Well, they’ve done it again, the unprecedented, unmatched and prodigious champions of Germany have won their fifth consecutive Bundesliga title. Despite the departure of arguably their greatest manager in the past decade, in Pep Guardiola, the Bavarians have still managed to keep up their high standards in the Bundesliga, thanks to new trainer Carlo Ancelotti.
After a great start to the season, the Bavarians didn’t quite have the greatest of Hinrunde, as they finished with 39 points before die winterpause, five points below their average of 44 points in the past four seasons. But their performance in the second half of the season was just phenomenal, which led them to the glory at the end.
When it’s about Bayern, the players are always burdened with high expectations, and this season was no different. The arrival of ‘knockout expert’ Carlo Ancelotti made Bayern fans believe in an almost certain manner, that they might finally lift the coveted Champions League this season, which has been eluding them for the past three years.
Fans hoped for a treble and why not? Bayern’s squad is consistently filled with world class players in every aspect of the game, from Manuel Neuer to Robert Lewandowski.
Bayern also spent a handsome 70 million euros on summer transfer window. Mats Hummels came from rivals Borussia Dortmund to re-address Bayern’s defensive futility at the back while Portuguese whizkid Renato Sanches arrived from Benfica for a fee of 35 million euros each.
Winning the Bundesliga for the fifth consecutive time was a special moment for the Bavarians. Not just because it was one of Bundesliga’s greatest feats in the history but also a fitting tribute to two of the legends of the game in the shape of Philip Lahm and Xabi Alonso.
There were some other great matches throughout the course of the season which also boosted the team morale of the reigning world champions such as the 8:0 battering of Hamburg, or the 4:1 victory over Borussia Dortmund. In the final away matchday, Bayern also staged an extraordinary comeback against RB Leipzig to win the game 5:4 despite trailing the Bulls by a two-goal deficit for most period of the game. Three late goals at the end ensured Bayern with a classic comeback triumph over the second-placed Bundesliga side.
Has to be the Semi Final clash against Real Madrid. When Bayern failed to keep the European champions at bay, in their home leg, the odds were on Zinedine Zidane’s men to go through to the final. But an impressive performance from the German champions followed, and it almost caught Real by surprise. However, some awful referring cost them the game, as two of Ronaldo’s goal proved to be offside. It was definitely Bayern’s worst moment of the 2016/17 season.
The semi-final defeat against Borussia Dortmund also made a big impact on Bayern’s season as they managed only ‘one’ trophy by the end of the season.
Who else but Thiago Alcantara? The former Barcelona midfielder has been a wizard for Bayern this season and probably been the best player in the Bundesliga as well. Along with the help of fellow world class midfielders such as Arturo Vidal or Xabi Alonso, Thiago bossed the midfield throughout the season. He was also incredibly consistent and performed even in the worst games for the Bavarians. He led the club in passing (97 passes completed per game) with a passing accuracy of 91% with an astounding total of 2,566 passes. Moreover, the 25-year-old managed five assists and created two chances per game, which is just phenomenal.
His defensive contribution has also been a key for the German champions. Thiago averages five defensive actions per game, more than any other Bayern player. Oh! there’s more, Thiago also completed the most interceptions in the league this season with 129. So it definitely is no brainer to pick the best player for Bayern this season. The fans should enjoy what the 25-year-old midfielder offers on the table while it lasts because only a few months ago, Barcelona were keen to bring him back to his former club but a strong demand for 90m euros cut the deal off.
Flop of the season
It has to be Renato Sanches, the highly rated Portuguese midfielder, who came into the limelight after an impressive Euro 2016 campaign, where he helped his nation win the Cup, signed with Bayern for a massive fee of 35 million euros, the most Bayern spent on any teenager.
However, Renato started to find life difficult under Carlo Ancelotti as he was forced to play in unfamiliar positions and his first team opportunities were limited due to the star-studded Bayern midfield, consisting the likes of Thiago, Xabi Alonso and Vidal. The 18-year-old started only nine games for Bayern and seventeen overall, most of which came as a substitute.
He clearly failed to live up to his billing, in fact, Bayern are willing to sell the Portuguese midfielder if the right offer comes through.
It’s time to grade the season then!
I’d give Bayern a B+ rating just because they failed to meet the expectations and were also very topsy-turvy throughout the season. It wasn’t the same fluent Bayern as we saw under Pep Guardiola. The Champions needed a lot of last ditch goals and had to work a lot harder to collect points, even against teams like Hamburg.
But at the end, they somehow managed to keep their trend of owning the German league intact and it seems as if that trend is going to last for a few more years to come.
Anas Ali Molla
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