Bayern Munich 2012/13 is part of 90min's 20 Greatest Teams of the Decade series.
The 2012/13 season was a breeze for Bayern Munich. A chilly south German gust of wind that continued gathering pace until its devastating efficiency blew all the competition away.
Long since earning themselves the tag of Germany's most ruthless and successful club side of the 21st century, their wait for success on Europe's biggest stage had evaded them for far too long.
That was all to change on a memorable night in London; where one of Europe's juggernauts finally put their stamp on the continent through the famed 'Robbery' duo that defied the negative connotation their tag suggested, and achieved success with complete justification.
This was the perfect ending to a season that began under Jupp Heynckes, who continued his third stint as manager for the club. The season prior was one of heartbreak and despair, as Bayern lost out to Borussia Dortmund in both the Bundesliga and German Cup, while they came agonisingly close to securing the Champions League on their home turf only to lose out on penalties to Chelsea in the final.
Whatever cost them dearly during the 2011/12 season required surgery to fix, something that was sewn up with the shrewd acquisitions of Javi Martinez, Mario Mandzukic, Xherdan Shaqiri and Dante in the summer of 2012.
A team formidable in its own right amped the fear factor up another notch, as Heynckes set about righting the wrongs of the year before. They would do so in swashbuckling style, obliterating the competition on their way to breaking no less than 30 records en route to the Bundesliga title.
Setting the tone with a 3-0 demolition of SpVgg Greuther Fürth, their four-pronged attack of Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, Franck Ribery and Mario Mandzukic left terror in their wake, with no defence able to cope with the speed and movement they possessed.
This didn't stop.
In the next seven league matches, 23 goals would follow with just two conceded, as the Bavarian powerhouses repeatedly turned on the style to light up the division and surge towards the top of the Bundesliga. Their first defeat of the season, one of only three in the whole campaign, would occur on matchday nine as Bayer Leverkusen left the Allianz Arena with three points, in one of few shocks of an electrifying campaign.
In Europe, their Champions League group pitted them against Valencia, Lille and BATE Borisov, with the latter of those sides providing one of the competition's greatest surprises as they humbled Heynckes' side 3-1 on home turf. It turned out to be irrelevant, and perhaps the perfect reminder that focus can never drop, as Die Roten topped their group as winners, with goal difference seeing them narrowly edge the Spanish outfit.
League form took a slight dip - only by their own remarkable standards - as the final eight games of the year saw them draw on three occasions but still maintain a supremely healthy lead at the division's summit.
This wasn't a battle on two fronts, though, as the DFB-Pokal was well within their sights as they breezed their way into the quarter-finals having yet to concede a goal.
The customary winter break granted the club time to recharge and reassess, although little assessment was needed. Bayern were an unstoppable force, and even Dortmund up next in the cup and Arsenal in Europe were not going to stop them in their tracks - even if the latter inflicted their third and final defeat of the season.
Use any superlative you like. Nothing could stop them.
It was as if they wanted to get the league sewn up as early as possible, thus shifting their focus solely on cup competitions, where they would need all the mental strength they could muster to banish last season's demons.
Unrelenting, a farcical number of records were broken en route to the Bundesliga title, including totaling 91 points at the end of the season, leading the next best challenger by 25 points, winning the most matches in a season with 29 and suffering the fewest defeats (one).
Furthermore, they became the first team in German top flight history to win the league in less than 30 rounds, doing so after 28 games with six to spare. This was utter domination in Germany, and nobody could say they deserved any less.
In among all of this, they put in an immeasurably professional showing against Juventus in the Champions League quarter-finals over two legs. Securing a 2-0 home win, the feat was repeated in Turin with the Germans never looking threatened as Heynckes' experience shone through.
Going forward they could blitz any side in world football, while Bastian Schweinsteiger and Toni Kroos provided steel and experience in the centre of the park. The summer addition of Dante is one that could not have been more crucial, with the towering Brazilian a threat in both boxes alongside Daniel van Buyten.
At full-back, the evergreen Philipp Lahm continued to prove why he was one of Europe's most consistent performers, while David Alaba confirmed his place as one of the best attacking left-backs in the business.
Heynckes' tactics provided defensive stability, as the counter pressing and positioning of his players provided cover for his defenders, while also setting the base from which attacks could stem, thus perfectly suiting the style to those in his disposal. Moreover, the possession-based approach they would utilise in the league could be adapted for European ventures, when more sterner opposition would call for a less gung-ho attacking setup.
Manuel Neuer had revolutionised goalkeeping, and his sweeper role essentially added another body in attack when in possession, sitting so far off his line it allowed the wingers to stay wide and the midfielders to drift into space. It was a set-up that was crafted wonderfully and executed perfectly.
Their passage to the semi-final stage came just one week after the league was wrapped up, but the most daunting of all their tasks would come in the next round. Barcelona, over two legs.
Many will rightly say that the Champions League was won in the final, but to suggest Bayern were going to do anything other than lift the trophy after their showing against Lionel Messi and co would have been a very brave claim.
It was 180 minutes that shook European football. The 7-0 aggregate thrashing of the mighty Blaugrana presented the club with the platform to end years of heartbreak for both themselves and their supporters. However, nobody saw them brushing aside the Catalan outfit with such consummate ease, and whoever awaited at Wembley faced the battle of their lives.
Back in Germany, a DFB-Pokal final awaited them also, making mincemeat of VfL Wolfsburg while they continued to blitz through their opposition in the Bundesliga. Interestingly, their first game after humbling Barça was against Dortmund, where a cagey and nervy tussle would end 1-1, the second time this result had happened in the league that season.
Never mind league football, though; that had been forgotten since early April.
This was all about 25 May, Wembley Stadium, London.
Throughout the season Robben and Ribery had been superb. The former had been ravaged by injury during much of the season, but his influence in Europe was vital, missing only three matches in the build-up to the final.
'Robbery' were set to steal the hearts of the Die Roten fans for good, earning their place in the club's history for eternity. This, was Bayern's day.
Die Borussen would ultimately pay a heavy price for failing to capitalise on a first half hour in which they dominated their opponents, only being kept at bay by the brilliance of Neuer in net. The sucker-punch arrived through the fine work by Robben, who set up Mandzukic for Bayern's opener on the hour.
Dortmund never gave in though - as was in keeping with the quality on display - and quickly drew level through Ilkay Gundogan's penalty after Dante fouled Marco Reus. This was an invigorating and fascinating European final, with both goalkeepers having to be at their best to keep out some scintillating football being played by both sides.
It would all come down to the final minute, however, as the finalists in two of the last three seasons were finally able to exorcise their ghosts in the most dramatic of finales.
Ribery's flick backwards fell into the path of the onrushing Robben, who showed superb composure to dance his way past two challenges and guide a trickling effort beyond Roman Weidenfeller. The full time whistle would blow a few minutes later, and burden of disappointment had been lifted from a Bayern side who were truly deserving of the title, 'Europe's best'.
It wasn't the end there, though. Not at all.
Just one week later they would lift the DFB Pokal, beating VFB Stuttgart 3-2 in the final and, in doing so, becoming the first German team to win the treble. That, and the 29 other records they broke. Astute in defence, workmanlike in midfield and dazzling in attack, their domination was confirmed.
That was made all the more evident when five of the club's players were nominated for the Ballon d’Or in Lahm, Muller, Neuer, Ribery and Robben, with Ribery making the final shortlist.
A staggering season from one of the greatest club sides Europe has seen this decade, and beyond.
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