Bayern Munich cruised to a comfortable 6-1 win in Hannover on Saturday, extending their record to a perfect 13 wins in as many matches in the second half of the Bundesliga campaign.
The German champions-elect benefited from an own goal in the opening minutes, and Franck Ribery and Mario Gomez struck before half-time to give them a commanding lead. After the break, Gomez scored another before Claudio Pizarro struck a brace on either side of Andre Hoffmann's consolation goal, sealing Bayern's 79th, 80th, and 81st points of the season.
There may be four matches left to play, but already the time is ripe to compare this Bayern side to the greatest teams in the history of the Bundesliga. With their points total already, Jupp Heynckes' side have equalled the league record, set by Dortmund a year ago. Having won 13 consecutive matches and 26 overall—both new records—they appear set to shatter the benchmark for total points. And they won the league in record time, six games before the final matchday.
Should Bayern win their next three fixtures, they will break the record for most successive wins not constrained to one season: Under Felix Magath's tenure, Bayern won 15 straight at the end of the 2004-05 season and into the 2005-06 campaign.
Bayern have not only been superlative in terms of results but also in terms of defensive quality and attacking output. Having allowed just 14 goals thus far, they are on pace to shatter the 2007-08 Bayern's record of 21 conceded. And with 90 scored, an average of three per game between now and season's end (one they have maintained throughout the season thus far) would see them beat the 1971-72 Bayern's record of 101.
As for goal difference, the current record is plus-64, set by the 1972-73 Bayern. The current team has plus-75 for the season, meaning that, barring complete collapse, the current team will shatter the benchmark for aggregate margin of victory. In terms of points gap to second place, if the season were to end today, Bayern would be level with the previous record of 20. This is particularly phenomenal given that the current runners-up, Dortmund, are among the last four in the Champions League and could break the 70-point barrier in the Bundesliga.
The fact that this Bayern have managed to break so many records and utterly dominated their domestic league is particularly impressive given that they have been on course for a treble all season. There have been some minor blips in the Champions League, but Die Roten have come up aces when it mattered and hammered Italian champions Juventus by a 4-0 aggregate margin. They are certainly not underdogs as they prepare to take on Barcelona in the semifinals. And in the DFB-Pokal, they are resounding favorites to win the final ahead of Stuttgart.
Looking through the history of the Bundesliga, no team has had single-season results like the current Bayern. In 1971-72 and 1972-73, the same Bayern earned what would have been 79 points had the modern points definition been in place at the time. The former hold the goals record, the latter the goal difference record. Both sides won the Bundesliga, but neither added more than one major trophy to their cabinet.
In terms of results, the 1971-72 and 1972-73 Bayern teams are a step below the current Bayern side. Those sides can now only claim to have superior individual quality, given that legends like Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Muller, Sepp Maier, Paul Breitner, Uli Hoeness and Georg Schwarzenbeck played in those seasons. Even so, results are what matter most, and any player-for-player comparison is strictly academic and highly subjective, especially given the evolution of football over the last 40 years.
More recent Bundesliga teams are worth a comparison to the 2012-13 Bayern, but neither stands on the same level. The 1998-99 Bayern took 78 points in their Bundesliga title run but finished runners-up in both the Pokal and Champions League.
The 2011-12 Dortmund held the points record until now but appear set to have that benchmark broken, just as their record for wins was exceeded over the weekend. The BVB of last season won the domestic double, but their Bundesliga and Pokal campaigns were aided by their having been eliminated from the Champions League in the group stage. With a less congested schedule, they claimed 47 out of a possible 51 points in the second half of the campaign despite having a rather thin squad.
Which is the best side in Bundesliga history?
Even with a month left to go in the club season, it's becoming increasingly obvious that this Bayern team is playing the best and most effective football ever seen from a Bundesliga side in a single season. The numbers are staggering, and no other side can compete with their run of success.
The next step is to turn this Bayern into a dynasty. Although superlative over the course of one season, Bayern's current success comes on the heels of a multi-year title drought. Neither the 1971-72 nor the 1972-73 teams can be considered the best ever individually, but they had two of the best-ever domestic seasons in back-to-back seasons and then went on to win three successive European Cups while providing the majority of a Germany squad that won Euro 1972 and the 1974 World Cup.
Over the course of many seasons, the Bayern of the early 1970s remains the best and most memorable team in Bundesliga history. Still, this current Bayern side—like the German national team it largely supports—stands on the verge of unprecedented glory. A treble this season is entirely within reach and could be the start of a new dynasty—perhaps one even greater than that which came 40 years ago.