Bayern Munich: 4 European Teams Who Can Stop Bundesliga Giants Next Season
Bayern Munich crowned a memorable season by completing the treble on Saturday with a 3-2 victory over Stuttgart in the German Cup final.
The Bundesliga giants won every major title they competed for during 2012-13; the league title was captured in record time before they beat rivals Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final at Wembley. The DFB-Pokal victory therefore means outgoing boss Jupp Heynckes becomes the first manager to coach a German side to the treble, as he makes way for Pep Guardiola's imminent arrival.
Bayern were very much the best on the continent this season, only losing one match since October, but can they repeat the feat under their new boss next term? And perhaps more pertinently, exactly who can stop them?
They might have suffered a few bumps along the way over the second half of the season, but this is still the Barcelona team who conquered all before them only a couple of years ago.
There is every chance that Barça, having gotten over a season whereby their manager was in and out of the club with illness, will be far more consistent and reliable than they were from January onwards this season, and also less reliant on Leo Messi.
The signing of Neymar and other potential additions could well add more goals to an already very attack-minded side, and it would be folly to think that their tiki-taka approach can no longer yield major honours in the game—they have, after all, just won La Liga.
The other Spanish semifinalist of the Champions League was Real Madrid, also runners-up in La Liga.
They'll be under new management next season after the acrimonious departure of Jose Mourinho—and with rumours abound of treble-winning manager Jupp Heynckes headed to the Santiago Bernabeu, as per Marca, there is every reason to think that the capital side could go one better in either competition next term.
Real will also likely spend heavily in the transfer window to improve their squad this summer, making an already formidable side even better.
Real Madrid will definitely be one of the sides challenging Bayern for European glory next season.
On both a domestic and European scale, there is one German team who will be looking to equal and better Bayern: Borussia Dortmund, winners of the 2011 and 2012 Bundesliga titles and runners up this season in both league and Champions League.
Dortmund have an excellent squad and play terrific attacking football, but they lacked the depth in their squad to cope with Bayern on all fronts this season. The loss of Mario Gotze to their big rivals will hit them hard, but Dortmund will invest once more and aim to find further young stars who can push them on to even higher heights, while Marco Reus will have more expectation thrust upon him too.
Manager Jurgen Klopp has said he will rebuild the team, via BBC, and don't bet against him doing an exceptional job.
One final team who could be the one to stop the Bayern Munich juggernaut is Italian Serie A side Juventus.
Juve won the league at a canter but were utterly undone in Europe by Bayern, losing 4-0 on aggregate. Despite a tactically strong back line, a fantastic physical midfield and options in attack, Antonio Conte's side certainly lacked the real quality in the final third that Bayern had.
The manager recognises this and expects the club to help him improve the team in the transfer market to challenge for bigger honours, according to the BBC website:
A more nuanced interpretation of his comments would be that he is reminding Juventus that winning the Scudetto isn't enough. It was once, but it isn't anymore.
Juventus have a monopoly on the Italian title at present, with other teams rebuilding or significantly behind the level of the Turin side, but Europe presents another challenge for Conte and his side.
Juve might be an outside bet to topple Bayern, but Fernando Llorente will give them an excellent reference point up front. If they add further quality, it is not unreasonable to expect big things from Juventus.