Bayern Munich is five years removed from its record-smashing, treble-winning season in 2012-13. It won the Bundesliga by the widest margin in history that season, defeated rival Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final and clipped VfB Stuttgart in the DFB-Pokal final to become the first German club to complete the feat.
It is elite company befitting what is a daunting task: domestic dominance combined with conquering clubs on the continent. Barcelona is the only club to win the treble twice, and Real Madrid for all its domestic and European success, has yet to do it.
Bayern is a heavy favorite to win a record sixth-straight Bundesliga title this season, its 27th overall. The likelihood of Bayern lifting the DFB-Pokal for the 19th time is better than average as well.
What about another treble? Is that not realistic for Bayern this season and every season? Of course it is, in theory. With just eight all-time treble winners, however, collecting three trophies across three different competitions may be hypothetically possible, but year-to-year evidence shows it is statistically improbable.
Thomas Müller once said, “... nothing is impossible. We’re annoyed anytime we don’t win.” Muller sounds like a player whose expectations are to win a treble. This season and every season.
As Bayern starts the chase for its second treble in five years, let’s compare the club to Barcelona, which won its two trebles six years apart, by exploring the average age and age ranges of the respective squads.
Is age really just a number?
There are eight players in the current Bayern squad who were part of the treble-winning side five years ago: Franck Ribéry, Arjen Robben, Manuel Neuer, Rafinha, Javi Martínez, Jérôme Boateng, David Alaba and Müller. Ribéry (34) and Robben (33) are the oldest players on this year’s team, and they will each be a year older early in 2018. It’s not a cause for concern though. The average age of this year’s squad is 24.8 years old. The retirements of Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso means that Joshua Kimmich (22) and Bundesliga-record signing Corentin Tolisso (23) will inject youth into Carlo Ancelotti’s starting XI.
Bayern has done a good job of keeping the average age and age ranges of the squad down over the last five years.
- Average age of 2012-13 squad at start of season: 24.7 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (4); 20-29 (19); 19 and under (5)
- Average age of 2017-18 squad at start of season: 24.8 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (5); 20-29 (16); 19 and under (7)
By the end of the 2012-13 season, Bayern’s squad aged as it normally would over the course of 10 months. If Bayern does not add a veteran player to the squad before the end of the summer transfer window or during the winter transfer window this season, this team will follow a similar aging pattern.
- Average age of 2012-13 Bayern squad at end of season: 25.5 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (5); 20-29 (18); 19 and under (5)
- Average age of 2017-18 Bayern squad at potential end of season: 25.5 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (5); 20-29 (20); 19 and under (3)
The average ages and age ranges for Bayern’s squads five years apart, on their own, offer limited insight. When they are compared to Barcelona’s average ages and age ranges for its treble-winning teams in the 2008-09 and 2014-15 seasons they are remarkable in both similarity and time frame.
- Average age of 2008-09 Barcelona squad at start of season: 24.7 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (4); 20-29 (24); 19 and under (6)
- Average age of 2014-15 Barcelona squad at start of season: 24.8 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (6); 20-29 (18); 19 and under (7)
Barcelona’s squad age was constant over each of its treble-winning campaigns.
- Average age of 2008-09 Barcelona squad at end of season: 25.5 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (7); 20-29 (22); 19 and under (5)
- Average age of 2014-15 Barcelona squad at end of season: 25.5 years old
- Age ranges of players: 30-39 (7); 20-29 (20); 19 and under (4)
Pundits and fans will have their say about the squad makeup for Bayern this season, but the club has managed to get younger, maintain veteran player contributions and be in a realistic position to match Barcelona as the only European clubs to win the treble twice.