Pep Guardiola has taken the first step towards winning the treble with Bayern Munich after he collected his fifth title with the Bavarians on Sunday and his 19th as a coach.
Bayern are German league champions for the 25th time and, with four games left, captured a third-straight Bundesliga title after Moenchengladbach’s win over Wolfsburg on Sunday meant they cannot be caught.
Their 1-0 win at home to Hertha on Saturday was their 53rd win in 64 Bundesliga games with Guardiola as head coach since the 44-year-old took charge in July 2013.
“It is a huge title, the most important and the most honest,” Bayern’s director of sport Matthias Sammer told Sky.
“It was never a foregone conclusion we’d do it. The coach, his staff and the players have done amazingly well.”
Bayern have conceded just 13 league goals so far — the record is 14 — and only their nearest rivals, Wolfsburg and Borussia Moenchengladbach, have beaten them in this season’s league campaign.
Moreover, Borussia Dortmund, their main rivals in Germany over the last four seasons, were dispatched with a 2-1 win in Munich last November and a 1-0 win away earlier this month.
Guardiola has had to contend with a lengthy injury list in recent weeks with stars David Alaba, Franck Ribery, Arjen Robben and Holger Badstuber all ruled out.
Having won the Bundesliga, domestic cup, the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup during his first year in charge, the Champions League and German Cup are Guardiola’s next targets.
The Spaniard knows Bundesliga or cup titles keep Bayern fans happy, but only the Champions Leaguequenches their relentless thirst for silverware.
“I know which club I am at, it isn’t enough to win the Bundesliga and the cup,” he has said.
“Only a treble is enough for a club like Real Madrid, Barcelona or Bayern.”
With one more season left on his contract, Guardiola will not be short of offers if he chooses to leave Bayern in June 2016 amidst reports he is set to join Manchester City then.
The ‘Philosopher’, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic dubbed Guardiola while at Barcelona, kept Bayern at the pinnacle of European football this season.
Under Guardiola, Bayern typically enjoy 75 percent possession and the Spaniard is never afraid to switch formation or use players out of position.
Bayern’s dreams of repeating their 2013 treble-winning season under his precesessor Jupp Heynckes face a stern test on Tuesday at home to Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup semi-finals.
– Barcelona return –
Guardiola’s side then face the acid test at Barcelona in their Champions League semi-final on May 6 when he returns to the Camp Nou where he won 14 titles in four years.
Guardiola won the Champions League in his first season as Barcelona coach in 2008/09 when he was aged just 38.
It was part of a record haul of six titles in 2009 which included the Spanish league, Spanish Cup, Spanish Super Cup, European Super Cup and Club World Cup.
Last season’s Bundesliga title was won with a record seven games to spare and Munich beat rivals Borussia Dortmund 2-0 after extra-time in the German Cup final.
But the Champions League was Guardiola’s stumbling block as Bayern lost their semi-final first leg 1-0 at Real Madrid before being hammered 4-0 in Munich.
This year’s Champions League final will be held at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium on June 6.
Guardiola’s failure in last season’s semi-finals will be redeemed if they lift a sixth European title on German soil a week after potentially winning the German Cup for the 18th time in Berlin.
It promises to be a make-or-break May for Bayern and Guardiola. – Agence France-Presse