The German invariant: Bayern Munich prances towards a ninth consecutive national championship title. His victory in Leipzig (1-0) on April 3 confirms this, the Bavarian club now having seven points ahead of his runner-up seven days before the end of the Bundesliga. Case almost folded, and with the manner: 79 goals since the start of the season, a record.
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Are Bayern driving on the same marked path at continental level? Let’s say that the comparison with the PSG, which moves this Wednesday, April 7 to Munich in the quarter-finals of the Champions League, strongly pleads in its favor. Sad losers in a similar duel with their first Lille pursuers, the Parisians have just let slip the head of Ligue 1 and perhaps the national title. Bad sign at the time of the revenge of the 2020 Champions League final, which the Bavarians had offered themselves without trembling (1-0), as the ineluctable completion of their European campaign.
As good managers as they are fine players
Because there is indeed a steamroller effect in the German formation. Bayern Munich is this well-oiled machine, which refines its spare parts without ever reviewing the design of the engine, as its performance remains satisfactory. Quite the opposite of the backfire Parisian car capable of lightning accelerations or sluggish revolutions, it is according to, and without warning.
The automobile metaphor is not free. Bayern is solid. German quality. Chromes can shine occasionally, but that’s not the point. The formula is set when those who were the masters of Europe on the lawn, champions in 1974, 1975 and 1976 – against the Greens of Saint-Étienne – gradually take control of the club. Franz Beckenbauer, Uli Hoeness, then Karl-Heinz Rummenigge will prove to be as good managers as they are fine players.
Uli Hoeness in particular. He is the soul of this Bayern. Manager from the end of his career in 1979, long in the shadow of President Franz Beckenbauer, then in his place from 2009, it is indeed this former striker who puts Bayern on the rails of modernity, who founded its economic base on television rights and derivative products, which refuses to participate too much in the madness of transfers. “For salaries, for certain transfers, one of the most important things is to know how to say no, sometimes”, he professes in 2013.
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The aura of the leader is immense, even earned him a re-election in 2016 at the head of the club, after several months of a stay in prison for tax evasion in his personal affairs, and many tributes for his retirement at the end of 2019 (he remains a member of the supervisory board). Karl-Heinz Rummenigge should know the same avalanche of thanks for his departure next year after thirty years in the house organization, including ten at the head of the board of directors, kingpin of sporting success.
A family matter
His replacement will be Oliver Kahn, former goalkeeper of the team from 1994 to 2018. This is one of the flagship values of Bayern, a club which endeavors to retrain its executive players. From Klaus Augenthaler, libero of the 1980s and Bayern coach from 1992 to 1997 to Miroslav Klose, serial scorer of the late 2000s and now assistant coach, through the former Bosnian international Hasan Salihamidzic, who made nine seasons in Bavaria (1998-2007) and has since held the position of sports director. Loyalty is not an empty word, at all levels. In June 2020, the club celebrated the retirement of its doctor Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, in post since … 1977.
It is therefore often a question of the Bayern “family”. With players who are committed for the long term. “Why shouldn’t I stay forever?” This club is my home ”, in 2012 released the defender Philippe Lahm who spent his entire career in Munich. Foreign recruits also join. Today like yesterday. Eight years of presence for the Polish striker Robert Lewandowski, package due to injury against PSG. It was ten years for the Dutch Arjen Robben at the Bayern wing (2009-2019). And what about Franck Ribéry, twelve years at the club and his heart still in Bavaria?
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Everyone obviously knows the club’s motto: “Mia San Mia” (“We are we”, in Bavarian). A pride expressed in 2010, for the 110 years of the club, in 16 golden rules incorporating shared values. “It’s a culture that learns to stay humble, even when you are successful. But who also says: we can win everything ”, sums up future boss Oliver Kahn. Last year, it was the case: six national and international trophies, the total raid. And this year, Europe again at their feet?
Good accounts, too
Bayern Munich is the third European club in terms of revenue generated, according to the annual study by the specialist firm Deloitte: in 2019-2020, 634 million euros, against 715 million for Barcelona, and 714 million for Real Madrid. But unlike the Spanish giants, Bayern has a positive balance sheet, with six million euros in profit, even in a year yet turned upside down by the pandemic. And this is nothing new. The club has shown no deficit for … twenty-eight years.
The principle of “zero debt” is written in stone. The club owns its stadium. It is constantly developing its international merchandising. And counts on loyal sponsors and a stable shareholder base, with its 293,000 “members” who hold 75%, the remaining 25% being divided equally between Adidas (since 2001), Audi (since 2011) and Allianz (since 2014).