By Preye Campbell
Bayern Munich picked up only their fourth trophy of the year on Thursday night after defeating Sevilla, and one thing seems pretty obvious; it is their time.
Currently, in world football, no team is as ruthless as this Bayern Munich side; a side that started the 2019/2020 season in utter disarray by then-head coach Niko Kovac, and then finished that same season as the apex predators.
Thursday showed a below-usual Bayern side, as the scoreline reflected. Maybe another hands down thrashing was expected as it has come to be of Bayern these days (ask Barcelona for the full gist). They even had to come back from a goal down as Sevilla took the game to them in Budapest, but at the end of the day, there is only one Bayern Munich.
This is not the first time Bayern Munich will be sweeping all of Europe; they did the same in 2013 with coach Jupp Heynckes. But there is this feeling that this Bayern team could have only itself as a competitor for a while.
An evidence of that fact is the state of some of the other big clubs around them. Of all big European clubs, Bayern Munich are the best.
England has Liverpool and Manchester City, and while Jurgen Klopp’s side may be a match for the Bavarians, there are doubts as to what they can do, should they face another Atletico Madridesque side before they meet Bayern. Except they play Bayern in the group stages or early in the knockout stages, say the Round-of-16, they just may not meet Bayern at all.
Pep Guardiola on the other hand, has twice dominated England, but still cannot banish his European misery. The former manager last won Europe’s most coveted trophy with Barcelona in 2011 and has come up short in the semi-finals and quarter-finals since then. Last time’s quarter-final exit at the hands of Lyon was very disappointing and the Champions League trophy might be just that one trophy he may not get to lift at the Etihad.
In Spain, Barcelona and Real Madrid have now become shadows of what they once were in the last two seasons. Since selling Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus in the summer of 2018, Madrid have not been to the final of a trophy they have won more times than any other club. Indeed, Los Blancos won the trophy four times in the space of five years between 2014 -2018. The last two campaigns saw the reigning La Liga champions exit the Champions League in horrendous fashion; losing out in the Round-of-16 stage, first to a young Ajax side in 2019 and then losing out to Manchester City this year.
Barcelona are in the middle of a footballing crisis themselves. They last won the Champions League in 2015 and presently do not look like a side capable of winning it, as they could not even win any domestic title last season. The Blaugranas’ Champions League headlines for the past five seasons have been laced with shocking losses, the latest being an 8-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern in the quarter-final.
Italy’s likeliest Champions League representative is Juventus. The league leaders are yet to win the Champions League in their rich history and last got to the final in 2017. When they signed Cristiano Ronaldo in 2018, it seemed as though the five-time Ballon d’Or could be set to change the script; having won the trophy five times himself with Manchester United and Real Madrid. But a quarter-final defeat to Ajax in 2019 and a round-of-16 loss to Lyon means that the script still lingers. The disappointing result to Lyon propelled a change in the managerial dugout and it is safe to say that new coach Andrea Pirlo is on his discovery lane as he becomes the first-team manager for the first time in his coaching career. And with such a green coach, can Juventus possibly topple Bayern?
Paris Saint-Germain had a good outing last time out, ultimately losing out to champions Bayern. It is a team with stars and you could count on the likes of Neymar Jr and Kylian Mbappe to take the team very far again. In the end, just as we saw that night in Lisbon, quality matters, and they are no match for this mighty Bayern side. Actually, no club is, presently.
Bayern have started the new campaign in usual rampage fashion, thrashing Schalke 04 8-0 on the opening day of the Bundesliga. They have strengthened the squad with the arrival of Leroy Sane from Manchester City and the Germany international now forms part of a deadly Bayern attack that consists Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry, Thomas Muller and Kingsley Coman, giving us every right to be wary of this team. Just next week, is another opportunity to lift a trophy with the cup final clash with Borussia Dortmund.
As they say, nothing is certain in the game of football and rightly so, but then, nothing just might be uncertain about Bayern sweeping Europe again this season.