Earlier this week, Bundesliga.com explored the topic on how this deep and talented Bayern Munich side rates among the championship teams from different eras within the club’s recent history. It was an interesting question, especially given the overflow of talent that currently has some quality players watching from the stands.
In turn, our collective gears began to grind, so we assembled a panel of intelligent and opinionated contributors to explore how this team stacks up against the club’s past and also how the roster rates against the collective powers among the Big 5 leagues this season. I mean, what better way spend some time than debating a little Die Roten with the boys from BavarianFootballWorks.com?
So unwind a bit, give it a read, and we’d love to read your comments below.
1. Historically, is this the best Bayern team ever (acknowledging it’s tough to compare eras, but strictly looking at results and roster talent)?
Tom Adams: I think it has to be. The 18-point gap this early on between this Bayern team and all of the other clubs in the Bundesliga is simply incredible. What’s amazing about it, too, is the fact that we, arguably, still don’t have our strongest squad available; Neuer out, Thiago’s long injury layover, Robbery both had considerable injury spells, etc. We’ve been rather unfortunate with injuries this season, but Jupp Heynckes has still managed to boast a record of 20 wins from 21 matches across all competitions since he’s taken charge. The quickness and the manner in which he’s turned this team around from their blunders in the beginning of the season speaks so highly to just how good of a manager he is, and he’s certainly got the ability to take them the distance [in the treble pursuit] again.
George Rudnik: Is this season’s team better than the three-peat Champions League (equivalent) winners of 1974-75-76? Are you serious? More talented than the team that had Franz Beckenbauer, Gerd Müller, Sepp Maier, Uli Hoeness, Karl Heinz Rummenigge and Paul Breitner? Are you crazy? Superior to the 1971/72 team that scored 101 goals in the Bundesliga? Have you lost your mind? Well, maybe not.
While it’s tough to compare across eras, and some individual players were considered the absolute best at their positions at the time -- Beckenbauer and Der Bomber, for example -- the truth is, that legendary team had nowhere near the depth of top talent that this season’s squad has, and defending your European title was a little easier back then. Also, keep in mind that in those three glorious years of continental domination, they only won the Bundesliga once --1973/74 -- while finishing in an embarrassing tenth place the following year, and third in 1975/76.
So, I would have to give the nod to the current team over the 1970s assembly, simply because they did not have the ability to replace any of their starters with anyone close to the same quality that they do now. However, in the competition for best ever in Bayern history, I would have to pick the 2012-13 triple champions by a nose, in terms of dominance in domestic -- winning by 25 points and scoring 98 goals, while only allowing 17 -- and international competition --ahhh, the Barcelona drubbing -- and a similarly deep roster as they have today.
Phillip Quinn: I think it’s hard to argue against this being the most talented Bayern team ever assembled. There’s quality depth at every position for the first time and maybe forever. The things that this Bayern team has accomplished already this season is even more impressive when you consider that Manuel Neuer has not played. Yes, it’s very possible that they could throw it all away with a slip up in the Champions League, but that’s why they play the game. It will be extremely disappointing if this Bayern team does anything except win the triple again.
2. How does this roster stack up competitively with the other Power teams (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Manchester City, etc.)?
Phillip Quinn: The talent on this Bayern team is easily among the world’s best or the best in the world. They may not have a Messi or Ronaldo or even a Neymar if you think he’s that great, but the quality and every position is there. I’ll take this Bayern team against anybody every single time.
George Rudnik: Manchester City scares me, honestly. They have a loaded -- and young --roster, with a world class coach --I miss you, Pep -- and are firing on all cylinders, at least offensively. The rest of the contenders seem to all be a step behind City and Bayern.
Real Madrid, despite having all those big names, and being the two-time defending champions, appear to be running out of steam, and an aging Ronaldo can’t rescue them anymore. Barcelona doesn’t instill as much fear as they used to, due in part to Neymar’s departure. The rest of the top English teams are too inconsistent, and look ordinary at times, to concern me.
This Bayern team probably has the most depth in Europe at the moment, with national team players on the bench and even having to sit in the stands. The only weak spot left, after finding a capable backup for Robert Lewandowski, is in goal, where Sven Ulreich, as well as he has played, is the obvious weak link. If Manuel Neuer comes riding in on his white horse in time for the big games --let’s face it, Besiktas should be easily handled -- and gets even close to his old form, then nothing will stop Bayern from repeating their feat from five years ago.
Tom Adams: It’s so refreshing to see how much individual players have improved under Jupp - namely James, Javi Martinez, and Arturo Vidal; they’re all playing with full confidence again, and it permeates throughout the rest of the squad. Either Real Madrid or PSG will be knocked out of the Champions League by the time the quarterfinals roll around, so as long as Bayern get past Besiktas, there’s only a short list of contenders that I think can actually beat this Bayern team on their day.