After having been knocked out of the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals by Villareal on Tuesday night in one of the shocks of the season, many have jumped the gun in summarising Bayern Munich’s 2021/22 season as a catastrophe.
While the disappointment of last night’s aggregate defeat prevails, it would be still be an exaggeration to say that the year has been all bad for the Bavarians.
It is, of course, undeniable that losing to a relatively small club like Villareal in the quarter final of the Champions League is below the expectations of a team like Bayern (the same can also be said for their second-round exit in the German Cup).
But that should not automatically mean that falling short of those lofty goals is a complete failure.
The team is closing in on its tenth consecutive Bundesliga crown- finding themselves 9 points clear of Borussia Dortmund at the time of writing. Despite what fans and critics, especially those outside of Germany may say, this is nothing to scoff at!
Before this decade of Bavarian dominance, no team has managed to win that league more than three times on the bounce. In the two seasons before the league title winning streak began, Bayern went completely trophyless.
Last year, Robert Lewandowski broke the all time, single season scoring record of 40 goals, which the late great Gerd Müller had set back in 1972. Most experts never expected that record to fall, especially considering the Bundesliga only has 18 teams and thus a mere 34 matchdays.
This year, the Polish standout talisman is on pace to break his own record from last season of 41 goals.
These are major accomplishments without a doubt. To those who claim that the competition in the Bundesliga is very weak, one only has to point to the fact that it is a league that has produced vast world class talent.
The last three Champions League-winning coaches in Jürgen Klopp, Hansi Flick and Thomas Tuchel all started in the German league. The same is true for the scorer of the winning goal of last year’s UCL final, Kai Havertz.
Not to mention other world class talent such as Kevin De Bruyne, Heung Min Son, İlkay Gündoğan, Roberto Firmino, and many more, used to ply their trade in the division.
While it is certainly true that the Bundesliga lacks the glamor of the other European top leagues, that has mostly to do with the fact that the league’s “50+1” rule prohibits wealthy oligarchs from becoming team owners like at PSG, Manchester City, and- more recently- Newcastle United.
Bayern Munich has been crowned champions of Europe six times (two of which came in the last ten years. That is six more times than either PSG, or Manchester City, both of whom have much greater sums of cash available to them than the Bavarians do.
Aside from that, when we consider that the club leadership of President Herbert Hainer, CEO Oliver Kahn and sporting director Hasan Salihamidžić are all still relatively new at their jobs, (as is coach Julian Nagelsmann), then falling somewhat short of expectations is not the drama that some make it out to be.
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