Bayern recharge batteries after domestic double and aim for treble

By John Bagratuni, dpa

Bayern Munich have clinched a 13th domestic double but are not finished yet. They are setting their sights on a title treble when the Champions League resumes in August – for which they are recharging their batteries with a short holiday.

Bayern Munich players started a short holiday on Sunday before restarting the season one more time with the ambition of winning the Champions League next month.

A 4-2 win over Bayer Leverkusen behind closed doors in Berlin the previous night gave Bayern a 20th German Cup title, a 13th domestic double and a 50th national title overall.

Hansi Flick’s team were as ruthless as in their run to an eighth straight Bundesliga title the previous week and are unbeaten in 26 matches in all competitions, dropping only two points, in a 0-0 draw against RB Leipzig in February, in the process.

And just like they returned all guns blazing from the coronavirus- related two-month break in May, they intend to do the same when they aim to complete the last-16 job in Europe sgainst Chelsea, leading the tie 3-0, and then looking for more at the eight-team mini-tournament finals in Lisbon until August 23.

Bayern achieved the coveted treble in 2013 and chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge vowed: “There is still that third cup. We have big aims after winning the double.”

“We are not tired of titles,” defender David Alaba insisted earlier in the week, midfielder Leon Goretzka said “I see no limit” and captain Manuel Neuer vowed that “we will prepare very well and then do our best to get the treble.”

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung said Sunday that “Bayern’s demonstration, especially in the first half of the cup final, was suitable to spread fear and terror among the remaining participants” in the Champions League.

But Bayern also appeared vulnerable after the break when Leverkusen pressed in a comeback attempt but wasted too many chances.

“Are Bayern really the big favourites as foreseen by many experts? Let’s wait and see,” Kicker sports magazine said Sunday.

Kicker said that the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona had more quality than Leverkusen and could trouble Bayern if you fought them with “speed, aggression and courage.”

But despite the hiccups Bayern overall coasted to victory thanks to early goals from Alaba’s curling free-kick and Serge Gnabry, before Robert Lewandowski’s second-half brace brought his season tally to 51 goals from 44 games in all competitions.

Flick, in his first season after replacing Niko Kovac at the helm in November, had nothing but praise for his players, saying “what this team is achieving is extraordinary.

“The way the team played in the last few weeks was sensational, the attitude is just fantastic. It’s nice to see the players believe in their own strength,” he said.

“The players can wind down for a few days now, and then we’ll prepare for the Champions League.”

But forward Thomas Mueller also mentioned the very different circumstances of the past weeks without fans amid the pandemic, the final moved from its original date May 23 and held on a day where under normal circumstances teams would have long been on holiday and German rockers Rammstein played at the Olympic Stadium.

“It’s really a bit of a sad moment, the league is our bread and butter, of course we wanted to get that over the line, but when the fans are missing in such a thing as a cup final … It just doesn’t feel the same,” Mueller said.

Leverkusen meanwhile also only have a short break before they return for Europa League action which is to completed also in August right in their area, with the final set for August 21 in Cologne.

“We still intend to do big things in the Europa League,” sports director Simon Rolfes insisted, with the team 3-1 up against Rangers in their last 16 tie.

Individual mistakes and some inexperience reduced Leverkusen to runner-up status a ninth time in all competitions since their last title, in the 1993 German Cup.

“We lacked courage, confidence and experience,” captain Lars Bender said. “Perhaps you could see that it was the first final for one or two of us. We had our chances but unfortunately didn’t take them.”

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