Champions League Final: Can Bayern Munich now forge an era of dominance?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

No team in the modern era has defended the European Cup. That is the Germans' challenge

Wembley

It was around 1am in the morning that the Bayern Munich chief executive, Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, addressed the 1,800 guests at the club's post-match party at the Grosvenor House hotel, and according to the club's official account, proclaimed their Champions League final victory "the sporting comeback of the year".

It was a not a comeback in the traditional sense, against overwhelming adversity and with the odds stacked against them, because Bayern are about as establishment as it gets when it comes to European football. They sit fourth in the Deloitte world money league, they have a gleaming new stadium and they buy other clubs' best players. Instead this was about the kind of comeback that only the big boys can embark upon.

There are some great sides who never win the big trophies – it is just the way it works out. It looked that way for Chelsea over the last decade until they finally landed the European Cup last year, beating Bayern in Munich, and once they had done so, the curse seemed to have passed on to Bayern who were in their third final in four years on Saturday and fearing the worst as the game headed to extra time.

"I remember it well, the final a year ago where we'd all had such high hopes," Rummenigge said, "and when we met at the Postpalast [a venue in Munich] I passed a tide of fans leaving the screening of the game at the Olympic Stadium. I looked in their faces, and I thought to myself: 'Mamma mia! What's this? What kind of shock has this club suffered? And how will we get over it?'

"I think many people expected us to fall apart after 19 May, that we'd freeze from shock and give up. I don't think that would have been very Bayern-like. I think we've done what we had to do. We got down to work, especially this team, and this coach. I think it was a wonderful final against magnificent opponents, but – and this is the most important thing – we deservedly won."

There was much other stuff of note in the speech, including a reminder to guests to heed Bastian Schweinsteiger's advice and "drink plenty". There was a tribute to Jupp Heynckes, who Rummenigge said rang him "on the stroke of 10am" every morning last summer to discuss what the team needed to move on to the next level. "I think this team has unbelievable character," Rummenigge said. "They're first-class on the field and first-class off it. They're not arrogant. They win, and they keep going."

There is no doubting that this Bayern team occupy the top perch in terms of elite European football and the decisions they have made, most of them taken well before the end of the season. Pep Guardiola in as coach, Mario Götze signed from their beaten opponents Borussia Dortmund and Robert Lewandowski on his way too, if Heynckes' post-match hint is to be taken at face value.

No one, not even Barcelona, has won the Champions League title in two consecutive years since the competition was changed to the new format. That has to be the achievement that Bayern aspire to and they are capable of doing so in a way that recent winners like Internazionale and Chelsea were just not geared up to do. They were coming to the end of their cycle with a particular team, while Bayern are yet to peak.

Their captain Philipp Lahm, only 29 himself, said that the current Bayern team, or a version of it, was capable of more. "The pressure was enormous at the beginning," he said. "I've always said that, if you want to be a golden generation, then you have to win an international title. We have finally succeeded. The team is at the right age and still has rosy times ahead."

Yet life never stands still when it comes to the very best. As Bayern's players paraded their trophy at Wembley, Barcelona were preparing to make the official announcement that they had signed Brazil's latest prodigy Neymar, from Santos. In the next couple of weeks, Jose Mourinho will arrive at Chelsea and life will get interesting.

Never before has there been such unprecedented managerial change in the English game. The summer of 2013 feels like a crossroads in many respects, just as a decade earlier life changed immeasurably when Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea, and, with less of an immediate impact, Manchester United bought Cristiano Ronaldo while David Beckham left for Real Madrid.

As well as new managers at Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea there will be change at Bayern, Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid. There could scarcely be a more intriguing start to it all than the European Super Cup final on 30 August in Prague between what will surely be Mourinho's Chelsea and Guardiola's Bayern. The trophy, essentially a Uefa junket, has never felt so relevant.

What the hell does Guardiola do with a team that is on the brink of the Treble under Heynckes – the Bundesliga, the Champions League and potentially the German Cup on Saturday? Win it better, like Brian Clough infamously promised to do with the Leeds United team he inherited from Don Revie in 1974? Rather, he is there to win it again and again in a fashion that has never been achieved in the modern era.

If you look at Bayern's history they have had just one era of sustained success, that hat-trick of European Cup titles between 1974 and 1976. That is one more era of dominance than all but a handful of clubs have ever achieved but for any club wishing to break new ground in a modern era largely dominated by Barça, the next frontier is to win the trophy over consecutive years. It is a formidable task.

Arjen Robben's very neatly taken winner – just three touches of the ball required of those nimble feet – said a lot about Bayern's performance. They are not as exquisite in their execution as Barça are at their best but, in the likes of Robben, they have a number of the world's best players who compete at such tempo and with such determination that they tend to overwhelm even the best opposition.

"What a club! What quality! What pride we can all have in this Bayern Munich!" Rummenigge said in his speech. There is no disputing that. Enough quality to win it next year too? That has to be the challenge.

Five alive: Bayern move up

Most European Cups

9 Real Madrid

7 Milan

5 Bayern Munich, Liverpool

4 Ajax,

Barcelona

3 Internazionale, Manchester United

2 Benfica, Juventus, Nottingham Forest, Porto

1 Aston Villa, Borussia Dortmund, Celtic, Chelsea, Feyenoord, Hamburg, Marseilles, PSV Eindhoven, Red Star Belgrade, Steaua Bucharest

Most European Cups by country

13 Spain

12 England, Italy

7 Germany

6 Netherlands

4 Portugal

1 France, Romania, Scotland, Yugoslavia

News
peoplePair enliven the Emirates bore-draw
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark episode 8, review
News
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Ed Miliband (R) and Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talk on the Andrew Marr show in London April 26
General electionAndrew Marr forced to intervene as Boris and Miliband clash on TV
News
United States President Barack Obama, right, uses actor Keegan-Michael Key from Key & Peele to play the part of 'Luther, President Obama's anger translator'
video
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions