What a year it has been for Bayern Munich! A historic sextuple, a successful (?) managerial change, and a ton of records are just a few reasons this year was highly memorable. Bayern had no shortage of games this year, and it wasn’t easy to pick just five, but here are our top five picks for the best games of 2021. Enjoy!
#5. FC Bayern München 4-0 VfL Wolfsburg
2021/22 Bundesliga Matchday 17
17 December, Allianz Arena, Munich
Bayern’s final game of the year was a festive affair, at least for the home side. Opponents Wolfsburg were on a very poor run of form, and their misery continued just seven minutes into the game, when Thomas Müller darted in and scored off a save from a Serge Gnabry shot. Wolfsburg defended very deep, with little attacking intent, and further goals would not arrive until the second half.
Some great link-up play between the German trio of Gnabry, Müller, and Leroy Sané resulted in Dayot Upamecano’s first goal for Bayern. Just two minutes later, Sané channeled his inner Arjen Robben with a deft touch and a wonderful left foot curler that went in off the far post. The game was basically over by that point, but there was still time for Robert Lewandowski to score his customary goal against Wolfsburg through a lovely scissors volley following a Jamal Musiala cutback.
The game was a typical Bayern Bundesliga blowout, but it was made special because of two broken records. First, Lewandowski’s late goal was his 43rd Bundesliga goal of the year, breaking the legendary Gerd Müller’s 39-year long record for most league goals in a calendar year. Speaking of Müller, his namesake Thomas also got his record 24th assist in a calendar year, which no other player has achieved until now. Also, who doesn’t like a big win right during the holiday season?
#4. FC Dynamo Kyiv 1-2 FC Bayern München
2021/22 UEFA Champions League Group E Matchday 5
23 November, NSC Olimpisky, Kyiv
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. That was the key phrase for Bayern’s fifth Champions League group game of the new season. Held in the snowy Ukrainian capital, Bayern were down to their bare bones due to injuries and COVID, not to mention demoralization due to their defeat to Augsburg a few days ago. Would they still be able to win their group with a game to spare?
The heavy snowfall wasn’t enough to dampen Bayern’s spirits, and Robert Lewandowski soon had the visitors ahead with a peach of a goal. Benjamin Pavard’s shot ricocheted off a defender and rose high into the air, and Lewandowski nailed it into the back of the net with a wonderful bicycle kick. Who even tries to do that in conditions like this? Someone who should have won the Ballon d’Or…
A few minutes before halftime, Kingsley Coman made it two with a thumping finish that almost took the roof off the net, and Bayern went into halftime in command. Although they did concede a goal as their paper thin squad got the better of them, they still fought tooth and nail to the end and got a precious win, a win that cemented their spot at the top of their group.
This game had everything. A rambunctious crowd, a spectacular goal, some good saves and rare mistakes from Manuel Neuer, and great fighting spirit overall from a broken down team. It may seem like a routine Champions League victory on paper, but it was much more than that.
#3. FC Bayern München 1-0 Tigres UANL
2020 FIFA Club World Cup Final
11 February, Education City Stadium, Al Rayyan
As the champions of Europe, Bayern got to compete in the Club World Cup, the last step to a glorious sextuple. But due to a severely delayed flight, COVID, and personal problems, Bayern’s conditions were far from ideal. A routine victory over African champions Al Ahly got them into the final, now the question was whether they could take the last step to etch their names in history forever.
Facing North American champions Tigres, Bayern were cautious in the opening stages. Joshua Kimmich thought he had put Bayern ahead with a good long shot, but Robert Lewandowski was questionably judged offside, and the score stayed at zero. Leroy Sané hit the bar, but no goals would come in the first half.
Eventually, Bayern struck gold. Kimmich whipped the ball into the box for Lewandowski, who failed to connect properly, but Benjamin Pavard was waiting to tap the loose ball into an empty net. Initially ruled out as offside, the goal was given after a VAR check. Corentin Tolisso and Douglas Costa forced saves from the opposing keeper, but no more goals were scored. Pavard’s goal was ultimately enough to declare Bayern champions of the world.
The game itself wasn’t too memorable, but it was the final piece to complete the so-called “#FinalMissi6n.” Bayern had won the sextuple, a feat only ever achieved once before. Now that’s worth a mention. Plus, they got some shiny chest badges to go with it.
#2. FC Bayern München 5-2 FC Augsburg
2020/21 Bundesliga Matchday 34
22 May, Allianz Arena, Munich
This was a game of farewells. Coach Hansi Flick would be leaving Bayern for the German national team, and longstanding legends Jérôme Boateng, David Alaba, and Javi Martínez would be leaving the club too. It was the last game for assistant coaches Hermann Gerland and Miroslav Klose as well, so there was ample reason to send them all out on a high.
The first half was all Bayern, with an own goal opening the scoring. Serge Gnabry poked home from close range to make it two, and two sumptuous long range efforts from Joshua Kimmich and Kingsley Coman had the hosts four up at halftime. Augsburg had one major chance through a penalty, but even that was saved by Manuel Neuer.
Meanwhile, Robert Lewandowski was chasing the record for most goals in a single Bundesliga season, only needing one to overtake Gerd Müller’s tally of 40. The second half didn’t go his way for a long time, and two quick goals in succession for Augsburg slightly dampened the mood. But lo and behold, right at the death, Leroy Sané let loose a powerful shot that the keeper could only parry into Lewandowski’s path. The Poland captain made no mistake and wrote himself into the history books with his 41st goal of the season. Not a bad way to end the league campaign.
It was a beautiful ending for everyone involved, and the afternoon ended with the team lifting the Meisterschale for the ninth year in a row. It was also the debut of the new season’s sleek black away kit, which is a thing of beauty.
#1. FC Bayern München 4-2 Borussia Dortmund
2020/21 Bundesliga Matchday 24
6 March, Allianz Arena, Munich
Even though Borussia Dortmund were languishing in the Bundesliga at this particular point, Der Klassiker is still a special occasion. Bayern were top of the league, but needed to win this game to maintain their status in the title race. However, Dortmund’s Erling Haaland had other ideas, as he struck twice in the opening ten minutes to give his side a surprise 2-0 lead in Bayern’s backyard.
But Bayern were no stranger to comebacks, and they got themselves back into the game through Robert Lewandowski. Bayern’s top scorer opened his account with a tap in after some nifty footwork by Leroy Sané, and converted a penalty won by Kingsley Coman just before halftime to tie the score.
Bayern piled on the pressure after the break, but Dortmund’s defense held firm. Their resistance would be in vain, though, as two minutes from the end, Leon Goretzka took advantage of a faulty clearance to volley home and complete Bayern’s comeback. Lewandowski then completed his hat trick in the last minute to seal a thrilling, well-deserved win.
It was one of the most stunning comebacks of the Bundesliga season, and it was an epitome of Bayern’s never-say-die attitude under Hansi Flick’s tutelage. It was a great team effort, a win that had ‘niemals aufgeben(never give up)’ written all over it, and it was just a joy to watch Bayern overcome hurdle after hurdle even after being dealt major setbacks. It also ensured that Flick would have a perfect record against Dortmund during his time at Bayern, with five wins in five games.
Which was your favorite game of the year? Let us know in the comments!