How Bayern Munich Ranks Among European Football's All-Time Best Sides
On May 11, 1974, Gerd Muller scored the only goal of a 1-0 Bayern Munich win at home to Kickers Offenbach, securing the club’s fifth title with a game to spare. (This was back in the days when a win was still worth just two points instead of three.)
Six days later at Brussels’ Heysel Stadium, a pair of goals from Uli Hoeness bookended another Muller brace as Bayern won their first-ever European Cup, beating Atletico Madrid 4-0.
(The final had actually been replayed after a 0-0 stalemate at the same stadium on May 15, and in a bizarre scheduling quirk Bayern faced Borussia Monchengladbach the day after the replay to conclude the Bundesliga season and were hammered 5-0. Of course, they had already secured the championship.)
The league and European Cup double was an unprecedented accomplishment for the Bavaria side, who had lost 3-2 to Eintracht Frankfurt in the semifinals of the DfB Pokal a month earlier.
That was the closest Bayern would come to the treble until the spring of 2010, when after beating Schalke to the title and thumping Werder Bremen in the Pokal, they lost the Champions League final to Inter Milan in Madrid.
For Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and @beckenbauer to name this team as the greatest ever Bayern team says it all.— BayernFanBase (@BayernFanBase) June 1, 2013
With so many great teams in their history, it’s perhaps surprising it took Bayern until Saturday to do the treble—an achievement reached after a 3-2 win over Stuttgart at Berlin’s Olympiastadion. But in earning membership to an elite club that only includes Celtic, Ajax, PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United, Barcelona and Inter Milan, they have earned a place in the discussion about the best club sides to have ever graced European football.
In fact, they might just be at the top of the pile.
Having finished a whopping 25 points ahead of a very good Borussia Dortmund team in the Bundesliga, their advantage at the top of the table was more substantial than the previous four treble winners combined. They also set themselves apart by both establishing a new Bundesliga points record and winning the title in record time—with six matches to spare.
Barcelona and PSV Eindhoven managed to finish nine points clear above their closest challengers in their title-winning seasons, and Ajax wound up eight points better than Feyenoord in 1972.
But Celtic only topped Rangers by three points in 1967; Inter Milan edged Roma to the Scudetto by two points in 2010 and it took Manchester United until the final match of the season in 1999 to ensure they finished above Arsenal. Even then, they had to overturn 1-0 deficit against Tottenham Hotspur before celebrations commenced.
Bayern's season is officially perfect: they beat Stuttgart 3-2 to complete treble of Bundesliga, CL & DFB Pokal. Much to live up to for Pep.— Ben Hayward (@bghayward) June 1, 2013
What this Bayern side has accomplished doesn’t in any way minimize the achievements of their fellow treble winners, but it most certainly puts what they have done these last few months into perspective.
In 2012-13, Bayern Munich lost just three of 53 matches in all competitions and dropped points on only eight occasions. And when faced with some of the best competition on the continent, they excelled—beating the champions of Italy (Juventus) and Spain (Barcelona) by a combined score of 11-0
That, more than anything else, should demonstrate just how good Bayern were this past season. One can only imagine the plaudits that will come their way should they manage to repeat the feat a year from now.
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