Bayern Munich have won the 2017-18 Bundesliga championship. It’s the club’s sixth in a row, extending their current Bundesliga record, and there appears to be no end in sight to the domination of the mighty Bavarians.
Of course, Bayern can’t mathematically win the championship at this time. That’s probably a couple of months away from happening. There are still fifteen matches in the league to play; however, it’s hard to see this Bayern team blowing a sixteen point lead and failing to win the title.
Still, Bayern’s biggest enemy this season will be one of the same enemies that has plagued them in recent seasons. I know your mind immediately went to “the injury bug”, but that’s not where we’re going. The thing that Jupp Heynckes must keep his players focused on avoiding over the next four months is the dreaded “C” word.
When you’re so many points ahead in the table, staying focused day in and day out in Bundesliga play is difficult. Barring something catastrophic happening, Bayern will cruise to another championship. Bayern has also already eliminated both RB Leipzig and Borussia Dortmund from the DFB Pokal, so the Bavarians will be the favorites to win another one of those as well. That leaves the main focus, per usual, as the UEFA Champions League.
Bayern won the Bundesliga by a staggering 25 points during the triple season of 2012-13. That season, however, had the motivational factor of the previous year’s failure of finishing as runners-up in the Bundesliga, DFB Pokal, and Champions League. That failure included a stunning loss in the Allianz Arena to Chelsea in the Champions League Final. Oh! And, you had a group of players that loved their retiring coach and wanted to send him out on the high note of 2012-13.
There’s no replicating that this season, and that’s ok!
New motivation for a new team
The club has spent the last two seasons restructuring the depth of the squad. The additions of Mats Hummels, Sandro Wagner, Niklas Süle, James Rodriguez, Sebastian Rudy, and Corentin Tolisso have given Bayern a boastful amount of depth for any injury problems that come their way. While not all of those players will compete for a starting position, all have shown that they’re up to the challenge if called upon.
Heynckes’s other big task for the remainder of the season is to keep Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery fresh but still in form. Despite turning 34 and 35 respectively before the season ends, both players have proven time and time again that they still have what it takes to compete at an elite level. With Kingsley Coman nipping at their heels, neither player can relax and believe that their position is a comfortable one.
There’s also the curious case of James Rodriguez. The Colombian has more than proven his worth to the team over the course of the season. With Thiago Alcantara out, James has proven he can drop into an advanced midfield role behind the strikers and provide an attacking spark via pinpoint passes. However, against an opponent where Bayern will need to put another body in midfield, James still needs Bundesliga matches to prove his worth to Heynckes for one of the winger positions. As said earlier, Robben and Ribery aren’t giving away those spots. Other players are going to have to pry them from their cold, dead hands.
Another Heynckes Farewell?
Another motivating factor can be, quite simply, another farewell for Heynckes. The 72 year old manager seems set on retiring again at the end of the season and doesn’t appear open to any overtures from the club to extend his stay.
The players have been outspoken in their appreciation for what Heynckes means to the club and to them. What better way to send a Bayern icon and fan favorite out than with his record-tying third UEFA Champions League trophy and second triple at Bayern?