This isn’t going to be the usual kind of article you’d find on this site, since the intention is more to spark debate rather than argue a position based on stats and careful reasoning.
At this moment, Bayern Munich fans are understandably bullish about their chances in the upcoming Champions League tie with Barcelona — and why shouldn’t we be? I know I am. As fans, we know our club better than anyone, and when fans of La Liga or the Premier League try to chime in with the opinion that Bayern isn’t all that, we are quick to defend the club.
The evidence in the club’s favor is overwhelming, after all. Since taking over from Niko Kovac, Hansi Flick has completely revolutionized the Bavarians’ style of play. Robert Lewandowski has cemented his position as the best striker in the world, breaking records in both the league and Champions League alike. Thomas Muller is rubbing shoulders with Kevin De Bruyne for the title of “best attacking midfielder in the world”. Meanwhile Alphonso Davies continues his meteoric rise through the ranks of football’s hierarchy.
Statistical models really like what we do. FiveThirtyEight rates us as the second best team in the WORLD, and gives us a 20% chance to win the Champions League. In addition, they give us a staggering 60% chance of winning the upcoming quarter final game against Barcelona. That’s a big advantage for a tie that is billed as a clash between two of Europe’s biggest clubs. Meanwhile, Michael Caley puts us alongside Manchester City as one of the “clear” top two in the Champions League.
two-legged xG map for Chelsea - Bayern— Caley Graphics (@Caley_graphics) August 8, 2020
hasn't been as clear a top two in the Champions League in a while pic.twitter.com/UOA698iNSf
Pundits have also sat up and taken notice of what Bayern’s been doing this season. Since demolishing Tottenham Hotspur and later Chelsea in the UCL, Bayern Munich’s stock has risen considerably in the eyes of the wider footballing audience. This is mainly because the EPL has a much wider global reach than the Bundesliga, so people who were never really paying attention got their first taste of what we can do on the world stage.
When Bayern swatted Chelsea aside, breaking numerous records in the process, people really started to sit up and take note of what this football club is doing. This has given rise to the narrative that Bayern Munich are destined for the treble this season. Hansi Flick has been compared to Jupp Heynckes aplenty in the German press, and Bayern fans will probably agree with me when I say that the team’s subjective “aura” is different compared to previous season.
Keep in mind that I am a Bayern Munich fan. Having watched every single minute of our games this season, having written analyses on why our players are some of the best, and having read high quality articles on our strengths and weaknesses, there is a nagging feeling that I can’t shake. Is the team really as good as the narrative says?
Let’s be honest here, when was the last time Bayern beat a really big team in the UCL knockouts? You have to go all the way back to 2016, where we scraped past Juventus via a last-minute equalizer by Muller. Since then, we’ve fallen multiple times to Real Madrid, and I was in the stadium when I saw our team get beaten by Liverpool 3-1.
Bayern Munich fans are always bullish about their team. Our motto is “Mia San Mia” after all, and that’s not a motto that denotes a lack of confidence. It’s haughty and arrogant and gets under the skins of our opponents, which makes it a source of pride for all of us. However, does this “Mia San Mia” mentality cause us to lose objectivity when looking at the team? After all, Manchester City has been amazing this season, and Barcelona have Leo Messi. What makes us so certain that we are above them?
This article had to be written now, since this needs discussing before the Barca game. Is Bayern Munich being overrated at the moment? Do we deserve all the praise were getting? Or is the euphoria of zero losses and a devastating win over a mediocre Chelsea side making us more bullish than intended?
Personally, I think the proof is in the pudding, and that pudding will be served on Friday when the Bavarians meet the Catalans on a grassy pitch in Lisbon. That arguably makes this game more important than a normal quarter final game against a random opponent. Barcelona are a certified “big club”, and we need to beat them to back up all our talk so far this season. It’s our club’s estimation in our own eyes that’s at stake, and the players and the coach need to show us that we’re right in having faith in them. Since this is a blog frequented by Bayern fans, let me put this question out there — what’s your take?
Is Bayern Munich being over-hyped?
This poll is closed
No, the hype is accurate.
Yes, time to tone it down.
The Barca result will give us the answer.