Tomorrow, Bayern Munich will play its fourth UEFA Super Cup game against Sevilla FC. After losing to Dynamo Kyiv and Anderlecht in the early seventies, it wasn’t until 2001 when Bayern was in the final once again. Another loss to Liverpool, stimulated by the deadly duo of Emile Heskey and Michael Owen, saw Bayern lose its third consecutive UEFA Super Cup final.
The poor results in the Super Cup could easily be excused. After all, the UEFA Super Cup is another word for a “glorified friendly” that has no impact on the rest of the season. Nevertheless, it is a trophy for the cabinet and when Bayern faced Chelsea at the Eden Arena in Prague 2013, there was more at stake than a somewhat “pointless’ trophy.”
Pep Guardiola versus Jose Mourinho, Bayern versus Chelsea:
As is the case tomorrow, Bayern went into the 2013 Super Cup as Treble-winners. Jupp Heynckes and his direct style of football had delivered crushing results in Europe. Bayern made sure that the 2012 Champions League hangover did not last for more than a year. Javi Martinez and Mario Mandzukic proved to be the final puzzle pieces that Die Roten had missed, and their addition resulted in a fully deserved Champions League title.
It was then a question of how Bayern could improve a near-perfect formula. Pep Guardiola had already been confirmed as new head coach before the 2013 Champions League title, as had new signing Mario Götze. Optimism was at an all-time high: Bayern was the best squad in the world and they now had arguably the best coach in the world.
Chelsea also had a new manager: Jose Mourinho. The man who beat Bayern in the 2010 Champions League final with Inter Milan had failed to do achieve “La Décima” with Real Madrid. In consequence, Mourinho once again found himself on the sidelines at Chelsea.
The UEFA 2013 Super Cup could be seen as the last game that was played at the peak of the “Pep vs Mourinho” rivalry. Before the game, Mourinho stated that he highly doubted whether Bayern has gotten better under their newly appointed manager.
“It was Jupp Heynckes’s Bayern that was the best in Europe,” Mourinho told Bild am Sonntag.
While the two head coaches stole the headlines before the game, the game had a special significance for Bayern supporters and players: it was the first time Bayern and Chelsea had met since the 2012 Champions League final. Although Bayern had bounced back brilliantly after the soul-crushing defeat in their backyard, the loss still cut deep. The coaches were different, but the squads consisted of the same core of players.
The Super Cup could never make up for the defeat in 2012, but a win mattered much more to Bayern considering that the opponents were Chelsea.
Thoughts on the aftermath of Bayern’s victory
The game itself was highly enjoyable. The passion and the desire of the two teams were on full display, especially noticeable as Franck Ribery celebrated Bayern Munich’s equalizer by running towards Pep Guardiola and hugging him – a clearly symbolic act.
The game ended 1-1 after the first 90 minutes. Chelsea’s new signing Eden Hazard scored in the 3rd minutes of extra-time, but then Javi Martinez equalized in the very last second of the game. Bayern won on penalties after scoring five out of five – another massive symbolic victory.
The game was seen as an example of the massive potential of Bayern Munich. The team boasted new world-class signings and a new world-class head coach in an already dominant team. Were Die Roten on the path to become the first team to defend their Champions League title?
They didn’t manage the tough task, and it took Bayern seven years to win another Champions League trophy — a feat they accomplished under new circumstances.
Yes, Bayern predictably dominated the domestic league with relatively ease under proven international managers Pep Guardiola and Carlo Ancelotti. Nevertheless, in Europe, Bayern kept on failing to reach another Champions League final. The board tried a different approach and hired a new coach domestically. Niko Kovac’s tenure in Bayern was by no means a bad one, but a poor domestic start to the 2019/2020 season led to Kovac’s departure.
Where was Bayern heading now? I think it’s fair to say that no one expected Hans-Dieter Flick to revolutionize the team in the way he did. But under Flick, a man who not been a head coach for 14 years, Bayern has become the best team in the world by a wide margin. The difference from the 2020 Bayern Munich to the 2013 Bayern Munich is that they are just starting to experience life under a new Treble-winning coach.
What is highly interesting is that Bayern have changed their transfer-market approach. The board now focuses much more on developing talents rather than buying them. It wasn’t expensive signings such as Mario Götze, Renato Sanches, Mats Hummels, Mehdi Benatia, Arturo Vidal, and Douglas Costa who outran PSG on August 23. It was instead cheap talents that Bayern had developed into world-class players, such as Joshua Kimmich, Alphonso Davies, Serge Gnabry, Leon Goretzka, and Kingsley Coman.
It isn’t house-hold names such as Pep Guardiola or Carlo Ancelotti who are steering the ship, but a down-to-earth 55-year-old from Heidelberg.