Jupp Heynckes may have won the treble for Bayern last year, but Pep Guardiola wants to do it again and with the same style that made Barcelona famous.
May 25, 2013: this was the day when Bayern Munich announced to the world that they are ready to dominate European football in the coming years. Bayern won the Champions League beating arch rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-1 in the final and a week later went on to win the German Cup to complete the treble that included a ruthless triumph in the Bundesliga. Bayern finished a whopping 25 points ahead of a very good Borussia Dortmund team become the overwhelming league champions.
In 2012-13, Bayern lost just three of 53 matches in all competitions and dropped points on only eight occasions. When faced with some of the best competition on the continent, they excelled - beating the champions of Italy (Juventus) 4-0 over two legs and champions of Spain (Barcelona) 7-0 in both the legs combined. They became only the fourth team to win the treble after Manchester United (1999), Barcelona (2009) and Inter Milan (2010).
For years, Barcelona have been regarded as the best team - probably in the history of the game. They have turned on the style by showing the world how tiki-taka football is played. Jupp Heynckes may have won the treble for Bayern last year, but Pep Guardiola wants to do it again and with the same style that made Barcelona famous. Last night's match showed the fans across the world how lethal this German team can be playing the Barca tiki-taka.
Guardiola's Barcelona team was the best of its generation and won trophies year after year. But managing Bayern is a different ball game. Barcelona were Pep's boyhood club and he knew the system there. But things at Bayern will be different. He is learning the language and trying to learn the system as well. Now he has to change a team's gameplan and tactics in contrast to how they used to play. Tiki-taka has never been Bayern's style but Pep, in less than four months of time, has made them masters of one-touch play. The proof of it was given on Wednesday night when Bayern outclassed Manchester City at the Etihad 3-1 and showed a huge gulf in class, with 61 per cent possession to City's 39 and 13 attempts on target that made the City players look like school kids.
There is no doubt that this team currently has the best flank partnerships in the world (Robben and Ribery). In addition, they have a no-nonsense midfield core. When you see the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Javi Martinez, Toni Kroos, Mario Gotze, Xherdan Shaqiri and Thiago on the team sheet, any opposition will be worried. Bayern were not particularly convincing in start of the season with Pep not able to find a perfect man for the holding midfiled position. But then came the masterstroke by one of the best managers in the world - he picked up full-back Philip Lahm to fill that role and the German has done exceptionally well so far.
Not an obvious choice but Guardiola - who had coached the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi - said right-back Lahm is "the most intelligent player" he has ever coached. And from that day Pep's Bayern had played one of the most eye catching football domestically and in Europe. The team chemistry is formidable, and they help each other out. And it won't be a surprise if Bayern go on to become the first team to win Champions League twice in a row since the transition of the tournament.