'Only great champions can show this kind of reaction'
What a final that was on Saturday at the Allianz Arena! It marked the perfect culmination of a crazy Bundesliga season which ended in a seventh straight title for FC Bayern. "Thanks to my team and our fans, we did a great job," said Niko Kovac, who was delighted with his first Meisterschale as a coach. "We deservedly became German Champions. We can be proud of that," enthused captain Manuel Neuer about the Bavarians' 29th championship win.
With 88 goals (32 against), the record-breaking champions had the best attack in the league, with Robert Lewandowski (22 goals) once again outperforming everyone and securing the top scorer trophy for the fourth time. Joshua Kimmich, who with a total of 13 assists was the best provider, laid on many of his goals. The defender also didn't miss a single Bundesliga minute. Philipp Lahm (2009/10 and 2010/11) was the last Bayern player to achieve this.
The Germany international therefore played a large part in the fact that the Reds ended the season two points clear at the top. But the path there was not an easy one. Thomas Müller summed it up: "It was a turbulent season." At the beginning of the season, the fans' focus was on the new FC Bayern with their new head coach Kovac - and they were on fire right from the start. With four wins in a row, the Bavarians exceeded all expectations.
However, that was followed by a 1-1 draw after taking the lead at home to Augsburg on Matchday 5. The Reds found it hard to get back on track, but after two subsequent defeats they managed two more wins. However, the dominance of those early matches was lacking and there followed three games without a win, including the 3-3 draw in the home game against Düsseldorf. "We got off to a very good start, but then had a rough patch lasting one and a half months," said Kovac, summing up the start.
The record champions slipped as far down as sixth place in the table and the gap to the top became enormous. "The nine points were a huge hurdle," Serge Gnabry had to admit. However, the team always believed in itself and fought back. "We pulled ourselves together," praised Kovac. "You have to respect what the team then achieved after all the criticism." The Reds then won all their remaining games up to the winter break - in fact, they ended the campaign with 18 wins from their last 22 league matches (three draws, one defeat). "Only great champions can show this kind of reaction," the 47-year-old continued.
Battle right to the wire
The gap to Dortmund shrank steadily, and on Matchday 25 the Black and Yellows were overtaken again. Now a true thriller ensued, in which the lead at the top of the table changed again and again. Everyone was eagerly awaiting the clash of the top two at the Allianz Arena on Matchday 28. Dortmund came to Munich as leaders, but the Bavarians underpinned their claim to the title with a 5-0 thrashing. Uli Hoeneß was thrilled by the performance: "The team shortened the gap with an incredible, energetic performance. The match against Dortmund in particular was the turning point. That's when we turned the goal difference on its head."
After that, the lead was never again to be relinquished, but the title was only settled on the final matchday - in favour of the Bavarians. "It's a very special title, because for the first time it looked very unlikely at Christmas," said the club president. "It was an excellent battle with Dortmund. Everyone has tried to perform better and to outdo the others," remarked Hasan Salihamidzic, also congratulating the team from the Ruhr valley on their performance, which contributed to making this season a truly thrilling one - with a rousing and glorious ending.