One of the more interesting things Bayern Munich have given us in their incredible run this season is the next prototype to the perfect team. One with quite a few talented players, and so-called “stars”, but without the sense of anyone being greater than the collective. Franck Ribery might be the best example of this system, that makes the most of his individual talents while it doesn’t suppress the attacking talent of those around him like Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller and others.
It’s hard to find anything that worked badly for Bayern Munich through this entire season. From the goalkeeper, Manuel Neuer, who didn’t need to stretch once in order to save Bayern from conceding a goal during both matches against Barcelona, to the full backs David Alaba and Philipp Lahm in another perfect match both defensively and offensively, playing a bit more cautiously in the second leg.
Javi Martinez, in another incredible display of defensive positioning and domination, completely obliterating Andres Iniesta while Bastian Schweinsteiger, not too invovled in the attacking game because of the counter attacking nature, blocked any passing attempt Xavi and Alex Song attempted to have with someone who might pose any kind of danger.
And then there was the front. Mario Mandzukic would probably be a star on most teams in Europe, but at Bayern, he has his role to play, which isn’t always necessarily the goal scorer. His ability to press and soak up possession gave Bayern a pivot through their counter attacks, troubling Gerard Pique, who always felt like he was missing someone to help him cover the attacking Bayern players.
Arjen Robben has made the most of the Toni Kroos injury, showing that he can rise above his usual selfish self as he was utilized in the best way possibly, also scoring the opening goal. Thomas Muller is the perfect footballer, despite not having the talent others do. His positioning and decision making was flawless in every big match for Bayern this season, and he was paid off by scoring yet another goal, his 8th in the competition this season.
And there was Franck Ribery, who also had the numbers to prove how great of a match he had, setting up two goals. Both Ribery and Robben were praised for their ability in the first leg, also on the defensive side. Ribery put in a selfless effort in limiting Dani Alves along with David Alaba, but in an incredible working effort was always ready to provide a target for long balls on the counter attacks, blitzing down the left flank. It ended once with a cross that Pique deflected into his own net, and another time when Thomas Muller headed it home.
Bayern made it past Barcelona, and in the previous five seasons, the team that beats Barcelona in the semifinal goes on to win the Champions League title. If Barcelona reach the final, they take it themselves. Also the interesting streak of the country that hosted the previous final having one of its clubs become the next champion, something that began in 2009, has been kept. Germany will have a Champions League title holder for the first time since 2001, and right now, it’s impossible to think of anyone but Bayern.