5 Reasons Why Bayern Munich Will Be Record-Breaking Bundesliga Champions
Well here we are: March 23 and what we have on our hands is the possibility of Bayern Munich winning the Bundesliga title on Tuesday against Hertha Berlin to become the first team to win the Old Salad Bowl in March.
But as we consider the possibility of Berlin being overrun with white and red celebrations as the Bavarian crowds take to the city to celebrate Bayern's 24th Bundesliga title in 51 seasons of the league's existence, we should take a moment to consider how this side managed such a feat in record-breaking time.
Pep Guardiola and his side will undoubtedly go into the midweek match with the same cool air of confidence and professionalism that has seen them steamroll all before them in the league this season, but there have been certain factors that have ruled in their favour.
Here are five reasons why Bayern are about to become the Bundesliga's champions in record-breaking time.
Plenty of Options
What's first and foremost about this impressive team and what it has accomplished this season is of course the sheer strength in depth that has carried them throughout the campaign.
Whether it be the defence, in which Rafinha has regularly come in at right-back in Philipp Lahm's absence, as too have Daniel van Buyten and Javi Martinez for the centre-back pairing Dante and Jerome Boateng, or the midfield that has seen dozens of alternating formations and up to 10 separate players fighting over just five spaces in the first 11, Bayern have managed to find cover for every position.
As Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke have struggled at points throughout the year as key players have stumbled off the pitch injured, Bayern have marched on without a single strain in their step. Players may win matches, but full squads win championships.
Bayern Munich wouldn't have been poised to win the Bundesliga if it wasn't for Guardiola, right?
Well, when we consider just how well Jupp Heynckes did last season and the overall competitiveness of the league this season, that may not be the easiest thing in the world to prove, yet Guardiola certainly deserves all the credit when it comes to the style and manner of such a feat.
Bayern may have always looked like champions, despite whoever coached the first team this season, but they wouldn't be so close to victory at such a record-breaking pace without the former Barcelona coach.
The Bavarian side may have always looked unstoppable, but Guardiola has undoubtedly made them invincible.
Another high-profile figure who arrived at the club last season and has gone on to offer just as much as anyone else is none other than former Dortmund playmaker Mario Goetze.
Despite a rugged start to life in Munich with an injury that essentially ruled him out of the first seven Bundesliga rounds, Goetze has amassed 10 goals and nine assists in just 30 games so far this season for his club. Three of those goals have come in just seven Champions League games.
The young Germany prodigy has effectively walked into the Bavarian side and made it his own, just as he had done so at Dortmund from such a young age. Many suspected that this Euro-conquering side couldn't get better after last season, yet Goetze stands as a perfect reason as to how they've done exactly that. The £32 million price tag now looks like an absolute bargain.
Borussia Dortmund's Capitulation
Of course the other aspect of Goetze's signing last summer was the fact that such a move directly affected Bayern's closest rivals, Dortmund.
Although Jurgen Klopp's side invested in some excellent talent over the summer, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang both joining through big-money deals, the squad simply didn't click like it did last season and as such have dropped far too many points in the title race.
Yet many Dortmund fans will point to the long list of injuries that no club in the world could have foreseen ahead of this season, with the likes of first-team regulars such as Neven Subotic, Ilkay Gundogan and Jakub Blaszczykowski all missing large chunks of the Bundesliga campaign.
Whatever the reason, Klopp's side simply haven't been able to play their usual game and unfortunately had to give up any prospects of matching Bayern rather early on in the season, leaving second-rate sides such as Leverkusen to take up the task.
Perhaps, next season we'll see a Dortmund team that can truly test this dominant Bayern side.
Arjen Robben's Continued Excellence
Arjen Robben, who'd have thought it, eh?
OK, many of you may have always known that Robben was always going to play a large part in any success Bayern amounted to this season, but for most of us, the concept of Robben staying on over the summer and taking part in a new Guardiola regime seemed incredibly unlikely.
Yet, as was announced last week, the Dutch international has truly played out of his skin this season, with 18 goals and 13 assists in just 32 games for Bayern this season, and as such has been rewarded with a new contract that will keep him at the club until 2017.
Robben, more than most, has truly thrived under the new formation and tactics that Guardiola has brought to the club, and at 30 years of age, we are now beginning to see the very best of the right-winger. He's one of the best in the world at what he does and is one of the key reasons for this record-breaking season.
Stats via Transfermarkt.co.uk unless otherwise noted.