We’re reaching the business end of the 2019/20 Champions League, with this season’s quarter-finalists now confirmed.
Excitingly, only two of the remaining eight sides have won the competition previously, paving the way for a potential first-time champion being crowned in Lisbon on 23 August. Will we get a brand new name on the trophy for just the second time in 23 years?
No. Of course not.
Football is boring and pointless and futile, and the German team that have already been crowned champions of Europe on five occasions will stave off competition from plucky underdogs PSG, Manchester City and RB Leipzig because they are quite simply much better at football.
Bayern Munich look absolutely unstoppable. They have been head and shoulders above the rest both domestically and in Europe this season, winning the Bundesliga at a canter and topping their Champions League group with maximum points.
Die Roten head into the last eight on a sensational run of form. They are undefeated in 2020, boasting a 27-game unbeaten streak.
This isn’t an Arsenal’s Invincibles-esque unbeaten run either, with a scrappy draw here or there. Out of their last 27, Bayern have won 26, scored 86 and kept 12 clean sheets. When does a purple patch stop being considered a purple patch and is just regarded as a permanent state of sheer quality?
In the Champions League, Bayern have been impeccable. Their record in club football’s most prestigious cup competition this season reads: played eight, won eight, scored 31.
The only advantage some of Bayern’s European rivals – bar PSG, Lyon and Leipzig – may hold over the German champions is their match sharpness. The Bundesliga season concluded back in June, leaving Hans-Dieter Flick’s side over a month without competitive action. La Liga and the Premier League were still going well into late July, while Serie A wasn’t wrapped up until early August.
However, the notion that there would be cobwebs and rustiness was soon dismissed as Bayern swept aside Chelsea in the second leg of their last 16 tie, very much back to their ruthless best with an emphatic 4-1 victory. This was quite a statement to the rest of Europe, as up to that point Chelsea had only conceded 75 goals during the 2019/20 season.
Bayern just look utterly unbeatable. At the start of the season they had appeared shaky at the back, shipping five against both Nurnberg and Eintracht Frankfurt in the space of a month. But since the appointment of Flick they have sured up defensively, particularly since lockdown.
The central defensive partnership of Jerome Boateng and David Alaba is really starting to flourish, while at left-back Alphonso Davies has proved a revelation, with his desire, creativity and pace wreaking havoc down the flank.
And we haven’t even mentioned their forward line.
Once renowned for his goalscoring, Thomas Muller has continued establish himself as a prime creative force, breaking the Bundesliga assists record during the 2019/20 season after laying on 21 goals for his teammates.
This is probably aided by having the lethal Robert Lewandowski roaming around up top.
Bayern play Barcelona in the quarter-finals, and for one of the only times in his life, Lionel Messi will step onto the field with someone who has a more ridiculous goal scoring record than him this season. Lewandowski is the continent’s leading goal scorer, finding the net 53 times in 44 appearances. His movement and intelligence are near untouchable.
The German champions arguably have the trickiest potential route to the final. Should they overcome Barcelona, then Manchester City will be favoured to get the better of Lyon and meet them in the semis.
They’re not quite Chelsea, but neither side have been famed for their defensive solidity this season. Should Bayern hit their stride, they should be far too much for both Barcelona and City..
A 30-game unbeaten run and a Champions League crown to round off the season? What more have we come to expect from the ruthlessly efficient Bayern?