Bayern stronger than ever

With the confirmation that Bayern Munich signed Javi Martinez in a reported €40m transfer deal from Athletic Bilbao, this current side has the potential to win both the Bundesliga and Champions League this season.

Bayern Munich are coming off a tough loss in the Champions League final on penalties at the Allianz Arena in May and have stuck with 67-year old coach Jupp Heynckes. Heynckes remains a highly-rated manager, having won the Bundesliga twice in the late 80s with Bayern and the Champions League with Real Madrid in 1998. Though that is his last major honour.

Trophyless spells with Portuguese giants Benfica, Athletic Bilbao, half a season with Borussia Mönchengladbach, and Bayer Leverkusen have all followed. In between, he did manage to win the now defunct Intertoto Cup twice with Schalke 04, in 2003 and 2004.

The playing personnel is as strong as it has ever been in Munich. Germany’s number 1 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is protected by Philipp Lahm, Jerome Boateng, Holger Badstuber and new centre back signing Dante from Gladbach.

The Brazilian defender had been a big hit with his previous club and is a solid defender in this league. Going by the opening game of the season, a 3-0 victory at newly-promoted Greuther Fürth, this has allowed Badstuber to play left back and Lahm to switch back to his natural right-sided position. Rafinha dropping out of the first team. On paper this looks like an improvement on last season.

The signing of Javi Martinez is another solid ball-playing holding midfielder who can play alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger. Also an option at centre back where he spent the majority of his time with Bilbao last season. Bayern already have Anatoliy Tymoshchuk and Luiz Gustavo competing for this position too.

Toni Kroos who has been called upon to play a deeper role before, notably the Champions League final when Gustavo was suspended and Tymoshchuk was dropped back into central defence following the suspensions of Badstuber and Alaba. I wouldn’t expect the young German to need to play a deep role this season, but rather a deep-lying forward where he plays best, behind Mario Gomez. We’re still yet to see the best of Kroos, or at least consistently but the potential is there for the world to see. Perhaps 2012/13 will be his year.

Thomas Müller, who lost his battle with Kroos for that central attacking role will likely line up on the right wing again this season. He wasn’t as productive there, but as he proved with 7 Bundesliga goals and 1 in the Champions League final, he’s still one of Germany’s brightest young talents.

Franck Ribery had a very productive 2011/12 campaign and the same will be expected again of the French winger who chipped in with 17 goals and 26 assists in all competitions. Arjen Robben may have to make do with playing back up to these two, whilst young David Alaba is waiting in their wings. Takashi Usami returned to 1899 Hoffenheim after his loan expired in the summer.

The acquisition of Mario Mandzukic from VfL Wolfsburg adds another option up front of Jupp Heynckes. He netted 12 goals in 32 Bundesliga games for the Wolves last season as they finished 8th. He also scored 3 goals in as many games for Croatia at Euro 2012 this summer.

Mandzukic offers an all-round attacking threat that links up better than Mario Gomez. The Croatian had a lucky start to his career in Bayern after Gomez suffered an ankle injury earlier this month that is expected to keep last season’s 41-goal hit man sidelined for six weeks.

Mario Mandzukic scored the second of Bayern’s 3 goals in their opening fixture.

This Bayern Munich squad now has more depth than ever, and after successive unsuccessful Bundesliga campaigns are ready more than ever to win the championship this time around. They will also be gunning hard to make up for last season’s Champions League final loss. Borussia Dortmund you have been warned.

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