Comparing Bayern Munich and Barcelona’s record-breaking Champions League runs

Yet another box is ticked for the mighty Rekordmeisters.  The list of Jupp Heynckes’ accomplishments with his 2012-13 incarnation of Bayern Munich is massive– not only are they the first German team to win the illustrious, elusive treble– but it was done in clinical, devastating style; taking down records left and right along the way.

Most points at the end of a Bundesliga season?  Thanks, Dortmund!  Most games won in a single season?  Again, thank you, BvB.  Too kind.  Fewest games lost in a single season?  Oh, it’s us again.  However, we’ll be ‘aving that!

However glory-filled last season’s team was, this year’s Bayern Munich, with Pep Guardiola at the helm, has picked up where they left off– scarcely missing a beat.  Through Matchday 13, die Roten are squarely on top of the Bundesliga table with 11 wins and two draws, and firing on all cylinders in Champions League competition– the only team to have a perfect 15 points with one match day remaining.

But, there was an elusive record still out there for the taking:  Nine consecutive wins in Champions League competition owned by the 2002-3 Barcelona squad.  Then Barcelona and future Bayern trainer, the testy, arrogant (and much svelter!) Louis van Gaal prowled (scowled?) the touchline with a fabulous team starring Luis Enrique, Frank de Boer, Patrick Kluivert along with future stars Carles Puyol and Xavi.

While Barcelona had to qualify at the last stage– overturning Legia Warsaw 3-0 at home, and 0-1 away– what came next was remarkable.  In those days (like it was so long ago!) there were two group stages, and their winning run started on Matchday 1.

Barcelona’s nine-match streak:

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 1 – 18.9.02.  Barcelona 3-2 Club Brugge.  Goals by Enrique (5′), Mendieta (40′), Saviola (43′) / Simmons (22’P), Englebert (85′).

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 2 – 24.09.02.  Galatasaray 0-2 Barcelona.  Goals by Kluivert (27′), Enrique (59′).

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 3 – 01.10.02.  Lokomotiv Moscow 1-3 Barcelona.   Goals by:  Obiorah (56′) / Kluivert  (28′),  Saviola (32′, 49′).

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 4 – 23.10.02.  Barcelona 1-0 Lokomotiv Moscow.  Goals by:  de Boer (76′).

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 5 – 29.10.02.  Club Brugge 0-1 Barcelona.  Goals by:  Riquelme (64′).

Group Stage 1 – Matchday 6 – 13.11.2002.  Barcelona 3-1 Galatasaray.  Goals by:  Dani Garcia (10′), Gerard (44′), Geovanni (66′).

So far, so good, right?  A “Perfect Six” said UEFA as Barcelona racked up a tidy 13 goals, with a paltry four against, as they entered the second group stage.

Group Stage 2 – Matchday 1 – 27.11.02.  Bayer Leverkusen 1-2 Barcelona.  Goals by:  Berbatov (39′) / Saviola (48′), Overmars (88′).

Group Stage 2 – Matchday 2 – 11.12.02.  Barcelona 3-1 Newcastle United.  Goals by:  Dani Garcia (7′), Kluivert (35′), Motta (58′) / Ameobi (24′).

Group Stage 2 – Matchday 3 – 18.02.02.  Barcelona 3-0 Inter Milan.  Goals by:  Saviola (7′), Cocu (29′), Kluivert (67′).

But, that’s where it would all end.  (And just as a side note, I squealed scrolling through match results:  “Oh my god!  ‘Memba him?!”)  The return leg on 26.02.02 in Milan saw Barcelona’s streak come to a close drawing 0-0 in a somewhat testy affair.  However, they would end up with 21 goals for and six against, and straight in to the record books.

While Bayern Munich, in that same year, would go on to score a domestic double– after suffering a Champions League hangover the season before– their Group Stage 1 matches were disastrous; only garnering two points out of six fixtures.  And the season, despite domestic success, was considered to be a slight failure by some.  So very lofty are Bayern’s standards!

Fast-forward to 2012’s humiliating Champions League final defeat by Chelsea in the Allianz Arena:  Jupp Heynckes and Bayern Munich had a point to prove; with the 2012-13 season starting brightly on all fronts.  A shock defeat at home to Leverkusen in October would signal the last time the team lost a competitive Bundesliga match.  Yep.  Up until this day.  But, with new signings Mario Mandzukic, Javi Martinez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Dante and returnee Claudio Pizarro, the team pulled up their collective big-boy pants and moved on.

While they didn’t exactly breeze through the group stage– a loss at BATE Borisov and a draw at Valencia come to mind–  Bayern still managed to top their group on goal differential.  After a comprehensive victory over their first knockout phase foes, Arsenal, at the Emirates 1-3, a funny thing happened on their return leg at the Allianz Arena:  Bayern nearly blew it.  Complacent and wasteful against a bright Gunners side, Munich only squeaked through on away goals.

Thomas Müller would speak to after:  “Maybe it’s not such a bad thing to experience a negative result and still be in the next round. It gives everyone the chance to look at themselves and the team as a whole again.”

Whatever philosophizing Heynckes and his boys did?  It worked.  And then the magic started to happen.  The record began…

Bayern Munich’s ten match streak:

Quarterfinal First Leg – 02.04.13.  Bayern Munich 2-0 Juventus.  Goals by:  Alaba (1′), Mueller (63′).

Quarterfinal Second Leg – 10.04.13.  Juventus 0-2 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Mandzukic (64′), Pizarro (90′).

Alaba’s shock goal less than a minute in to the first leg set the tone over the two matches.  Immediately, Juventus were on their heels and had no response, other than overtly physical (Cheillini, I’m looking at you!), to stem the patient Bayern tide.  This was the point where I really started to believe Bayern could win the whole damn thing.

Semifinal First Leg – 23.04.13.  Bayern Munich 4-0 Barcelona.  Goals by:  Mueller (25′, 82′), Gomez (49′), Robben (73′).

Semifinal Second Leg – 01.05.13.  Barcelona 0-3 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Robben (49′), Pique (72′ OG), Mueller (76′).

While “newcomers” Borussia Dortmund were busy gathering “oohs-and-ahhs” for their wonderful play over Real Madrid, Bayern Munich was damaging an institution.  And I could scarcely believe it!  It’s a shame that Lionel Messi wasn’t fully fit– although Bayern still would’ve gone through, albeit without the superlative scoreline.

My favorite moments?  The body check by Mueller.  And the Pique own goal.

Champions League Final – 25.05.13.  Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Gundogan (68’P) / Mandzukic (60′), Robben (89′).

Insert smiley emoticon here.  It’s probably the best moment of my life.

In the 2013-14 Champions League season, Guardiola has kept up the winning tradition…

Group Stage Matchday 1 – 17.09.13.  Bayern Munich 3-0 CSKA Moscow.  Goals by:  Alaba (4′), Mandzukic (41′), Robben (68′).

Group Stage Matchday 2 – 02.10.13.  Manchester City 1-3 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Negredo (79′) / Ribery (7′), Mueller (56′), Robben (59′).

This is the match that I stopped doubting Guardiola.  A master-class footballing clinic against one of England’s best sides.  Utter, gleeful domination.

Group Stage Matchday 3 – 23.10.13.  Bayern Munich 5-0 Viktoria Plzen.  Goals by:  Ribery (25’P, 61′), Alaba (37′), Schweinsteiger (64′), Goetze (90′).

I was in the Allianz for this one, and it was kings against boys.  Bayern just absolutely had their way with Plzen, as I would chuckle through the entire match.  This score could have easily been 12-0, although, Plzen would redeem themselves the next round…

Group Stage Matchday 4 – 05.11.13.  Viktoria Plzen 0-1 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Mandzukic (65′).

Group Stage Matchday 5 – 27.11.13.  CSKA Moscow 1-3 Bayern Munich.  Goals by:  Honda (61’P) / Robben (17′), Goetze (56’), Mueller (65’P).

While the match at Plzen was just a relief to walk away with a victory– equalizing Barcelona’s record– the match in Moscow was fraught with “what-if’s” for me.  I was fully in favor of abandoning the match– and the record– if any racist behavior was shown to Bayern Munich’s black players.  But, thankfully, that came to naught.  And the record is Bayern’s.

28 goals for AND THREE GOALS AGAINST.  I didn’t even realize it was that good…  Not to take away Barcelona’s achievement, but when you look at the scores– and the competition– you might begin to think that this Bayern Munich squad just might be something else.

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Susie Schaaf

Susie Schaaf first fell in love with football watching Gerd Mueller play for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers. She has written extensively about the DFB and Bayern Munich, formerly for ESPN FC and now with FC Bayern Central. She co-hosts @Rekord_Pod, as well as speaking on SiriusXM FC and BBC World Service. In her free time she travels, pours a drink or two, and watches more football. The girl that kissed Gerd's Golden Boot can be found on Twitter @fussballsusie.

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