How did they qualify?
Pep Guardiola’s side steamrollered all before them in Germany to claim their third consecutive Bundesliga title and secure their eight consecutive season in the Champions League. Bayern scored 80 times in the league last season – including a remarkable run of 25 goals in five games between February 14th and March 14th – and conceded just 18. They may have lost Bastian Schweinsteiger over the summer, but Arturo Vidal is a more than able replacement and Douglas Costa adds some Brazilian flair to a formidable attack.
Record in Europe:
Bayern’s record in European competition makes for ominous reading for their group opponents, especially with Arsenal pretty much needing a win to retain any hope of reaching the last-16. They haven’t failed to get out of the group stage when in the Champions League since 2002/03 and have reached the last-four of the competition in five of the last six seasons. Overall, they have won five European Cup/Champions League trophies, the most recent of which was three seasons ago when a late Arjen Robben winner sealed a 2-1 win over Borussia Dortmund at Wembley.
Who’s the boss?
This is Pep Guardiola’s third season at the helm in Munich, looking to win the Champions League trophy that has so far eluded him during his time in Germany. He has of course won the trophy before, lifting it twice with Barcelona, but he will feel that to really etch his name into the pantheon of managerial greats he needs to win it with Bayern too – especially as his arch-nemesis Jose Mourinho has won it with two clubs. They should win the Bundesliga comfortably again, so the emphasis at the Allianz Arena this season will be on European success.
How they’ll play:
Guardiola is known for the ‘tiki-taka’ passing style with which he has had such success with Barcelona and Bayern, and he remains true to this philosophy. They have started the season playing a 3-4-3 system, although their opponents will look to expose the lack of height in the usual back-three of Phillip Lahm, David Alaba and Juan Bernat, particularly as Bayern have sold Dante to Wolfsburg. Xabi Alonso, Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantara make up a formidable midfield, and with a frontline of Douglas Costa, Robert Lewandowski and Arjen Robben (supported by Thomas Muller and Franck Ribery), Bayern will feel – with some justification – that they can outscore anyone.
It is difficult to pick one man from the quality selection of players that make up the Bayern squad, but for sheer weight of goals Robert Lewandowski represents the biggest threat. The Polish frontman has scored a phenomenal 119 goals in all competitions over the past four seasons and already has 22 to his name this term. With the service he gets at the Allianz he should will be looking for around 40 this campaign. Now recognised as among the leading strikers in world football, Lewandowski will be striving to win his first Champions League trophy. And with the team Bayern have got, he may never get a better chance.