Bayern eye their second treble

Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick is tossed in the air by his players after they won the German Cup final against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.
Bayern Munich coach Hansi Flick is tossed in the air by his players after they won the German Cup final against Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Champions League will be the crowning glory for the German league and Cup winners

BERLIN • In a year disrupted by the coronavirus, Bayern Munich's domination of football honours in Germany has meant little has changed.

Another month, another title. The first weekend of July brought with it another trophy to win, which Bayern duly did, dispatching Bayer Leverkusen 4-2 in the German Cup final, less than three weeks after they sealed their eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

Poland striker Robert Lewandowski bolstered his season's tally to 51 - the most in Europe - with a second-half double in Berlin, adding to Serge Gnabry's goal and David Alaba's opener.

Bayern will now turn their attention to next month's Champions League, with coach Hansi Flick referring to the top-flight title - a record 30th - as a mere "first step" to completing their season's targets. The Bayern coach is unwilling to look beyond the round of 16, despite holding a 3-0 lead over Chelsea after the first leg.

"Of course, there is also the Champions League," the German told Sky Sports. "It is clear it cannot be planned. It will be difficult enough to come through the game against Chelsea first."

He could be forgiven for being mindful of his team's fitness, given the revamped format of the Champions League when it resumes.

All remaining games will be played in Lisbon over 16 days from Aug 7, meaning Bayern will be out of action for more than a month and missing match fitness while teams in England, Italy and Spain complete their domestic seasons.

All unplayed ties will also be completed in one match, doing away with the usual home and away legs.

Flick thinks his team could take advantage of the competition's altered format. Citing his experience winning the World Cup with Germany as Joachim Low's assistant in 2014, the 55-year-old said: "I'm very familiar with a tournament mode. That's why I think we can do well. Form on the day will be decisive."

Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also confident the club can secure a repeat of the treble they won in 2013.

"We'll have a short break now and then we'll make sure we are in top form and try to win the treble," he said. "We have all seen in the last few weeks how motivated and hungry Bayern Munich are."

Flick, who has made the most successful start as a coach for Bayern by winning 29 of his first 32 games after taking over in November, also sees benefits in the delay.

"The break could be an advantage," he said. "One or two players will be back again from injury, (they) could also play a role for us.

"Fundamentally, we have the quality in our training sessions, which is decisive."

The German champions' European credentials have been backed by another German abroad.

Quizzed on his thoughts on his team's successors, Jurgen Klopp, manager of last season's European champions Liverpool, is looking no further than his two greatest rivals, having also battled with Bayern as coach of Borussia Dortmund.

He said: "For me, the two big favourites left in the competition are Bayern and Man City. That would be an interesting game.

"I don't know exactly if it could happen, if they will meet in the semi-final or whatever. They are obviously the two favourites."

City hold a 2-1 lead over Spain's Real Madrid in their last-16 tie.

Flick also has the personnel to spearhead his team in Europe. Lewandowski is the Champions League's leading scorer with 11 goals and his coach believes he is a Ballon d'Or candidate.

"When you see that he has scored 34 times in the league, it's quite enough to make you think that a player from the Bundesliga could be World Footballer of the Year," Flick said, as the Pole won the Golden Boot last weekend for the fifth time.

One player who could add intensity to Bayern's training sessions is Leroy Sane, whose €49 million (S$76.8 million) move from City was confirmed on Friday.

The German winger, 24, will not be eligible to play for his new employers in Lisbon. But he may yet witness his new captain Neuer lifting his third trophy of the season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 06, 2020, with the headline 'Bayern eye their second treble'. Print Edition | Subscribe