By Michael Kryschak@michaelkryschak

The end of an era: FC Bayern and their eleven years of glory

Bayer 04 Leverkusen have just ended the longest and most prestigious era of dominance in the history of any European top league - they are the new Bundesliga champions. We looked back at eleven years full of Bavarian glory.

FC Bayern München have dominated the Bundesliga between the years of 2012 and 2023.  In this unprecedented era of glory the Bavarians have certainly set an example of professional work, dedication and perfect teamwork. 

 

How did it all start and why did it end? Here are some of the most important moments in Bayern and Bundesliga history:

Bundesliga season 2012/13

The year 2012 was one to forget for all Bayern Munich fans: 2nd in the Bundesliga behind Dortmund, a loss in the DFB-Pokal final against Dortmund and to top it all of a loss in the Champions League final against Chelsea - in the infamous “Finale dahoam”.

Many predicted the Bavarians to go down a dark path, since all these losses took their toll on the players' mental state. Little did everybody know this year was the beginning of Germany's and especially Bayern's greatest era of all time.

On the sixth of April in 2013 (BL matchday 28) Bayern secured first place in the Bundesliga in an extraordinary matter: no club has ever won the competition this early on. Club legend Bastian Schweinsteiger helped Bayern win 1-0 against Eintracht Frankfurt. Bayern would go on to win the title being 25 points ahead of second place Dortmund - another new record.

But Bayern didn't stop there: the wins in the DFB-final against Stuttgart and in the Champions League against Dortmund made them the first German club to achieve the treble - and to top it all of they just signed possibly the best manager in the world, Pep Guardiola…

Bundesliga season 2013/14

“Thiago or nothing” , was one of the most famous sentences of Guardiola's time at Bayern. Guardiola wanted the then outstanding talent to become one of Bayern Munich's faces over the next years. 

Bayern once again proved that there ist always room for improvement: in this season, “der Rekordmeister” won the Bundesliga title one matchday earlier (27) on the 25th of March after a 3-1 victory against Hertha BSC Berlin. 

You could see Guardiola's handwriting in the style of play: Bayern never looked more dominant on the ball. Signings like Thiago Alcantara from Barcelona would add to the core of Bayern's team for years to come - as Guardiola had predicted.

A transfer many people were surprised by was Xabi Alonso from Real Madrid. Alonso would go on to not only help Bayern write history, but he would be the one to end Bayern's Bundesliga dominance eventually.

Bundesliga season 2014/2015

In a season, in which a Wolfsburg team including a certain Kevin de Bruyne was Bayern‘s biggest competitor, the Bavarians were able to continue their title streak and secured „die Meisterschale“ on matchday 30 with a 1-0 victory against Hertha BSC.

It was Robert Lewandowski‘s first season at the Allianz Arena, but interestingly he only finished second in the golden boot race - behind Frankfurt icon Alex Meier with „only“ 19 goals! But as we all know by now, this was only the beginning of Bayern‘s most successful striker of the modern time.

At the end of the season, a club legend in Bastian Schweinsteiger left the club and joined Manchester United in England.

Bundesliga season 2015/16

Even though they were ten points in front at the end of the season, Bayern only managed to win the Bundesliga on matchday 33 after a 2-1 victory against promoted side Ingolstadt.

It was a special title win: for the first time in Bundesliga history a team was able to win the league four times in a row! Lewandowski certainly helped with his 30 goals.

In 2016, Guardiola left Bayern for Manchester City having made his mark at the German club - in came the legendary Carlo Ancelotti.

Bundesliga season 2016/17

Ancelotti‘s first season at Bayern didn‘t go as successful as many had thought - but Bayern still won the Bundesliga title on matchday 31 with a 6-0 victory against Wolfsburg.

It‘s been four years since Bayern competed in a Champions League final - this fact started to annoy the club bosses. The league title was almost expected at this point, the focus shifted onto the Champions League.

In this season Lewandowski scored another 30 goals in the league - but he didn‘t finish as the top scorer, because BVB’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was one goal ahead in the end.

At the end of the season club captain Philipp Lahm retired at the young age of 33 alongside midfield maestro Xabi Alonso.

Bundesliga season 2017/18

In this season Bayern finally started to crack - or so everybody thought. Legendary coach Carlo Ancelotti was fired just two months into the new season after a 3-0 loss in the Champions League against Paris Saint-Germain.

None other than the iconic Jupp Heynckes took over once again and managed to turn things around completely for the Bavarians:

FCB looked as dominant as ever, winning the league on matchday 29 after a 4-1 victory against Augsburg - the sixth league title in a row!

Since Heynckes only wanted to finish the season and retired afterwards, the club bosses had to make another managerial decision: and they went for a former player in Niko Kovač, who won the DFB-Pokal with Frankfurt in a final against his new club!

Bundesliga season 2018/19

Once again a special season for all Bayern fans: it was the last with their star duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.

In an exciting fashion Bayern won the Bundesliga title on the last matchday (34), after a 5:1 victory against Mainz - both Robben and Ribéry managed to score!

But Bayern looked more beatable than in the years prior. Was this the end of this golden Bavarian generation?

Bundesliga season 2019/20

It looked like Bayern‘s era of dominance in the league was coming to an end: Niko Kovač was fired after matchday ten - ironically after being beaten 5-1 by former club Frankfurt. Hansi Flick was announced to be the „caretaker“ manager until the winter break.

After good results right from the start (including a 4-0 win against title contenders Dortmund) Flick was given the job until the summer. But what followed changed the history of the sport forever.

2020 was the year in which the COVID pandemic started. Every league had to decide how to go on and after an initial break of a few weeks, the Bundesliga continued.

On matchday 32 Bayern clinched another league title, beating Werder Bremen 1-0 in the process. No fans were allowed into the stadium to celebrate with the team, therefore Bayern got the nickname „Geister-Meister“ or „ghost champion“.

This completely special season was crowned by Bayern winning the treble in spectacular fashion - seven years after their last CL triumph. This would be the last time Bayern got into the final until 2024.

Bundesliga season 2020/21

In this season Bayern got back to dominating the league. They were able to win the title on matchday 32, after beating Gladbach 6-0.

It was a historic season for an individual player: Robert Lewandowski. His 41 league goals broke the all-time record of 40 by Gerd Müller - nobody ever came close to these numbers.

A Borussia Dortmund team including Erling Haaland pushed Bayern to reaching their best form in years.

It turned out to be the last season of Hansi Flick at Bayern - Julian Nagelsmann was announced to not only be the successor of Flick, but to start a new era in Munich.

Bundesliga season 2021/22

In Nagelsmann‘s first season, Bayern secured the league title on matchday 31, after beating long time rival Dortmund 3-1. This meant Bayern were champions for the tenth time in a row.

With many players leaving, including Robert Lewandowski to Barcelona, it seemed like Bayern was preparing to start a new era of dominance. But it turned out to be the beginning of the end.

Bundesliga season 2022/23

Bayern started well into the season, putting up a new record in the group stages of the Champions League. But in March of 2023 everything changed once again.

Club bosses Kahn, Salihamidzic and Hainer decided to sack Nagelsmann, saying „The treble seems in danger and our recent form didn‘t convince us to keep going.“ Bayern presented Nagelsmann‘s successor immediately: former BVB coach Thomas Tuchel.

He led Bayern to their closest season finish in the last eleven years, winning the Bundesliga title after a 2-1 victory against Köln on matchday 34 - and Bayern only won the league, because Dortmund themselves slipped up and drew against Mainz (2-2).

Bundesliga season 2023/2024

As mentioned earlier in this article, this season would be all about Xabi Alonso. But not because he'd help Bayern to another title: since his playing time in Munich the Spaniard started his coaching career - and he eventually got a job in the Bundesliga for Bayer Leverkusen.

It has been a difficult season for Munich, a season that will more so be remembered for the trouble and noise around the pitch, than the actual football on the pitch.

Thomas Tuchel wasn't able to ever bring continuity into his Bayern side. They would go from favourites, to underdogs to fighting for second place. Losses against Alonso's Leverkusen, Dortmund confirmed Tuchel's kind-of-exit from Bayern Munich. This decision took place after Bayern lost three games in a row.

On the 21st of February 2024, FC Bayern confirmed the dismissal of coach Thomas Tuchel - but only for the end of the season. Tuchel would stay as Bayern coach until the 30th of June 2024 - a decision which was difficult to understand for many. No coach since Guardiola was able to stay three years at Bayern - and for now it will stay that way.

On the 14th of April (matchday 29) something else was made official: the end of Bayern's Bundesliga title streak. Bayern were able to become champions for eleven years in a row - but after a 5-0 victory against Werder Bremen, Xabi Alonso's Leverkusen team secured the title for the first time in their club history.

Since Alonso is a former Bayern player and undoubtedly an exciting coach, Bayern tried to secure his services for the upcoming season - but they were denied. According to various reports, Julian Nagelsmann will make an astonishing return to Munich.

Is he going to help Bayern go back to their wining ways? Will an era ever be as dominant as this eleven year period by the Bavarians? Could Leverkusen become the new Bayern Munich? Let's see what the future holds.

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