Mar 25, 2014, 8:14 PM EDT
Completing a defense as ridiculous as last year’s title charge, Bayern Munich wrapped up the German Bundesliga seven rounds before the finish line on Tuesday, their 3-1 win over Hertha Berlin moving the European champions 25 points clear of second place Borussia Dortmund with seven rounds to go. With goals from Toni Kroos, Mario Götze, and Franck Ribery, Pep Guardiola’s team locked up the club’s 24th Bundesliga title, the first step toward duplicating last year’s three-trophy haul.
In the face of those results, it’s become popular to look at Bayern’s success as a fault of the German league – a complete disservice to Borussia Dortmund, who made last season’s Champions League final. BVB’s continued success in Champions League, along with Germany’s other two qualifiers making the tournament’s knockout round, makes it difficult to argue the Bavarians have had an especially easy ride. Instead, it’s a grotesque collection of talent that enabled this shockingly easy defense.
On Tuesday, while visiting a Hertha side that sits squarely in the middle of the Bundesliga table (ninth place), the trademark of that dominance was on display. According to numbers at WhoScored.com, Bayern maintained 82 percent of the ball. Toni Kroos and Philipp Lahm combined to complete more passes than the entire Hertha team (292-199). Of the 134 passes Lahm attempted, zero fell to the feel of the opposition. Jerome Boateng (132) and Dante (106) also broke triple digits as Bayern averaged 10 consecutive passes between Hertha possessions.
It’s control that’s enabled München put up a 25-0-2 record through 27 rounds, giving the team seven games to chase down last season’s record-breaking numbers. Then, Jupp Hyenckes’s treble-winning squad scored 98 times and conceded 18 goals while accumulating 91 points (29-1-4).
Unless Bayern hits an unexpected slide, they should eclipse that point total. With 79 goals, they’re on pace to edge out last year’s attacking numbers, while their 13 goals allowed puts the team on track to allow two fewer.
All of which is secondary to winning Champions League, of course. Particularly after we saw Real Madrid’s vulnerabilities this weekend, Bayern should be considered heavy favorites to repeat.
Just as in Germany, however, the distance between Bayern and the rest of Europe says little about what’s wrong with the competition. It says everything about what’s right with Bayern.
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