Bayern wrapped up the German Cup and Bundesliga double at the start of the month to add to their 2003, 2005 and 2006 success, but their title rivals are concerned the bar has been set too high. And without question, no other Bundesliga side can match the financial resources of Bayern.
The German giants splashed out €69 million ($100 million) last summer to bring the likes of Italy’s Luca Toni, French star Franck Ribery and German striker Miroslav Klose to Munich.
They effectively bought the German league title and secured their place in next season’s Champions League, but their main rivals are wondering if they can match the Bavarian football barons.
“There’s a great danger of Bayern winning the title three or four times in the next five years,” said Bayer Leverkusen’s director of sport Rudi Völler. His side are still chasing a UEFA Cup place with the season finishing this weekend and he admits Bayern are “unrivalled” in the German league in terms of finances.
Wolfsburg boss and former Bayern handler Felix Magath believes the newly-crowned champions are “on a par with the biggest clubs of them all, the Real Madrids, AC Milans and Arsenals.”
Only 2007 champions VfB Stuttgart and Energie Cottbus managed to beat Bayern in the league this season. And Stuttgart coach Armin Veh says the gap between Bayern and the league’s
“also-rans” is growing too wide.
“A couple of clubs could have got Bayern this season. I think it’ll be more difficult in the years to come, because their team will become even more settled,” said Veh.
Bayern have reportedly offered AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso a €6 million a year salary to boost their Champions League campaign next season while fellow World Cup winner Toni is already paid a €10 million annual salary.
“The Champions League is more important than anything else next season,” admits Bayern manager Uli Hoeneß.
New coach Jürgen Klinsmann knows he has to make an impact in Europe next season when he starts on July 1.
Bayern led the Bundesliga from the opening weekend to the last, but some of their rivals have already laid down the gauntlet for next season.
“They’ve been clearly the best this season,” said Schalke 04 manager Andreas Müller. “But that doesn’t mean Bayern will win the championship every year from now on. Clubs like Werder, Stuttgart and us are always in with a chance of matching them over the course of a full season.”
And Hamburg Director of Sport Dietmar Beiersdorfer used the form of the full Germany side to rubbish any claims of Bayern domination.
“Franz Beckenbauer predicted Germany would be invincible after winning the 1990 World Cup (he coached them to the title that year), but that wasn’t the case then, and it won’t be the case with Bayern now.”