Thursday, July 5, 2012
A brief history of Bayern Munich
European Cup/Champions League: 1973-74, 1974-75, 1976-76, 2000-01
UEFA Cup: 1995-96
European Cup Winners' Cup: 1966-67
DFB Liga-Pokal: 6
Bayern Munich are the biggest and most successful club in Germany by a distance. They have won a record 22 league titles, including 15 of the last 26, and four European Cups. They are also one of only three clubs to have won all three European trophies. Yet peculiarly for such a dominant club, Bayern are not especially steeped in history: they won only one title before 1969, and were not founder members of the Bundesliga in 1963.
The club was formed in 1900 by members of a gymnastics club. They won their first German championship under their Jewish coach Richard Kohn in 1932, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in the final (in those days a series of seven regional championships were followed by a knockout tournament to decide the champions).
Kohn and the president Kurt Landauer, who was also Jewish, left the country during Hitler's regime, as did many others in the club. Bayern were dubbed "the Jew's club", and took time to recover from the impact of the Third Reich. They were relegated from the Oberliga Sud (the southern section of the German top flight) in 1955; although they were promoted at the first attempt and then won the German Cup for the first time in 1957, that was not the end of their troubles.
Bayern almost went bankrupt in the late Fifties and were then not selected for the first season of the Bundesliga after its formation in 1963; the DFB chose their rivals 1860 Munich instead. But that was the last time Bayern would be on the periphery of German football.
They were promoted two seasons later with a young side that including three men - Sepp Maier, Franz Beckenbauer and Gerd Muller - who would form one of the strongest spines in the game's history for club and country over the next decade.
With those three in their side, Bayern were voracious in their accumulation of trophies. Between 1966 and 1976 they won four titles, four German Cups, a Cup Winners' Cup in 1967, the Intercontinental Cup and, most famously of all, three consecutive European Cups from 1974 to 1976. The only surprise was that such a remarkable team did not win more domestically.
At the start of the following decade Bayern were often termed FC Breitnigge, such was their dependence of the pair of Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. Bayern won another six titles and three cups in the Eighties, but European success was conspicuous by its absence: they were twice beaten in the European Cup final, in 1982 and 1987.
Things got worse before they got better. Bayern finished only five points off relegation in 1992, unthinkable for a club of their size, and then infamously lost to Norwich in the UEFA Cup in 1993. Beckenbauer took over briefly, and inevitably led the club to their first title in four years, but it was not until the appointment of Ottmar Hitzfeld in 1998 that Bayern reasserted themselves as Germany's undisputed number one. They won four titles in his six years at the club and, more importantly, again became serious contenders in Europe.
After a heartbreaking defeat in the Champions League final of 1999, when they led Manchester United 1-0 only to concede two goals in injury time, Bayern got their hands on the trophy in 2001, beating Valencia on penalties. To describe their victory as cathartic does not even come close.
Bayern won consecutive doubles under Felix Magath in 2005 and 2006, achievements that sandwiched their move to the mighty Allianz Arena in the summer of 2005. Yet although the titles continued to come, Bayern regressed in Europe: they did not get past the quarter-finals from 2002 until 2010, when their new coach Louis van Gaal led them to the final. They were beaten by Inter Milan, but another league and cup Double - their sixth in 11 seasons - kept them powerful domestically.
However, the following season saw Van Gaal sacked as Bayern struggled to assert themselves and a play-off in the Champions League was scant consolation. Jupp Henyckes returned to the club to help put them back on top but Dortmund were the new power in Germany and two trophyless seasons saw them come second in both league and cup to their rivals in 2012, while they also fell to Chelsea in the final of the Champions League.