What a topsy-turvy finish to the 2022/23 Bundesliga season.
The German top flight saved all the fireworks for the last Matchday, and the decisive games did not disappoint. Borussia Dortmund, Meisterschale in their hands, conceded twice in the first half to Mainz to throw the race wide open again, and Bayern Munich — who pounced with an early goal on Köln — looked good for their eleventh straight championship.
As each game wore on, though, the tension grew. Bayern had a fantastic second goal, an inch-perfect finish banked off the post by Leroy Sané, disallowed for a handball in build-up. Thomas Tuchel could only watch as his team repeated an uncomfortably familiar refrain: in possession of a 1-0 lead but ceding more and more control of the actual game.
Substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had a clear chance to deliver the finishing blow in the second half, but his shot arced wide — while an unmarked Leroy Sané, sitting right in front of goal, threw his hands up in exasperation.
And, just as they have done so many times this season, Bayern melted away. A Köln corner, another handball. This one went to VAR review, and Serge Gnabry, who made elbow contact with the ball, was judged to have done it right on the line. There it was, yet again: another penalty, another time late, and Bayern had all the appearance of a sinking ship.
Yet there was to be one more twist of fate. Leroy Sané drove forward down the right wing and tried to recreate his disallowed goal, only to be denied. But from the other flank, Serge Gnabry collected and fed the ball to Jamal Musiala — the youngster left out of the XI on this occasion, thrown on only late, when Bayern absolutely needed to find a goal.
And the magician produced, in his trademark style: a whirl and a curl to beat the diving Marvin Schwäbe and send the Bavarians hurtling back to the top of the table.
Thomas Müller sat on the bench, glued to his phone, his teammates crowding around him. Dortmund and Mainz were going wire to wire. Former Bayern defender Niklas Süle delivered an equalizer in the sixth minute of stoppage time, and suddenly everything was in play again! With just one more goal, as they had found in the last gasp of the Hinrunde edition of Der Klassiker, it would be Dortmund lifting the Meisterschale.
But it was not to be. Time ran out on Dortmund and pandemonium ensued. For both teams, the final result carried an air of inevitability. Can anything stop these irrepressible Bavarians? Will Dortmund ever not play second fiddle?
Fireworks, drama, twists, and turns. The most spectacular Bundesliga race in years and by far the most intriguing finish to any of Europe’s top five leagues. And in the end, FC Bayern triumphed again.
Can’t get enough analysis of this insane sequence of events at Bayern Munich? Well, then check out our latest podcast episode! In this special recording session we talk about Bayerns shaky performance vs Koln, the ruthless sacking of Oliver Kahn and Brazzo, concerns about entering the summer without a sporting director, the drama surrounding everything, and implications for player contracts like Davies and Musiala. Listen to it below or on Spotify.
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