To the surprise of absolutely no one, Bayern Munich won a record-extending 25th Bundesliga title on Sunday after Wolfsburg, its closest challenger in Germany, lost 1-0 at Borussia Monchengladbach thanks to a last-minute goal from Max Kruse. The loss meant that Wolfsburg, now 15 points behind Bayern, could no longer mathematically catch up to the first-place club with four games remaining in the season.
Yawn, indeed. As the AP reports, Munich (the city) didn’t even bother to celebrate, because a third title in three years has been a foregone conclusion for coach Pep Guardiola & company for six months now -- practically ever since Borussia Dortmund made it clear that it wasn’t mounting a title challenge this year.
To completely honest, Off The Post hasn’t watched much Bundesliga this year. Maybe that’s because his TV provider no longer carries GolTV, but even if it did, he might not watch much, anyways, because the Bundesliga -- at least the title race -- has been boring for years now. Bayern has now romped to the title for a third straight season, and by the looks of things, there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.
Though the AP claims that the two teams that decided the title on Sunday represent the greatest threat to Bayern’s future dominance, OTP isn’t so sure. Wolfsburg may be backed by Volkswagen money, but it still has nowhere near the financial clout of Bayern Munich. Just how rich is this club? Its perennially consistent, record revenues have been so great that last fall the club was able to pay off its entire debt for the Allianz Arena, which opened in 2005, some 16 years early. That stadium cost $346 million, and it took less than 10 years to pay for.
With that kind of financial muscle, any club -- be it Wolfsburg, ‘Gladbach, the BVB, whatever -- that poses a threat, Bayern will simply carry on buying its rivals best talent just as it did to Dortmund during Jurgen Klopp’s heyday.
That said, to maintain its dominance, Bayern will likely have some rebuilding to do, and soon. As the AP points out, Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso, Franck Ribery, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Arjen Robben will all be on the wrong side of 30 by the beginning of next season. It may lose Guardiola soon, too, as the Spaniard has not yet indicated whether he plans to carry on beyond the expiration of his contract next season. If he doesn’t extend, that rebuilding process will likely be delayed until after he leaves.
As far as Guardiola’s decision goes, a lot could depend on what happens with the rest of this season. The DFB-Pokal (German Cup) semifinal is at the Allianz on Tuesday, and it’s against Klopp and the BVB. The following week is the first leg of the UEFA Champions League semifinal against Barcelona at the Camp Nou.
Guardiola, who won a domestic double with Bayern last season, is under a heap of pressure to win both competitions, and he knows it. As he said ahead of the 6-1 thrashing of FC Porto in the UCL quarterfinal second-leg: “It’s not enough to be champion here. It’s not enough to win the cup here. Only the treble is enough.”
Indeed, but, should he fail, he can at least earn the chance to see out his contract by winning another double. Of course, that’s not going to be easy: both Dortmund and Barcelona will have their knives out for his team given what its done to them in recent seasons—and the fact that this is Klopp’s last Der Klassiker will only add fuel to the fire. Win both, and Guardiola goes down in German history. Lose both, and he may be headed elsewhere this summer.