midfielder. But there was no guarantee he could replicate that success in Germany, a country he had only experienced as a visitor before.
Guardiola spoke German on his introduction to the media last June, two days before beginning work as Bayern coach.
Since then he has made the best ever start for a coach in the Bundesliga, where he is yet to taste defeat, while he has led Bayern to three titles including the latest: Bayern had already won the Club World Cup and Uefa Super Cup under his tenure.
“You always hope it goes well but I never expected it to go so well. The first four or five months were difficult but the individual talent saw us through,” Guardiola said. “We’ll celebrate this today and tomorrow.”
With domestic domination appearing secure for years to come, Bayern will measure their success on a continental scale. The club’s achievement of five European Cup or Champions League titles is eclipsed only by Real Madrid and AC Milan, with nine and seven, respectively.
Bayern are aiming to become the first club to defend the European title since it was changed to the new format in 1992. They have been handed a favorable draw for the quarterfinals in a Manchester United side still finding their feet since Alex Ferguson retired as coach.
The only cloud on the horizon has been Uli Hoeness’ conviction for tax evasion. The former Bayern president, who is widely credited with building up this dominant team, is soon expected to begin his 31/2-year prison term.
“The championship is for Uli Hoeness, the most important person at the club,” Guardiola said.