No team in the modern era of the Champions League has managed to successfully defend the European Cup. Since the competition changed format, complete European dominance over a sustained period has not been forthcoming.
Manchester United came close in 2009 to keeping hold of the crown they won in Moscow's all-English final in 2008. Juventus and AC Milan did likewise in the nineties. Barcelona have reached the last six semi-finals, but only reached the final twice, winning on both occasions.
Latterly Bayern Munich have emerged, and this season's Champions League triumph is largely seen as due reward for four years of consistently high performance levels. Three continental finals in four years is a great achievement no matter how you slice it. Moreover, after losses to Inter Milan (2010) and Chelsea (2012), victory at Wembley has dispelled the theory that the likes of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Phillipp Lahm and Arjen Robben don't have the stomach for the fight on the grandest of stages.
Now, after that victory and the manner of their run to the final, there is no doubting that it is Bayern who are positioned at the head of the European game.
Success on the field is backed up firmly by their position off it. What Manchester United are to English football and Real Madrid to Spain, Bayern are to Germany.
Die Roten sit fourth in the Deloitte world money league, sponsorship's with numerous major companies both inside Bavaria and out, have a fantastic new stadium and—somewhat frustratingly for the neutral—have a knack of purchasing other clubs best players. In Mario Gotze, the Borussia Dortmund wunderkind, you can add another name to that list. Robert Lewandowski, chief executioner of Jurgen Klopp's brilliant side, could well be set to join him also.
Now, having won an unprecedented treble, encompassing the European Cup, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal, Bayern look to the future. Life doesn't stand still and nor are Germany's biggest powerhouse.
Jupp Heynckes, 68, is to be succeeded by Pep Guardiola, a two-time Champions League winner in his four years at Barcelona—a deal concluded early this year, strategic planning for that transition has been underway for months now.
Throw in a Champions League final-winning XI where the average age was under 27, and you realise this campaign's success is far from the end of a cycle.With talented youngsters like Xherdan Shaqiri, Toni Kroos and now Gotze also part of the first-team picture, the future looks bright to say the least.
And heck, with 47 percent of the Bundesliga encompassing homegrown talent and their financial prowess in comparison with others, Bayern can always buy what they don't have; the careers of Messrs Matthaus, Kahn, Scholl and now Neuer, Gomez and Kroos—a youth team player with Hansa Rostock when Bayern came calling—will attest.
Additionally, today marks another step in the adding of base strength behind the public curtain. Erik ten Hag, ex-assistant manager at PSV Eindhoven and FC Twente, has agreed to become the coach of Bayern Munich II, as reported by deStentor. It is quite the coup considering he has just led Go Ahead Eagles back to the Dutch top-flight with promotion in his first season as a manager in his own right.
It is yet another reason, albeit perhaps a rather minor one, as to why club president Uli Hoeness recently intimated, "Bayern are set up well, both sportingly and economically, for the future," via Football.co.uk.
In their history, Bayern have five European Cups, but just the one era of sustained success, a hat-trick of titles won between 1974 and 1976. The next frontier is to do so once again, and back-to-back Champions League titles would be quite the start.
The groundwork has been laid. Bayern are now at the head of European football.The challenge now for all concerned is to ensure that FC Hollywood remain at the pinnacle, both next season and further into the future.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!