There is no doubt as to the identity of the next Bundesliga champions – Bayern Munich have opened a 17 point lead ahead of the next team, and will win the title after a two-year drought, way too long by their own standards. While the team gets plenty of compliments for its style, the defense being nearly flawless this season might be the biggest reason for the success.
How good? Well, you remember Manuel Neuer toying around during the Bayern – Schalke 4-0 win? Well, since then, not much has changed. They’ve won their next three league matches by a score line of 9-1, and added a 3-1 away win over Arsenal in the Champions League and probably the sweetest of them all, a 1-0 German cup victory against Dortmund.
So that puts Bayern at 8 conceded goals this season in 24 matches. The next best defense in the Bundesliga has conceded 23 goals (Freiburg). They’ve haven’t conceded in consecutive league matches since September, when it was already quite clear that it’s going to take a very special effort from anyone to try and stop Bayern Munich on their way to the title, but who knew that Dante, Jerome Boateng and Daniel Van Buyten might be the key men, eventually, on the road to the title? Who knew it was possible to concede only one away goal through an entire season? That’s where they’re headed right now.
Not even sitting down Manuel Neuer in the away match against Hoffenheim changed the situation – Tom Starke, the former Hoffenheim keeper, got the chance to start in the lineup behind Dante and Jerome Boateng. Hoffenheim managed only 3 shots on target through the match, with Starke, possibly getting his only chance to start this season, not really having much to do through the 90 minutes.
With Real Madrid and Manchester United looking as teams on a similar level but far from perfect for different reasons; with Barcelona on the way down from the pinnacle, while the Italian teams, as successful as they’ve been, are still far from their dominant pasts, it does look like Bayern are finally the best team in Europe after building towards that goal for the last three or four seasons. They only need to keep this conceding record up, and the recent disappointments of Champions League finals will also be erased by the time this season is over.