Bayern Munich have a long, historic association with the European Cup, having lifted the trophy on five separate occasions, which is only bettered by two separate clubs – AC Milan (seven) and Real Madrid (12).
Munich’s early success in the competition came in the 1970s, when Franz Beckenbauer helped the club to a hat-trick of trophies in 1974, 1975 and 1976, before he ended his long association with Bayern and moved to America. More recent success came during the 2000/01 campaign, when Valencia were defeated on penalties.
The last time Bayern were crowned as the Champions of Europe was 2013, when Jupp Heynckes’ side triumphed over Borussia Dortmund, beating their Bundesliga rivals 2-1 at Wembley – the home of football.
That evening, as “football’s coming home” rang around Wembley, the jubilant Bayern fans would not have imagined the struggle their club would suffer in Europe following that famous night, where they won their fifth trophy.
Pep Guardiola, arguably one of the greatest managers on the planet, has spent three years at the Allianz Arena without lifting the Champions League trophy. More recently, Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern’s current manager and one of the greatest coaches of all time, has struggled to guide the club to their sixth trophy, as Real Madrid and Barcelona dominate the European scene.
There has been no lack of success for Bayern domestically, as they won their fifth consecutive Bundesliga title during the 2016/17 campaign, with Ancelotti’s side storming to the title, finishing the season 15 points clear of RB Leipzig. Bayern are once again the heavy favourites to be lifting the Bundesliga trophy in 2018, with a price of 1/7 currently being offered in Paddy Power’s football odds.
However, despite the certainty that we will see Bayern challenge for domestic honours in 2018, their supporters and many football fans around the world want to see Ancelotti’s side make waves in the Champions League and try to end the dominance of Real and Barca, who are head and shoulders above the rest in world football.
Ancelotti’s defensive pairing of Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels in among the best in world football, whilst they shield the best goalkeeper in the world, Manuel Neuer. In attack, the old heads of Franck Ribery and Arjen Robben combine with one of the world’s most lethal finishers, Polish international Robert Lewandowski.
Success in Europe will rest on the shoulders of Lewandowski and his goalscoring ability, but Bayern’s supporters and Ancelotti will hope that James Rodriguez, who has arrived at the Allianz on loan from Real Madrid, will be able to have an impact on Bayern’s European performance.
The Columbian international has picked up two Champions League medals in the last three seasons, helping Madrid pick up their 11th and 12th titles, as Zinedine Zidane’s side go from strength to strength both domestically and in Europe. Ancelotti will hope that the 26-year-old can rediscover his best during his spell at Bayern and hopefully light up Europe’s biggest competition once again, after a difficult few seasons at the Bernabéu.
You can only admire the way that Barcelona and Real Madrid have performed in Europe over the last few years, but Bayern will be looking to end their dominance in 2018 and reignite their affair with football’s most glamorous competition.