Before international distractions provided such an ill-timed intervention, Bayern Munich smashed a Bundesliga record by going 37 consecutive games unbeaten. The Bavarians surpassed Hamburg’s (HSV) record set in the 1982-83 season with a routine 3-0 derby win over Augsburg, Bayern’s sixth consecutive win in all competitions.
Bayern’s last domestic defeat stretches way back to Sunday 28th October 2012, a crisp autumnal day at the Allianz Arena against Bayer 04 Leverkusen. The magical 37 game run encompasses the first 12 games of the ‘new Messiah’ Pep Guardiola’s tenure and, yes, your maths is sound, the remaining 25 from treble-winning ex-Bayern maestro Jupp Heynckes’ reign (21 wins, 4 draws). Those stalemates came against Borussia Dortmund twice (a certain Mario Götze scored for Dortmund and likely future Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski had the good grace to miss a penalty); Nuremberg rallied after an uncharacteristic Manuel Neuer error and Mönchengladbach – in a rare game in which Bayern failed to win after falling behind.
In truth, the proud unbeaten Bundesliga record was only really in jeopardy in the final outing of the 2012/13 season in Mönchengladbach. At this juncture, Bayern’s sights were already focussed on the ‘El Teutonico’ Champions League final against Dortmund at Wembley. Bayern twice found themselves two goals (0-2, 1-3) in arrears against ‘The Foals’, but roared back to win a rip-roaring seven goal thriller 4-3 – reducing Heynckes to tears in the post-match press conference as the retiring coach returned to his roots.
Under Guardiola, Bayern haven’t really even looked like losing, with a near-perfect 10-2-0 record – conceding unnecessary equalisers in Freiburg and Leverkusen in games they should have been out of sight in by half-time. Most pundits assumed that it would be impossible for Guardiola to outdo Heynckes’ historic achievements. However, Guardiola has garnered one more point than Heynckes at the equivalent stage, with 32 points after 12 games. And all this, it goes without saying, whilst the ‘Bayern Bandwagon’ has kept on rolling on all fronts, with nine straight victories in the Champions League (equalling Barcelona’s record in 2002/3) and eight straight wins in the German (DFB) Cup.
Guardiola has already rotated, putting out 19 different formations in his virgin season in German football. Bayern DoF Matthias Sammer is not slow in coming forward when he spots Bayern in the comfort zone but I am fond of the analogy “A good horse only jumps as high as he has to” and I think it is apt to compare this Bayern side with a star thoroughbred. Arguably the highest profile game this season was in Manchester and Bayern put in a sumptuous performance to arrest the Citizens in Europe’s elite club competition. A similarly outstanding performance soon followed away to Schalke as Bayern set the benchmark for life under Pep.
Minnows Mainz had the temerity to take a 1-0 half-time lead in Munich but, when popped the question, Bayern are able to raise their game with ease. Prompted by the introduction of €37m new boy Götze at the interval, Bayern turned the game on its head in a matter of minutes, eventually coasting to a 4-1 victory.
The record German champions were also misfiring against the likes of Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin but Bayern got the job done after falling behind. As Tiger Woods put it when asked about winning every golf title under the sun, “it’s all about the W”. Rest assured, there’s still plenty more to come from this Bayern side.
Quite patently, the hardest test of their unbeaten record looms in Dortmund’s cauldron on Saturday evening against a side still smarting from straight defeats against Arsenal and Wolfsburg. But don’t be surprised if the occasion brings out the best in Bayern.
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